Published on August 20th, 2013 | by Dipsology0
Spirit Spotlight: Martini Gran Lusso Vermouth
A few week’s ago, we introduced you to the wonderful world of vermouth. Here, we present our first deep dive into a new product by the historic Italian producer Martini. Look for more Spirit Spotlights on other great vermouths coming soon!
Martini Gran Lusso was unveiled at a private tasting in New Orleans during the 2013 Tales of the Cocktail to celebrate the producer’s 150th Anniversary. It is a limited edition release, with only 150,000 cases being distributed. A big, bold sweet vermouth, here are our takeaways from tasting this delicious new product:
Gran Lusso contains 4 distinct components: red wine, white wine and two distinct botanical extracts.
The base red wine is made from Barbera grapes from the famed Italian wine-making region of Piedmont. This is unusual for a sweet vermouth, since most are made with white wine and colored with caramel. The base white wine is Trebbiano from nearby Emilia-Romagna.
These base wines are blended with two botanical extracts. The first is the result of an experiment to recreate an herbal extract from a 1904 recipe, called “extract 94”, containing wormwood, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove & cardamom and “Mediterranean flavors” such as thyme, pine, citrus, lavender and rosebuds, and was aged for eight years in glass. The second is a White Moscato grape must (partially fermented grape juice), which was aged for a year in wood barrels, and itself infused with various botanicals.
After aging separately, the wines and both extracts were blended, sweetened, fortified (meaning alcohol was added) and then bottled.
The nose has bitter herbs, dark red fruit & baking spice, with sweet & bitterness on the mid-palate and a long, bitter finish. The color is a deep ruby red (compared to the red-brown hue of most other sweet vermouths, again, a function of being made with red vs white wine), with a luscious, syrupy mouthfeel. Compared to most other sweet vermouths, it is defined by a richer, bolder flavor which is delicious, but needs to be taken into account when mixing it into your cocktails.
Gran Lusso will be behind the bar at PDT, Pegu Club and Saxon + Parole (and some others) starting this fall.
If you want to scoop up a bottle for home use, Martini recommends using it to recreate faithful versions of old school classics like the Martinez (made with gin, sweet vermouth, Maraschino & orange bitters) or Rob Roy (scotch, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters). Given it’s strong flavor though, we’d recommend mixing with restraint so as not to overpower your other ingredients. Try using slightly less than you normally might to start; you can always add a little more later! Of course, as with all great vermouths, Gran Lusso can also be enjoyed neat or on the rocks – with a grapefruit twist is very nice. Gran Lusso will retail at about $30 for a 750ml bottle, toward the higher range of the spectrum for vermouth, but worth it in our opinion.
Adrienne is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dipsology. When she’s not drinking, sleeping & breathing cocktails, she can probably be found in Napa, drinking wine instead. You can read about her non-cocktail adventures on her blog “à la gourmande” and follow her @alstillman.