SpiritsHandpicked by IWSC

Award-winning amaro: 14 top bitter Italian liqueurs

From dark and complex to floral and citrusy, these award-winning amaros from the IWSC show the full range of flavours you can get from the bitter Italian liqueur

Words by IWSC judges

amaro drink in glass
Handpicked by IWSC

When it comes to amaro, the clue is in the name: the word for the herbal Italian liqueur literally translates as ‘bitter’. Not to be confused with mini bottles of cocktail bitters (such as those made by Angostura, where you’d only ever want to add a dash to season your drink), these potable bitters are best enjoyed as a more substantial component in a cocktail, topped with soda or simply poured over ice.

Amaro has been drunk for centuries, and more traditionally enjoyed as a digestivo in Italy. Some of the best are household names – especially since the cocktail revival has seen the style popularised; think Campari, Aperol and Fernet Branca. The liqueur is made through the sweetening and flavouring of a base spirit and you can expect something of a bitter edge. The resulting aromas of the drink can range from citrus and spice through to roots and bark in darker examples of the liqueur.

amaro sour cocktail with garnish

This year’s IWSC saw a range tasted and rated by judges, with Rossi d’Angera Distillatori’s Lago Maggiore Amaro winning a Gold medal and an impressive 95 points for its ‘dark herbal palate’ complete with caramel sugar and gingery spice.

Fellow Gold medal winner Ebo Lebo Gran Riserva Amaro impressed with bitter florals and sweet baking spice on the palate – making it an ideal digestif. And showcasing the range of flavours you can get with the drink style, Seri Pervas Riserva Amaro scored 90 points for its prominent coffee flavours and notes of roasted nuts and winter spices.

Find even more diverse digestives and cocktail cupboard must-haves in this list of six of the best amaros from Italy, all medal winners at this year’s IWSC.

amaro and coke in glass with lemon and ice

HOW DO WE JUDGE THESE SPIRITS?

We run a tightly structured, rigorous spirits tasting process. That means that each spirit sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC spirit judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the drinks industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.

HOW DO WE SCORE THESE SPIRITS?

Only the best spirits sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, spirits have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.

MORE FROM CLUB OENOLOGIQUE

Club O is an exclusive community and the go-to platform for wine and spirit lovers. Our flagship Club Oenologique magazine offers even more insights for enthusiasts and collectors. Based in London, our editorial team tells informative, inspirational stories from the world of wine and spirits, gastronomy and travel, as well as covering recommendations and the latest trends in drink. You can take a look at our Explained series, for instance, where we’re tackling grape varieties, regions and styles of wine and spirits. Alternatively, visit our Ask the Sommelier section, where experts answer your wine-related questions.

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