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Review: Amaro Isolabella 18 (1950s)

Amaro Isolabella 18

A northern Italian amaro from Lombardy, Isolabella 18 utilizes cold infusion and (suprise-surpise) a top secret blend of 18 ingredients. Some quick differences noticeable on the labels. The 1950s version leaned into Isolabella 18 as a tonic - "...un sorso di salute" or a sip of health plays up the restorative angle. The proof has gone down by 2% over time. The 50s version also indicates Milan on the label. The current doesn't designate a production location.

Fun aside: The 1964 TV commercial spot, Qualche cosa di piu (Something More), featuring Alberto Lupo, is an interesting watch. These old amaro commercials are always a trip - often over the top with romantic bents.


Amaro Isolabella 18 - 1950s - 32%

Notes: Deep nose - butterscotch, old books, gingerbread, snickerdoodles, ginseng, licorice, dried cranberry and sumac. Palate plays lots of dark notes with spice and ethanol providing a well defined structure. Dark chocolate, licorice, roots, bark, coffee. Long with a little heat and soft bitterness.,

Score: 9 (Stash Two) Medium but punchy style that delivers plenty of layered complexity. Some of the sugar has definitely dropped out. It read a touch spirit-y for some I shared it with, but I absolutely loved the structure.


Amaro Isolabella 18 - 30%

Notes: Marshmallow. Vanilla. Cola. Gentian. Orange peel. Cardamom. More of the same on the palate with gentian, citrus, and cinnamon taking control mid-palate into the finish, creating a lot of backend action.

Score: 7 (Highly Recommend) Proof and base spirit are well supported by the flavor profile and botanical integration. I'm a big fan of this as a sipper or cocktailing ingredient. Instruct traveling friends to tuck a bottle or two in their suitcases. Price point is approachable as well.


Rating System

10 - Reevaluate The Budget

9 - Stash Two (If Able)

8 - Stash One (At The Right Price)

7 - Highly Recommend It To Strangers

6 - Solid - Above Average

5 - Acceptable For The Situation

4 - Not Vocally Complaining

3 - Anything Else To Drink?

2 - Nothing Nice To Say

1 - Drain Pour

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