One can’t get far in the drinking world without encountering the iconic Disaronno bottle. Disaronno brands its almond-flavored liqueur as not just the best amaretto around but “the world’s favorite Italian liqueur,” and the product has become an endemic part of the drinking world. Why, the first drink I had when I turned 21 was an amaretto sour. (It was the special of the day.)
In 2001 the brand changed names from the former “Amaretto di Saronno” to just “Disaronno.” Whether you consider this an Adele move or a Ke$ha move depends on your point of view, I suppose, but either way you’ll note that “amaretto” is mentioned only on the back of the bottle, nowhere on the front.
Disaronno traces its roots to 1525, though its commercial availability began around 1900. There’s no telling how many revisions the recipe has undergone in nearly 5 centuries (said recipe remains a secret, though as noted in the comments below, it’s widely held that apricot kernels are key to the recipe, not almonds), though it has no qualms about changing bottle designs and partnering with design companies to offer special edition versions from time to time. At present, you’ll find the stylish Trussardi Limited Edition bottle on the market, which comes complete with a Trussardi luggage tag.
As for the liqueur itself, it’s pretty unmistakable yet relatively harmless. The nose is heavy with almond extract — a job for which Disaronno is basically interchangeable — and a light dose of vanilla. The palate is quite sweet, though less than your memory might suggest, loaded up with almond but also notes of brown butter and some spices — cinnamon and nutmeg. The finish finds sweetness lingering, and here things start to get a little saccharine and cloying on the palate, which is mildly unfortunate.
It’s not the most complex liqueur in the world, but it is readily approachable and, again iconic. Of course, a bottle of Disaronno is always handy to have on hand, should a guest ask for a Screaming Orgasm or, why not, an amaretto sour. Also good if you have an Italian grandmother coming around.
B+ / $22 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]