The Sorrento area in southern Italy is famous for it’s Feminello St Teresa lemons, better known as Sorrento Lemons. Enormous, sweet lemons that are specific to that region. The limoncello is created by macerating the peels in alcohol for 4 days. After this it is blended with sugar syrup and water. A lot of my friends make it at home, it’s that easy! Although buying neutral alcohol is not that easy in some countries, like mine.
I once managed to buy 5 litres at a NATO-base in Brunssum in the deep south of Holland after giving a seminar for the bored-to-death soldiers who drenched their evenings in alcohol. Anyway, I created my own limoncello, but after tasting Villa Massa, I realised getting the right ingredients is a bit more difficult here, then it is in Italy!
Villa Massa is an old brand of Limoncello, based on an over-a-century old family recipe dating back to 1890. Of the Famiglia Massa that is. It is created in their family farm (which is called Villa in Italian), located in Piano di Sorrento, close to Naples and in the very heart of the limoncello-area. Because it is made from only Sorrento lemons and also created and bottled in this area, it is one of the very few Limoncello’s that have the P.G.I. mark, a proof of authenticity that a product receives when the ingredients are only from a certain area.
The bottle: The bottle is made of frosted, slightly green glass with a label that displays the entrance of the family mansion. Visually not the most exciting appearance, but it accentuates the tradional area where it originates from.
The nose: The scent of fresh lemons with a somewhat bitter nose from the zest. This contains some oils that are more bitter, but it all balances out really nice.
The contents: Lovely and gentle sweet taste, slightly tangerine, typical for the Sorrento lemons. Pretty sweet and enjoyed straight from the freezer, giving it a smooth, silky-like texture. There’s a slight hint of bitterness in it, coming from the essential oils in the lemonzest.
The mixability: Limoncello is traditionally drunk after dinner, straight from the freezer. But it is also perfect for mixing with soft drinks, like Tonic or in cocktails. See below for a recipe.
Overall: This is a very nice liqueur, well belanced and very accessible. Enjoyed in many ways and always refreshing.
How to: A cocktail is best enjoyed in good company, so I will give you a recipe for a nice jug of Villa Masso Mojito, enough for you and your 5 best friends!
Cut 3 nice lemons in quarters and squeeze these into the jug. You can drop them in after this, they make a great decoration with their bright yellow peels. Pour in 36 cl Villa Massa Limoncello – you can pick up small bottles of VM that measure 35 cls, also perfect. Place 10 large sprigs of mint (about 60 leaves) between your hands and bruise them slightly by ‘clapping’ them: this releases the flavour, but keeps the bitter oils inside the leaf! No need to get the leafs off of the stem, just leave ‘em on.
Fill the jug with icecubes and some sodawater and stir gently, combining all flavours. Do you prefer a sweeter taste, use lemonade instead of sodawater.