Tag Archives: Italy

Grappa Massagli, Lucca, 40%

While on holiday in Lucca I immersed myself into the world of Grappa.

One of the local Vino E Liquori shops did a Grappa with an image of Lucca’s iconic Piazza Anfiteatro on the label.

Safely ensconced in my accommodation a glass was poured.

Clear white spirit indicates a blanco grappa. This usually denotes unaged liquid – although it can be rested in steel vessels to smooth out any rough notes.

There’s a youthful freshness on the nose – but not overpowering.

A smooth & oily palate didn’t give much away.

Smidgen of dark fruitiness on the finish combined with a touch of prickly heat.

More of a novelty souvenir offering rather than a sipper.


Massagli shop website here.

Website for Piazza Anfiteatro here.


Nardini Grappa Riserva, 50%

This is my 1st Grappa since returning from Lucca.

Grappa is fierce hard to get hold of in Ireland outside of specialist shops or select restaurants.

Nardini – who began distilling in 1779 – appear to be the only brand readily available here.

I enjoyed their Bianca – clear, unaged – offering previously so moved up a notch with this Riserva – aged in Slavonian oak barrels – presented at 50%.

Pale gold in colour.

Rich pungent nuttiness, dried fruit & chocolate on the nose.

Lovely smooth mouthfeel belies the high ABV.

Slowly builds intensity with those nutty flavours mixed into a growing prickly dryness on a lip-smacking finish.

A rather intense – yet invigorating – experience!


Nardini website here.

Lucca blog post here.

Nardini Bianca blog post here.

Looking For Grappa In Lucca, Diciotto Lune, 41% & Grappa Del LVPO, 40%

I was looking for Grappa in Lucca – Italy’s national spirit – & found a couple of bottles in a trendy, well stocked cocktail bar by the name of Screwdriver handily situated on the main Piazza San Michelle.

The first one I tried had a very stylish bottle with Dici Otto Lune emblazoned on the front. This translates into eighteen moons – the usual time a ‘stravecchia’ grappa has to be aged in wood to earn the title.

This grappa enticed with a lovely rich agricultural, earthy kind of nose.

A silky smooth & velvety mouthfeel gave off a touch of tannic spice.

The finish had me stumped a little. It was both drying yet lovely & juicy all at the same time!

A very well cultured grappa!

The next one was a different kind of beast!

Grappa Del LVPO was presented clear & colourless.

Extremely aromatic on the nose displaying a more earthy & vegetal feeling.

Gorgeously oily on the palate – with a healthy bite from the wolf too!

A very entertaining drinking experience!

So much so I had another Grappa del LVPO when my friends caught up with me!


All images authors own.

Screwdriver facebook page here.

Diciotta Lune website here.

Montenegro srl website here.

Everybody Hertz, Richard Mainwaring.

I’m reading this book on frequencies.

The amusing title drew me in & has opened up the amazing world waves – be they sound, light or even taste! – have on our everyday lives.

It all boils down to vibrations – more specifically the frequencies they operate at – & the ‘good vibes’ they give us.

Chemical Brothers Life Is Sweet

I never thought of taste – as in smells – having a vibration, but it turns out there’s a row going on in the olfactory world about how we perceive smell.

One tribe – the Chemical Group – posit smells are unlocked by the shape of the odour molecule fitting specific receptors – as pertinent to whiskey tasting.

The other – Vibration Group – posit all molecules vibrate & it’s this the receptors pick up on.

I like the sound of the Vibration Group myself.

Often when talking about whiskey we experience ‘notes’. Turns out those ‘notes’ might have far more in common with music than we imagined!

Music can be experienced both physically & emotionally as a result of the vibrations – or frequencies – made by those performing the piece or hearing it through speakers.

Whiskey – it seems- can also be experienced in a similar fashion.

All of this only reinforces my belief that whiskey tasting is an intensely personal experience. What one person ‘gets’ from a whiskey might be an entirely different experience to anothers.

When in Italy recently I didn’t join the rest of my group listening to opera as it simply doesn’t connect with me. Similarly they didn’t join me in the delights of grappa. Yet we all enjoyed a beer listening to jazz in the outdoors!

So when you do find a piece of music – or whiskey – that moves you – you’ll know.

It’s the ‘good vibrations’ – and don’t let anyone put you off your vibes!


Scientific article on the Theory Of Smell here.

Pappagrappa Invecchiata, 40%

I did an internet search for Grappa in Lucca before travelling & one of the few things that came up was this Gelato Shop.

Handily situated near our accommodation close to Porta Elisa on the old walls made for a short excursion to enjoy some freshly made ice cream.

Housed in a bright, airy & colourful building with shaded outdoor seating we were warmly welcomed to a bewildering array of tasty gelato flavours to choose from. They do infuse grappa into the ice cream – but it’s a seasonal offering & wasn’t on the menu for our visit.

