Ambra Spirits: liquid gold

The bottles stand out on any bar shelf. Tall, elegant, colourful, fun, as they are reminiscent of a summer beach holiday, being golds, blues and sunset reds. It is no wonder that the Ambra range of liqueurs and spirits were born on Italy’s Amalfi coast almost 25 years ago.

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The story starts with Libero De Luca, a successful and well known Adelaide restaurateur. A little listless and wanting more from life, Libero travelled back to his native Italy to learn more about la dolce vita, the sweet life. He became enamoured with the sophisticated drinking culture of the apertivi and digestivi and loved the liqueurs like limoncello that Italy is famous for. Curious, he started tracking down the recipes, forming relationships with distillers and liqueur makers. Quietly and slowly, he learned how to extract the flavour from ripe citrus, coffee  beans and almonds using alcohol, the traditional Italian way. These generational recipes he wrote down, in Italian, in a leather-bound book.

How Ambra started

Libero, a visionary and ahead of his time, came back to Adelaide. Starting in his backyard garage, peeling lemons to make limoncello, he called his business Ambra – Italian for amber. South Australians fell in love with his  delicious lemon liqueur, limoncello. Success followed and within years Libero expanded his business to The barton, where it is still located. 

The business continued to grow as Libero continued developing more liqueurs based on his Italian recipes. Years passed and he wanted to pass on the business to someone who would honour the Italian tradition but also bring an Australian twist. The new owners had to have Italian heritage, an Italian passport and share his values for the love of the good life and wonderful flavours.

The new owners

Two old school friends, Nando Focareta and Peppe Fusco, who shared similar passions to Libero were what he was looking for. In 2013 they bought the business from Libero. It wasn’t until the money was in the bank that he handed over his old leather-bound book of recipes, which sits today under lock and key in a secret vault at Ambra. Nando and Peppe, once they had mastered the art of making the liqueurs the Italian way, expanded their liqueur range and created a gin range. 

The liqueurs and gins are still handmade in small batches using pure neutral grape spirit distilled in the Barossa Valley. This is used to extract the full flavour from the citrus skins, such as lemons, tangelos and blood oranges. The high alcohol spirit also extracts the essential oils from the botanicals such as juniper and finger lime when making the gins. 

The gin range

Ambra’s three gins include a navel gin which is a strong gin at 61% ABV with the flavour of juniper complemented with finger lime, a nod to Australian flavours. “This gin was made as a legacy to the owners’ grandfathers and all the older Italians who made the decision to leave their hometowns in Italy to start new lives in Australia,” says Claude Scorsonelli, National Sales and Marketing Manager. “They left their families to build a new life in Australia, many not seeing their wives and children for a few years until they earned enough money to bring them over. To relax they drank a higherproof alcohol called grappa.

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As seen in Spring 2021

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