Gin and Luxardo (aka Marasca) cherries go together wonderfully (they’re the core of one of my favorite cocktails), so it makes perfect sense that Luxardo would invent a new category, infusing gin with its own Marasca sour cherry juice — kind of an Italian spin on sloe gin.
Here’s some additional backstory from the company:
The base of Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin is made using the recipe for Luxardo’s London Dry Gin (a product not currently available in the U.S.), which can be traced back to the Ginepro di Dalmazia that the family produced in the 1900s. The recipe contains a careful selection of nine botanicals, including juniper, coriander, iris, angelica, sedge, licorice, cinnamon, cardamom, and bitter orange. Once distilled in traditional copper pot stills, the gin is infused with Luxardo’s Marasca cherry juice, made from cherries cultivated exclusively by the Luxardo family in the orchards of the Euganean Hills in the Veneto region of Italy. The result is a bright, rich, and sour taste that retains the strong juniper and spice of the original distillate. Each bottle is outfitted with an artisanal label designed to reflect 19th century Italy, further celebrating the family’s history.
“Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin incorporates our proprietary Marasca cherries into our historic gin distillate and is one of the only sour cherry gins widely available in the world,” says Matteo Luxardo, export director and sixth generation of the Luxardo family. “The recipe marries two of our oldest recipes to create a flavored gin, rather than a traditional sloe gin, meant to be used as the main spirit in a cocktail or enjoyed in unusual gin and tonic serves.”
It’s pretty weird stuff.
On the nose, the cherry notes are overwhelming, though notes of blueberry, some mint, and a modest juniper hit all find a way through. The palate is initially quite fruity-forward, again more cherry than gin, showing a chocolate note on first blush. As the gin develops, some earthy, almost musky, notes begin to emerge. The finish is where things start to go a little awry. While quite sour as expected, it’s also surprisingly bitter and a bit saccharine-sweet, the whole affair coming together into something with a serious cough syrup character, an unfortunate way to conclude an otherwise curious little spirit.
Fit for use almost exclusively as a mixer, and in small quantities.
My comments aside, here’s Luxardo’s recommended libation:
1.5 oz Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin
0.45 oz Sweet Vermouth (yes, that is either a typo or very specific)
1 bar spoon Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
2 dashes of Bitters
Stir over ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a Luxardo Maraschino Cherry and orange twist.