Nonetheless we all enjoyed our very flavourful selections sitting in the quiet courtyard.

Unexpectedly the server offered us a small taster of grappa to savour!

A relatively soft, mellow aroma of sweet fruitiness & hints of nuttiness greeted me.

A silky mouthfeel topped off with a gentle tannic spice rounded the experience up.

Very nice!

Turns out Pappagrappa market their own grappa in both aged & clear varieties!

A lovely little touch.

Luckily we promised to return before flying home as we were rewarded with a cioccolato e grappa gelato!


What a novel way to enjoy Italy’s own spirit!


Pappagrappa website here.

All photos authors own.

Grappa Riserva, 40%

Popping into a Lidl in Lucca, Italy was a bit of an eye opener.

Apart from being familiar with many of the brands there were also differences.

Smaller bread & cereal displays contrasted with larger cheese & meats. The central isles were still in situ but the costs of the spirits?


The old familiar Queen Margot Scotch – €5.99.

She’s €22.09 in Ireland.

I was also pleased to find at least 4 varieties of Grappa for sale at similar prices.

Too good to resist!

Grappa Riserva made my basket.

Invecchiata Oltre 18 Mesi it says on the label – which translates as aged in wood. Hence the golden hue.

Quite a soft sweet fruity nose with overtones of caramelly wood.

Very easy palate with decent depth.

Entertaining nuttiness & soft tannic spice on the rear with a welcoming warmth.

Even with Grappa Lidl can produce a very attractively priced spirit that’s easy, approachable & enjoyable to consume.

Pity it’s not available in Ireland!


Trentin Grappa shares a business address with Bertagnolli Distilleria here.

My Queen Margot blog here.

Nardini Grappa Bianca, 50%

I do love exploring other spirit categories.

They give variety, a different suite of flavours & a contrast to the whiskey I normally consume.

With whiskey – it’s all about the wood – to borrow a popular tagline.

With the trio of clear spirits represented by rum, tequila & grappa it’s more about the interplay of the raw ingredients & distillation process used to bring about a richness of taste in the unaged spirit.

Courtesy CelticWhiskeyShop

Clear spirit does not mean silent spirit – as this lovely Nardini Grappa Bianca demonstrates.

Nardini are one of the oldest & largest grappa distilleries in Italy where the leftovers from wine production – pomace – is distilled in a combination of copper stills to produce this rich & pungent spirit.

An earthy sweetness greeted me on the nose.

Smooth, oily mouthfeel with a rich, almost agricultural style of flavour going on.

Slight prickly spice on the rear.

I didn’t guess this was presented at 50%.

Yeah – Grappa grabs me!

Nice one Nardini.


Luigi Francoli, Grappa Di Muscato E Brachetto, Barrique, 41.5%

It’s great to see the independent drinks specialist Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) launch a course in Ireland courtesy of Spirits Training.

When I completed my Spirits Level 2 module a while ago I visited the UK to sit the exam.

It shows a growing appreciation of and increasing demand for the spirits sector in Ireland.

My extra curricular training in Manchester proved to be very entertaining nonetheless! Visit my blog here.

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WSET Spirits L2 c/othewhiskeynut

The Spirits Level 2 course doesn’t just cover whiskey – all distilled spirit categories including Gin, Vodka, Brandy, Mezcal & more are explored.

Many I’d little knowledge of – let alone tasted – which is an integral part of training.

I grew to understand each sector has it’s own rules & regulations, history & customs,  as well as creative interpretations & representations of those traditions across the world.

At the end of the day however – it all came down to which spirits excited my palate.

One I’d never encountered before was Grappa.

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Long tall Luigi c/othewhiskeynut

Grappa – by definition – is an Italian based spirit distilled from grapes – the leftovers that is from wine production – or pomace as it’s known – and tends to be made by small producers.

The only grappa I could easily find in Ireland was by Luigi Francoli in my local O’Brien’s store.

Presented in an attractive bottle at 41.5%,  it stated the grape varietals used – Muscato e Brachetto – as well as ‘Barrique’ aged – in contrast to the usual unaged Grappa’s.

Oh – the distillery was founded in 1875.

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Italian Grappa c/othewhiskeynut

The grape influence was evident – but not in a sweet way – which usually puts me off – more of a nutty, earthy kind of experience.

A lovely soft mouthfeel grew in depth adding fruitiness & more of that nuttiness too – before finishing with a gentle spiciness to add character.

I’d happily enjoy one or two of these after a meal – which is the custom – and possibly explore other offerings as well.

If anything the WSET Spirits course has expanded both my knowledge of the spirits world & introduced my palate to a greater repertoire of tasting experiences.

Isn’t it about time you did the course?


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