Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Limoncello, Moment of Truth
Today is was time to filter and bottle my second attempt at making homemade limoncello. So it was off the local this-and-that store for decorative bottles and cheesecloth.
To recap, in the first batch of this favorite Italian liqueur of mine, I used Luksusowa, a Polish brand of vodka made with potatoes, as my base, and Meyer lemons as the closet equivalent to the special sort of Sorrento and Amalfi fruit used in Italian limoncello. That result was OK, but a bit rangy and fullsome for my tastes. I attributed this is part to the influence of the potatoes, and vowed to used a grain-based vodka the next time around. This I did, employing White Nights, a Belgian vodka which is just being introduced to the American market and is priced quite reasonably. I also made a change in the fruit component. I used Meyers again, but a friend suggested adding the zest of a couple blood oranges. The point is to approximate even close the flavor of those glorious Italian lemons.
I still have some of the old limoncello (let's call it the 2007 vintage) on hand, so I decided to do a side-by-side taste test to see if I fared better this time. First the old stuff: as I remembered, the 2007 was viscous, a bit meaty, almost doughy, with strong notes of marzipan along with the lemon and honey you expect. It has mellowed with age, but I still can't get past the idea that its took thick and syrupy. It lacks that silky smoothness I like in the best limoncello, and the citrusy zing.
The 2008 vintage was an improvement, no doubt. Not a great leap, but a step forward. The color is deeper, more lovely. First off, it was not as thick on the tongue. The drink was lighter, with a nice hint of an edge. The orange hints came through, and the creamy feeling was less pronounced. I also sense that this potion will be changing with the weeks.
What I'm dealing with, I now realize, is essentially rustic liqueur. It is homemade, after all. It's not going to have that sleekness I find in the commercial product. I may be asking too much of the stuff. Still, I'm going to keep trying. Perhaps I should find some Everclear and give that a go. Maybe the basic recipe I'm using is a bit off. Reserch goes on...