Get in the Festive Spirit with Solerno

Peter Morrell samples this unique and highly versatile liqueur made from Sicilian Blood Oranges

Winter citrus is synonymous with Christmas; its bittersweet taste and invigorating aroma rings a welcoming contrast to the dark winter nights. Add a zesty twist and a citrus infusion into this year’s holiday season with the world’s first blood orange liqueur, Solerno.

Hand-picked from the sun-drenched slopes of Sicily’s Mount Etna, Solerno is made from blood oranges harvested at the height of the season in the Mediterranean winter when the fruits are at their most intense.

I recently tried Solerno but before tasting I admired the bottle which has been inspired by Venetian Murano glass. The punt at the bottom of the bottle is in the shape of half a peeled blood orange and the graduated red tint up the bottle is reminiscent of the sun rising over Mount Etna. My first tasting of Solerno was neat, the bouquet showcased the intense, concentrated essence of orange and this continued onto the palate and was joined by sweet spicy notes, the finish was long and very persistent. The next tasting was over ice, this was less intense but highly refreshing and would make a lovely pre-dinner drink.

I started to think about cocktails and the first thing that came to mind was a twist on the classic negroni. I mixed one part each of Solerno for the sweetness, Campari for the bitter element and Noilly Prat vermouth for its dryness. Poured over ice in a glass and stirred it was delicious.

My next idea was a B52, I started with a something bigger than a shot glass, this was going to be sipped and savoured not downed in one. The first layer was a measure of Padron XO coffee liqueur, having run out of Baileys my inspiration for the next layer was a measure of Warninks Advocaat and it was all topped off with Solerno. This was so good I renamed it, the Boeing Dreamliner.

Solerno is a versatile and sophisticated festive drink, whether as a pre-dinner toast or aperitif. Why not ring in the New Year with a Solerno Sparkling, to make this put 15ml of Solerno, 10ml of sugar syrup and two dashes peach bitters into a flute glass then top with Champagne or Prosecco and garnish with a slice of blood orange.

However you drink it, raise a toast to the original and naturally intense flavours of blood oranges this festive season with Solerno.

Available from The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt.