Pallini is one of Rome’s oldest and most well-known distilleries that has been active for the last 140 years. Furthermore, it continues to operate as a family business today! Given its importance, it’s no surprise that Pallini’s limoncello is one of the easiest to find in the USA.
Pallini has a overall hazy and milky appearance in both the bottle and the glass. Its aromas of lemon and sugar are subtle on the nose. Meanwhile, they pair well and result in a smooth tart profile. Finally, it delivers has a slightly antiseptic note on the finish, which is surprisingly pleasant as it lingers with a touch of citrus.
"A rich yet balanced limoncello with a harmonious marriage of zesty, sweet, and tart flavours."
Bottega is one of Italy’s oldest vitners that can trace its history back to 1635 when the family first worked for the Counts of Callalto. Today, it has received over 280 prizes and awards for its liquor and wine. It’s likely for this reason that its limoncello is referred to as the older name, “limoncino”.
Its limoncello is made with traditional Sorrento lemons, which are peeled by hand when at their freshest and then infused for a month with the alcohol. Finally, it receives a touch of grappa as well as the sguar when bottled, which results in a unique flavour.
Meletti is best known for its anisette and sambuca, which were first produced by Silvo Meletti in his mother’s small shop in 1870. Meletti’s limoncello follows a similar path and is made using an authentic Italian family recipe.
Like Meletti, Luxardo is a better known for something else. In this case, it is often associated with having perfected marascino cherry liqueur. Luxardo was founded in 1821 and has endured hardships through both world wars. After it was bombarded during the Second World War, the distillery moved to Torreglia.
Luxardo contradicts claims that limoncello is a relatively recent product by stating that their recipe was first advertised in 1905. Furthermore, it’s a little different from other recipes in that Luxardo also uses the pulp and juice in its production.
Consequently, the limoncello has a rich, oily aroma of lemon, which is particularly potent on the palate too. Its mouthfeel is thick and heavy while the limoncello delivers complex flavours.
Aside from it being imported from Italy by the Prestige Beverage Group, we don’t have much information about Il Tramonto limoncello. Therefore, it appears to be a private label, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Il Tramonto is cloudy with a yelow-green hue. It delivers slightly toasted yet zesty aromas with a hint of yeast. For a limoncello, it’s surprisingly tart and Il Tramonto also offers a milder body than some of the heavy hitters in this list.
Fabrizia is an artisanal American producer of limoncello in New Hampshire that follows a traditional recipe. Its limoncello is completely handmade in small batches with fruit obtained through direct relationship with Sunkist Growers in California and Gruppo Villari in Sicily.
The result is a wonderfully harmonious limoncello with a lively nose and balanced flavour. The finish is somewhat drier than Italian limoncello with a viscous mouthfeel.
Although a few of the distilleries listed here do produce their own crema di limoncello, if you’re going to try one, it ought to be from Pallini. At first, limoncello cream is a little unusual but you quickly get used to it. The creaminess works well with the lemon zest and it is very refreshing if topped up as a cream soda.
Gabriello Santoni is a well-known distiller in Italy who was recently awarded a knighthood by the Italian Republic. Therefore, he changed his brand name from Gabriello Santoni to Knight Gabriello. This is the reason why you may occasionally see two different names in circulation.
His limoncello is produced using only organically-grown lemons. The resulting flavour is distinct and supple with an overall sweet finish.
Moley is the second of only two limoncellos that we’ve featured, which hasn’t been produced in Italy. Interestingly, it even comes from the Balearic Island of Mallorca off the Spanish coast. Featuring a very distinctive bottle, it’s made using a traditional Italian recipe with local lemon peels.
While Landucci isn’t our favourite limoncello, it does offer something that others don’t. For instance, it’s significantly milder at just 17% ABV so those who aren’t fond of strong spirits may prefer it for this reason.
Furthermore, it has a creamy finish with a certain lemon tartness. Although it isn’t as sweet as other offerings, it does lack a certain citrus burst so it may not be a particularly authentic experience compared to the brands above. Finally, it’s also very cheap at just $16 for a bottle!
Like grappa and perhaps sambuca too, limoncello has become an Italian staple and can be found in most homes in its native country. However, it’s surprisingly difficult to find in the USA unless you live in a neighbourhood with a strong Italian-American community.
Nevertheless, most Italian restaurants will likely stock at least one bottle of limoncello, which they’ll be delighted to serve if you ask.
Thankfully, the internet tends to cover the bases and a number of online retailers have noticed the growing interest in Italian limoncello. Furthermore, the flourishing cocktail culture is a great help as mixologists are regularly searching for new and exciting cocktail ingredients.
Reserve Bar is one of our first choice for buying liquor online. While they only sell one limoncello brand, it happens to Pallini and it also retails the crema di limoncello version too.
Otherwise, Drizly is an excellent alternative. Having partnered with local liquor stores, it functions as a country-wide search engine and finds nearby shops that store the liquor that you want. When you place your order, it’s fulfilled by the store, which will quickly deliver it straight to your door.
The upside of this is that it’s fast and allows for an exciting variety of buying options. However, the only disadvantage is that it’s entirely dependent on the shops that are local to you. Therefore, although everything above is available on Drizly, not all of them may ship to your address.
As you may have noticed, limoncello tends to vary in price but usually oscillates around the $20 price point. Occasionally, premium or artisanal brands will sell their bottles for around or above $25. However, there are cheaper brands whose prices are closer to $15.
Unlike many other spirits, there’s no ageing process except for the long infusion of the lemon peels in the alcohol. Yet, the quality of the ingredients may play a significant role in the final price.
For instance, traditional limoncello producers will only use one variety of lemon, which should be carefully peeled by hand. Furthermore, there should be no other ingredients except for sugar, alcohol, and water. Therefore, their choice in ingredients and their quality will greatly affect the resulting price.
Now that you have read about the best limoncello brands, why don’t you check out more of our resources?