Bargain hunting? Searching for a hidden gem? This column will profile spirits known as “The Bottom Shelf”. Should you take the chance, or run like hell? Keep on reading and find out!
The spirit: Di Amore Sambuca
The price: $10.99 (750 ML)
The strength: 42% ABV (84 proof)
Why I bought it: “Escape the ordinary with the magical romantic powers of this truly unique flavor”, is what the back of the bottle says. I’m sold! All kidding aside, this was my dad’s favorite Sambuca and it quickly became mine. We went through several brands over the years, including, of course, the biggest name in the Sambuca realm which is Romana. However, we both enjoyed this more– not just because of the significantly lower price-point, but because this actually does taste better!
The nose: A sweet and pure anise scent. Do I also get the tiniest hint of lemon peel? Unlike other Bottom Shelf liqueurs, it does not dissipate after a few seconds, it remains.
The taste: At 42% ABV, Di Amore Sambuca does pack a little bit of a punch. On your first sip, you may visibly shudder as you are hit with not only the strength of this spirit but the sweetness that shocks your palate (the only negative I have). However, (and again, unlike other cheapos) the more you sip, the better it gets. Once your mouth is coated, this stuff is incredibly smooth. The anise is there, sure, but there is something else. The label says it is the “white petals of the elderberry flower” and while I cannot tell you one way or another if this is true, there is indeed something else there. This is smoother than Romana, and dare I say it, has a lot more depth. These different layers provide a pleasing drinking experience when sipped slowly following a big meal.
What to use it for: Anything you would use supposed “high grade” Sambuca for. Sip it in a snifter (or over rocks if you cannot take the strength) or add it to coffee. It is delicious either way. I also have to imagine you could bake some killer cakes or cookies with a splash of this stuff.
Final grade: A-
Comments: Considering it is about half the price as Top Shelf Sambuca, this is an unbelievable bargain. I may be slightly biased because of the connection this has to my father, but even as time goes by and my tastes continue to change and evolve, there has always been a bottle of Di Amore stashed away in my bar.