Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

An iconic Tuscan liquor, heads for the US

Italy’s not short of iconic liquors, from Frangelico, Amaretti and Limoncello, right through to Martini and Campari. But there’s one liquor brand that while lesser-known, is straight from the pages of history.

Thought by many to have been invented by Lorenzo the Magnificent in the courts of Florence, Tuscany’s Tuaca is a liqueur made of vanilla and citrus peel, making it a refreshingly zesty aperitif served before a meal, or between courses. Its popularity in Italy waned in recent years, possibly due to the fact that after the second world war, the manufacturers agreed to export their entire production of Tuaca overseas to meet foreign demand, depriving the locals, who soon forget the charms of Tuaca and moved on to other drinks.

Once Tuaca became available again in Italy, changing tastes meant demand was low and the brand was bought by a big US liquor manufacturer. With the original plant being closed in 2010, production of Tuaca has shifted to Kentucky, where it now shares a home alongside some of Louisiana’s most famous bourbons. It’s a long way from its Florentine origins, but with the biggest demand still in the US, the move keeps the recipe intact and the carbon footprint down. The legacy of Tuaca lives on.