Amaro Obsession

MICAELA PALLINI – PALLINI S.P.A.

Hello Mrs. Pallini, first of all, we would like to thank you for your invitation to visit the company and for your willingness.

Pallini S.p.A is one of the oldest and most representative Roman companies, as well as the only distillery on the Roman territory. Could you give us some historical mention and some curiosity related to your production?

Our company was founded in Antrodoco, a small town on the border between Lazio and Abruzzo, with anise products, in fact, some sources say that the Sambuca was born in the province of Rieti from an ancient monks recipe. We had the whole range of anise products: Mistrà (without sugar), Anice Secco, Anisetta, Anice Triplo (an Anice Secco with a higher alcohol content and triple anise content) and Sambuca. A curiosity: the essential oil of the anise is susceptible to water and not easily soluble, in fact, when the anise products are diluted with water they become opaque: this effect is due precisely to the separation of the essential anise oil. This essential oil is also susceptible to temperature and once, when it was really cold, the customers called our Company sending back the Mistà bottles because they contained white crystals: they were nothing more than the crystallized anise essential oils that would come back normal with higher temperature. We moved to Rome in 1922 near Pantheon, there we created the Sambuca Romana brand a few years later. My father, Virgilio Pallini, who at the time lived in the United States and worked for RAI, decided to leave his career as a journalist and dedicate himself to the growth of Sambuca Romana on foreign markets, with particular attention to the United States. Our Sambuca Romana was the first Sambuca to arrive in the U.S. My father always tells us that at the time in the United States as Italian liqueurs there were us, Disaronno, Frangelico and Galliano.

You, Mrs. Pallini, are one of the most successful women in the global industry, how was to deal with a predominantly male world?

I am the first woman in the family whose has been given the opportunity to make a career in the Family Company up to the role of management. My first official experiences at the top management level have been a little complicated confronted with a predominantly male world unaccustomed to the presence of a woman at the heads of a Company. Over time things have changed a lot, but the fact remains that in my opinion the women still have not found their leadership model and are unfortunately still convinced that the solution is to imitate the male attitude instead of referring to their characteristics. To be a real opposition to the male leadership, or otherwise a different offer, we should necessarily find our model, which combined with the male leadership prerogatives certainly bring added value. It's a model that needs to be rethought, it's a big challenge!

Pallini S.p.A. is part of the group The Spirit of Italy, what was the impetus for founding this group?

In 2010 we created in Federvini the group The Spirit Of Italy, which now includes nine companies. Our goal was, and remains, to disseminate the importance of the Italian spirits in the mixology. When talking about the Italian excellences, the association is direct with the world of fashion, design, wine and food, but never with the world of spirits in which Italy has a strong importance from the historical point of view and in the cocktails recipes: let's say that without us a Negroni Cocktail would be a glass of Gin!

Ferro China Baliva is a unique product, with more than 100 years of history, Mrs. Pallini, could you tell us the story between Pallini S.p.A. and Ferro China Baliva?

The experience with the group The Spirit of Italy has made us decide as a Company to approach the bartenders and mixology world proposing and revaluing some of our oldest products including Ferro China Baliva. Ferro China Baliva has a really long history: we found advertising of this Tonico in Il Messaggero of 1908. Ernesto Baliva was a pharmacist doctor who worked in Roman hospitals. His Tonico-Ricostituente, formulated in 1894, was very successful. Ferro China Baliva was sold as a pharmaceutical product, so much so that over the years we have traced the Roman pharmacy in which Dr. Baliva created the Ferro China, unfortunately, their archive had been completely flooded and they had no longer the original recipe. Ferro China Baliva was sold as a Tonico-Ricostituente, in fact, on the labels of historical bottles, among other things, it was written:

Sovereign in stomach atonic, in chlorosis anaemias, in neurasthenia in general. Great strength regenerator after exhaustive infectious diseases like typhus and flu, after the puerperium and during lactation. Pleasant taste. It is taken with pleasure by children and ladies. Use for adults: one small glass an hour before each meal, for children: a teaspoon before each meal.

This Tonico during the Prohibition Era in the United States was sold in pharmacies. The doctor Ernesto Baliva formulated the recipe and entrusted the production of his Tonico to a Roman businessman: Benedetto Pompili. In the '60s Baliva and Pompili families had some disagreements and Dr. Baliva, needed of someone who produced Ferro China, contacted my grandfather's brothers, then from the' 60s Pallini S.p.A. produces Ferro China Baliva. Ferro China Baliva was the first product to make the leap from the pharmacy to the mass market. For the first time, they sensed that the cheapest way to promote their product was an image accompanied by a few words: the slogan! Pallini S.p.A. bought the brand from the heirs of Baliva. The current recipe of Ferro China is the same one that Dr. Baliva formulated in 1894 but differs in quantity of ferric ammonium citrate, which is lower than in the past. We kept the artisanal method of production: the botanicals are cold infused for about ten days in 200 liters of alcohol and then they are pulled away with a wire mesh and pressed to extract all the liquid. The infusion is then stored in smaller glass containers. After stabilization, lasting about one month, the infusion is diluted with water and sugar syrup to which ferric ammonium citrate is added. Dipping a golden spiral into the infusion of herbs instead, produced Ferro China Baliva Irradiato, an ancient version of the Tonico. By connecting the golden spiral to the electricity it was thought that the ions released by the spiral could increase the restorative properties of Ferro China.

In your large product portfolio, there is also Amaro Virgilio, how that came to be and how did it evolve over time?

Amaro Virgilio has always been part of our product portfolio and was initially called Amaro San Gabriele. For many years Amari were not a popular product, there was not much demand and the sale was almost exclusively on the large retail dominated by major brands and very chip products. The intention of giving light and strength to our Family Amaro was born from here. Being a Chemistry graduate I often intervene personally in the development of the final formulas of our products, such as for Limoncello. As for the reformulation of the traditional recipe of Amaro San Gabriele, I intervened by changing the taste, decreasing the note of artichoke, pointing to the bitter nuances of rhubarb and lowering the percentage of sugar. Our Amaro remained on stand-by for a long time, until we decided to take care of the packaging by entrusting its restyling to the Roman Studio Angelini, launching the current Amaro Virgilio, named in honor of Virgilio Pallini: my father.

Pallini S.p.A. also proposes a Fernet and a Bitter in its portfolio of Amaro products, when these two products are born?

Like Amaro Virgilio even the Fernet is present in our product portfolio forever, the recipe, studied by the founder of Pallini Company, dates back to 1880. It is an infusion of medicinal herbs with a strong note of licorice, saffron and Aloe Vera Ferox. The restyling of the traditional packaging of our Fernet Pallini was commissioned to the Studio Angelini. Talking about Bitter Pallini, we are currently working on developing the product to improve our aperitifs proposal.

Mrs. Pallini, can you mention your plans for the nearest future? What are the goals of Pallini S.p.A.?

One of our goals is to continue working with foreign companies and expand the range of products we import. We will launch a book on Mistrà: a beautiful historical research by Fulvio Piccinino. We would like to bring the world of bartenders closer to this amazing product that is very versatile even in mixology. Having a long history behind our Company, one of the future projects will be to realize a museum that represents all these years of experience and hard work.

Matteo Zed

Martina Proietti

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