March 21 marks World Vermouth Day, so we discover more about this lesser known spirit with Murray Anderson from Cucielo Vermouth.

Established in 2020 by renowned mixologist Giancarlo Mancino, Vermouth Day is chance to bring the community together and celebrate the spirit, which is currently experiencing a renaissance as more and more bartenders and drinkers discover that not only is it a fantastic cocktail ingredient but can also be the star.

Vermouth is usually crafted with a base of a neutral grape wine or unfermented wine must, before the manufacturer adds additional alcohol and a proprietary mixture of dry ingredients, consisting of aromatic herbs, roots, and barks, to the base – which may be redistilled before adding to the wine or unfermented wine must. After the wine is aromatised and fortified, the vermouth is sweetened with either cane sugar or caramelised sugar, depending on the style before being bottled.

We speak to Murray Anderson from Cucielo Vermouth to find more about the drink:

murray anderson
Murray Anderson from Cucielo Vermouth

What drew you to cocktails?

To cut a long story short, I fell in love with the science of flavour and began to capture pictures of some of the cocktails I made with my iPhone. I then began to fall in love with not just the creativity involved in photography and content creation, but the creativity in mixology!

I used to take bartending so seriously but I then realised it’s more about creating amazing drinks that people can recreate if they want to. Over the past year, I think we can all agree our bartending skills have massively improved and it’s now so apparent that great cocktails can be made in the comfort of your own home with good friends or family.

Tell us a bit about the origins of vermouth.

Vermouth is an aromatised, fortified wine. This sounds complicated, but it’s really quite simple. Firstly, Vermouth must include wormwood, similar to what juniper berries are to gin. The aromatised part comes from the botanical infusion created. This is your blend of herbs and botanicals that infuse in neutral alcohol to extract their flavour. The fortified part comes from the addition of this alcohol and some sugar. This increases the alcoholic percentage and thus, creates fortified wine. The infusion is then added to your wine base, which creates your vermouth!

As to when it was created is a bit difficult to pin down, as articles give different dates; the most popular piece of evidence comes from two brothers in Milan, Italy. Antonio and Bernadetto Carpano were said to be the creators of ‘modern vermouth’ in 1786.

What’s the difference between red and white vermouth?

Some elements that go into Cucielo white and red vermouth

In Cucielo’s and most vermouth, the wine base remains the same. We use Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Ansonica and Grillo as our wine base for both our Rosso (red) and Bianco (white) vermouth. What separates them and gives them both their unique colour is the herbs and botanicals we choose. Our Bianco is a lot lighter in flavour and uses botanicals like elderflower, cardamom & green apple. Whereas our Rosso adapts a much richer, deeper flavour. We use botanicals such as caramelised orange, rhubarb, clove and vanilla. So to answer, the difference is in the botanicals, and the lighter flavour in the Bianco tends to be a fan favourite.

What makes Cucielo’s vermouth stand out?

Cucielo is not just a vermouth, but a vermouth di Torino. Like champagne to sparkling wine or cognac to brandy, Vermouth ‘di Torino’ is a mark of quality and origin within the vermouth category. This means that whilst anyone can make vermouth, not everyone can make a vermouth di Torino as you must adhere to rules set and guided by EU Law. Cucielo Vermouth di Torino is a true, all Italian vermouth that proves its quality through the ‘di Torino’ appellation.

To be called a Vermouth di Torino, a vermouth must be aromatised wine, crafted in the Piedmont region of Italy using only Italian wines, fortified with alcohol, and have the predominant flavour of artemisia (aka wormwood), sourced from Piedmont region, together with other herbs and spices. The final product must be above 16% ABV and be bottled in Piedmont.

Apart from being an ingredient in cocktails, how would you enjoy vermouth?

That’s the beautiful thing about vermouth, its not just a cocktail ingredient, it is an excellent drink on its own – with just a block of ice! A great way to start the evening. While its not a wine, you may still finding yourself loving the botanicals and finish the whole bottle in one sitting; let’s not forget its lower ABV than other spirits!

Purchase Cucielo Bianco

Purchase Cucielo Rosso

(Images courtesy of Single And Available)

written by.
Aaron Pereira
Digital Editor
This fine chocolate man, (that is a connoisseur of fine chocolates) prefers real-life conversations and living off-screen, but is slowly and surely embracing the digital, search engine optimised life.

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