Vanilla, cardamom, citrus peel, cinnamon — all flavors you’ll find in nocino, an elusive walnut liqueur that Boardroom Spirits’ co-owner and distiller Marat Mamedov says “tastes like Christmas in a cup.” The Montgomery County-based distillery released its second batch of the seasonal Italian spirit this year, tweaking the formula to make it more well-rounded and sippable.
The distilling process began in June, when Boardroom received a shipment of green walnuts from California. The unripe nuts are broken down, then left to soak in vodka and barrel-aged grape brandy. They impart a bitter, espresso-esque flavor that rounds out the blend of warm spices that give nocino its holiday profile.
Before it’s bottled, the liqueur is cut with water and wildflower honey. While last year’s nocino clocked in at 80 proof, this year’s came down to 56 proof to better showcase the spirit’s fruity complexity and rich body.
You can easily sip it straight, but Mamedov likes to sub nocino in for amaro and vermouth — he’ll use it for half of the sweet vermouth in a Manhattan. Besides the Landsdale distillery, you’ll find Boardroom’s nocino behind the bars at Charlie was a sinner., Royal Boucherie, Urban Village Brewing Co., Vernick Food & Drink, and Zahav.