A grown-ups red vermouth, displaying age, charm, and balance in a lean yet understated and complex way.
Notes: Boasting 100% natural ingredients ( a rare thing these days sadly) and a low ABV ( which is I understand popular in some circles these days). The Starlino Hotel line is a newcomer to the United States but the distillery has been in business since 1906. The Vergano family distillery, Torino Distillati is in Piedmonte, in North-Eastern Italy. The Master Distiller and Wine Makers Beppe Ronco and Denis Muni are the Alchemists of these products.
The Vermouth is a charming blend of Marsala and Trebianno wines infused for 30 days then distilled with several varieties of wormwood, and other botanicals; china, raisins, bitter orange, ginger, vanilla, cloves amongst others, to form a subtle but lovely mix. It is carefully infused, blended then left to marry and blend in bourbon barrels for 6 months.
Appearance: Clear, Marsala and Trebianno wine influence is definitely noted, tawny, oxidized wine color slightly more reddish than a whiskey color to it. No sediment or separation of wine or oils. Very oily coat on swirling leaving a few legs behind.
First Impression: Tickles the nose with the heavy, complex, and scented vapors of a fortified and aromatic wine, with a whisper of bitter wormwood lacing its way past the sweeter and heavier scents. Pleasantly astringent herbal character to give balance and structure.
Taste: A leaner, more structured, red vermouth.A good bit less sweet than many, more structure with oxidized and herbal notes. with a wonderful backbone of bitterness and herbaceous punch to provide a structure to the sweetness
Drinks: Great on its own chilled, and/or on the rocks,( and as a side note you should refrigerate after opening anyway), it makes for a lovely low alcohol spritzer if you use 1 part Starlino to sparkling water or seltzer, or same ratios with sparkling wine as an aperitif. Also good for a Negroni, and of course for a Manhattan, it can really sing, giving a touch more bones to a bourbon without drowning it and making a rye shine with a bit of polish rather than burying it under sugar. Also highly recommend as working well with many ingredients as it has the structure and subtlety to mix with other ingredients and brings a lot of elements of its own in its unique mix of wines, herbs and spices.
I think this Vermouth is an excellent choice if you are looking for a more spare, aesthetic vermouth than many of those fruit and spice bombs out there and you want a lean vermouth to mix, not overpower a good whiskey
Its well-structured balance of flavors lends itself well to a host of potential new cocktail creations. Also as a new product, you will not be disappointed to find your ‘new’ cocktail was invented in 1928 somewhere, it will be yours to name and a possible claim to fame.
Bottle: They went all out on these bottles. The style of design for these is known in Italy as Stile Liberty, think similar to French Belle Epoch in some ways. Beautiful dark green glass , heavy apothecary style. Embossed with Torino, Italy, fluid levels, and with a shortish neck with a good lip, so easy to grip. The bottle ergonomics are both attractive and practical. The labels are full of meanings and references in its manty elements including elevator and room references, desk bell, barrels, and all manner of embellishments. The back label is meant to resemble a ‘Do Not Disturb’ door hanger. The bottle topper is a wood and ceramic knob very reminiscent of an antique doorknob and embellished with a small star and ‘Starlino 1906″ on the top
Other: They make an outstanding Aperitivo and maraschino cherries also.
Final Thoughts: A very nice somewhat drier red vermouth.Not as pricey as Carpano Antica but more than say Noilly Prat.
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