What alcohol is Fernet considered?

Answered by Robert Dupre

Fernet is considered a type of liqueur within the broader category of amari, or herbal, bittersweet liqueurs. These liqueurs are known for their unique flavor profiles, which typically include a combination of herbal, bitter, and sweet notes. Fernet, in particular, stands out with its mentholated and bitter taste.

One defining characteristic of Fernet is its relatively high alcohol by volume (ABV) compared to other liqueurs. While most liqueurs have ABVs ranging from 15% to 30%, Fernet tends to have a punchier ABV, typically falling between 30% and 45%. This higher alcohol content contributes to its strong and intense flavor.

Fernet is made by infusing a base spirit, such as grape brandy or grain alcohol, with a variety of botanicals and herbs. The exact recipe for Fernet can vary, but common ingredients include chamomile, cardamom, aloe, myrrh, saffron, mint, and rhubarb. These botanicals are steeped in the spirit and then aged in oak barrels, allowing the flavors to meld and develop over time.

The origins of Fernet can be traced back to 19th century Italy, where it was initially created for medicinal purposes. It was believed to aid digestion, soothe upset stomachs, and provide other health benefits. Over time, Fernet gained popularity as a digestif and began to be enjoyed for its unique taste rather than just its medicinal properties.

Fernet has a distinct and acquired taste that is not for everyone. The mentholated and bitter flavors can be quite polarizing, with some people loving it and others finding it challenging to enjoy. It is often consumed neat or on the rocks, but it can also be used as an ingredient in cocktails, adding complexity and depth to the drink.

Personally, I have had the opportunity to try Fernet on a few occasions. I must admit, I was initially taken aback by its strong and bitter taste. However, over time, I developed an appreciation for its unique flavor profile. I find it particularly enjoyable after a heavy meal as it helps to settle my stomach. While it may not be my go-to choice for a liqueur, I can certainly understand why some people are drawn to its distinctive characteristics.

Fernet is considered a subcategory of amari, or herbal, bittersweet liqueurs. It is known for its mentholated and bitter flavor profile, as well as its higher ABV compared to other liqueurs. Fernet is made by infusing a base spirit with a variety of botanicals, and it has a long history rooted in Italian tradition. Its acquired taste and unique characteristics make it a beloved choice for those seeking a bold and distinctive liqueur experience.