Amaro Obsession

MARCO SCHIAVO – DISTILLERIA SCHIAVO

Hi Marco! you're a member of one of the first big producing families of Italian grappa, you represent the present and the future of Distilleria Schiavo. You have a lot of creativity and genius. How do you manage to reconcile these yours big qualities with the tradition of your products?

I work for Distilleria Schiavo, my family’s company, from always! In my profession I put passion, love and even courage. Distilleria Schiavo is my life and undoubtedly my character is closely linked with this work. Creativity and dynamism are always kept alive by the desire to start new adventures in the distillery and start new projects.

Distilleria Schiavo has seen and made a lot of history. Can you tell us an anecdote related to your family's company? What is your first memory related to the Distillery?

I remember that as a child I was in the distillery with my two old aunts. They completely dedicated themselves to our company until the age of eighty-five. They taught me so much, lots of my baggage is due to their experience taught me over the years. They taught me to recognize the aromas of the different types of pomace, the difference in color between a marc just removed from the must and a marc removed from few days, thanks to them I also learned to recognize the marc that were added with water by farmers to deceive distillery on weight during delivery, practically a real distillation school! There are no professional development courses for this job able to equate the training you receive growing up in a distillery. In fact, the distilleries that have a centuries-old history behind them, such as the Schiavo Distillery, are always finding difficult to explain the trade in brief during the courses of approach to their products. Each character who works in these historic activities has, in fact, so vast experience that it becomes inexplicable. 

How did you think about the Gagliardo brand and why investing in the amaro world very much in advance of the rebirth of this category of spirits?

I state that I am a great Cocktail Americano lover! The Italian amaro brands do not satisfy me anymore (I find them too sweet, too heavy and sometimes "chemical"), so I decided to start a new project with my distillery. The idea was to produce amari that could be well linked to Italian vermouth, thus balancing the taste in cocktail recipes. I thought to go back to the amari origins: reduce the sugar content a lot and use a natural raw material (the best and most expensive on the market). In short, to do what the chefs have been doing for years in their dishes!

Tell us about Gagliardo jewels, so traditional but at the same time so incredibly new and brilliant in their organoleptic characteristics.

The great peculiarity of the products of our Gagliardo line is to use alcohol produced by the distillation of fruits: more fragrant and sweet compared to other alcohol on the market (unfortunately it is also considerably more expensive, but it is essential if you want to produce high quality amari). The botanicals used to produce our spirits are all natural, we avoid chemistry. We characterize each product with an "overdose" of a selected botanical: in Bitter Gagliardo gentian root is predominant, in Fernet Gagliardo it is glacial mint and in our Triple Sec Gagliardo it is candied mandarino tardivo di Ciaculli (Slow Food Presidium).

In addition to Gagliardo line, regarding your bitter product portfolio, Distilleria Schiavo produces an Amaro Felsina. Can you tell us more about it?

Amaro Felsina is the father of all Italian amari. It was invented in Bologna. My great-grandfather produced it during the first years of the twentieth century and was considered a pleasant aperitif thanks to the high sugar content and to the botanicals with which it was prepared: sweet orange, bitter orange, gentian, licorice and rhubarb. The current recipe of our Amaro Felsina creates a less sweet product because of the minimum amount of sugar, but does not lose the great qualities that made it the king of the aperitif. The Amaro Felsina of Distilleria Schiavo is proposed at 28% vol.

As a producer you have nothing to envy to any other distillery, but what are the Italian producers of your own industry that really esteem a lot?

Talking about the production of grappa, the companies that I value the most are Distilleria Santa Teresa of Marolo Brothers and Pilzer, for the realization of liqueurs my admiration goes to a company with a century-old experience like our of Distilleria Schiavo: Girolamo Luxardo.

Marco, Distilleria Schiavo is really doing a great job in the national and international world of beverage, you work with valid collaborators or do you prefer to work alone?

We own an artisan company that cannot afford much, but I have many friends to whom I call on for help in balancing the tastes of and to receive judgments on our products. In this way I can experiment a lot before launching a new product on the market: I try to make it taste in almost whole Europe to collect as much information as possible that will help me to have precise ideas on the taste to give to our products.

What are the countries outside Italy where Gagliardo is really strong?

The countries in which our Gagliardo line is most successful are: the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, England.

How do you live your relationship with Italian bartenders and how did you approach them?

I approached the world of bartending thanks to some of my friends. I must say that, unlike some sommeliers, which usually "show off" and have a proclivity for big brands more than the "crazy" like me, I found young motivated bartenders, talented, interested, but above all available to break the monotony of the usual labels that today have standardized the taste of consumers. I believe that the professionals in the world of mixology are like chefs: they assemble different products and know how to balance them in order to produce the perfect drink for each customer.

As already mentioned, you have a very bright mind and you are always ready to work on new ideas. Can you tell us something about your next product?

Gagliardo Extra Bitter... the amaro that breaks all the rules!

What do you think of the new amaro-mania that is so popular in the United States?

It’s about time! We was "sick and tired" of sweet and banal amari! Less sugar, better drinking, but especially less damage to our health. As our motto says: In Bitter We Trust!

Matteo Zed

Martina Proietti

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