Have you ever sat down after a large meal and wished that your stomach would just digest it faster so you wouldn’t feel so tired? Well, the Italians have had a solution to this problem for a long time – it is a little digestif called limoncello.
Limoncello is a lemon flavored digestif that originated in Southern Italy. This drink is designed to kick start your digestive system after a large or heavy meal.
Research into the drink has suggested that the enzymes contained in the drink do actually improve our bodies’ abilities to digest food.
Limoncello is an alcoholic digestif and is a lemon flavored liquor.
In today’s article, we are going to help you find the perfect bottle of limoncello for you and your dinner guests. You won’t have to worry about being tired after dinner anymore.
The 5 Best Limoncellos
Caravella Limoncello – Best of the Best
When we start to look for new alcoholic (see also: Best Alcohol For Beginners)drinks, we start by asking what the locals like. This limoncello is a huge hit among our Italian friends and they even serve it at our local Italian restaurant. So, before we even tasted it, we knew it was going to be good.
This limoncello is made in Italy with local ingredients – including fresh lemons. The brightness of the liquor will give you a good idea about how fresh the ingredients were when the drink was made – the brighter the better. This is a very vivid yellow limoncello.
You can also tell that fresh and high-quality ingredients have been used in this liquor by how it tastes. This does not taste “syrup” sweet, it has a more complex “sugar cane” sweetness to it. When the wave of tartness hits, there is no denying that this drink is made of some of the best quality lemons out there. This drink is fruity, fresh, tart, and sweet all at once.
Another selling point of this limoncello is that it is incredible value for money. You would expect most well-reviewed, Italian limoncellos to cost over $35 per bottle. But Caravella comes in at $10 under that price (and that’s before the Black Friday sales!).
Did we mention that Caravella comes with 50% more drink in it than the average bottle of limoncello? The average bottle comes with 500ml (or 16.4 fluid ounces), however, the Caravella bottles come with 750ml and cost less than most 500ml bottles.
In our Buyers Guide later in the article, we talked about when it comes to limoncello you usually get what you pay for, but there are exceptions to the rule. This limoncello is a shining example of rule-breaking. It’s delicious, it’s well priced, and it’s made in Italy.
The only two downsides to this limoncello won’t be downsides to everyone. This drink has a 28% alcohol content, which is slightly below average. It also comes in a minimalist bottle that some will argue looks classy while others will argue it looks boring.
If you hate the bottle then we would recommend buying it anyway and decanting it into something more appealing.
- Fresh ingredients used
- Great color
- Tastes incredible
- Great value for money
- Bigger bottle than average – 750ml
- Basic (minimalistic) bottle
- Lower alcohol content
- Basic (minimalistic) bottle
Pallini Limoncello – Best of the Traditional
When most people in Europe think of limoncello they think of Pallini Limoncello. This Italian brand has been making limoncello since 1875 and over the +100 years they have perfected their recipe.
This limoncello is on the sweeter side and the aftertaste is closer to menthol than it is to citrus – but this is traditional. If you are looking to sample a traditional limoncello that has been drunk by millions across Europe then you should start here.
Pallini boasts that their drinks are made with the finest ingredients that are hand-picked from their own lemon orchard. This is not something many other brands can claim. This liquor is bright yellow and has an incredibly fresh flavor. It also has a fairly high alcohol content for limoncello – 30%.
Pallini also sells their drinks in a larger than average bottle, like Caravella. Both brands sell 750ml bottles, rather than the traditional 500ml bottles. If you want a traditional-looking limoncello bottle to put in your drinks cabinet then you won’t do any better than Pallini.
When you buy from a well-established brand like Pallini, you should expect a slightly higher price tag. This bottle costs nearly $10 more than the Caravella bottle. But this just comes with the territory when you buy from big and old brands like Pallini.
So, Pallini’s limoncello is a great prestige option if you are looking for a good quality bottle and you don’t mind paying a little bit more. It tastes good, looks good, and you get a lot in each bottle – an all round win for us.
- +100 year old recipe
- Made in Italy
- High-quality ingredients used
- Recognized brand
- Delicious taste
- Higher alcohol content
- Large bottle
- Higher price point
II Tramonto Limoncello – Best of the Bargains
If you are looking to try limoncello for the first time and are not sure if you are going to like it, then you might find yourself not wanting to spend a lot of money on a bottle. For all you know you won’t like it. If this sounds familiar to you then you should check outIl Tramonto Limoncello.
This is a great limoncello – it is slightly too sweet and doesn’t have as much of a complex aftertaste as the other drinks on this list. However, it is still a really refreshing drink. This is an especially good product if you are planning to mix your limoncello into cocktails or with lemonade.
The main selling point of the Il Tramonto Limoncello is its price. It is the least expensive drink on this list and it comes in a huge 750ml bottle. The size of the bottle only makes it better value for money. There are not many bottles of limoncello that taste good that come in at under $20 – but this is one of them.
This limoncello is made in Italy and has a very sweet aftertaste. This limoncello also has a high alcohol count at 30%. This is the perfect liquor for cocktail mixing.
You are paying much less for this bottle, so it is lacking a little decoration. If this is something that bother you then you should look into options #2 and #5 on this list. However, if you are happy to have a boring glass bottle then this is a great option for those of you who are bargain hunters.
- Made in Italy
- High alcohol content
- Large bottle
- Great value for money
- Slightly too sweet
- Very simple bottle
This is the only American limoncello that has made it onto this list – so let that be a testament to its quality.
This is a really interesting product as it is very different from everything else on this list. Fabrizia is a small brand that handmakes every single bottle of limoncello that it sells. They even have a secret recipe that they use to make sure that every batch is perfect.
If you want to serve and enjoy a drink that comes with a story then you and your guests will love Fabrizia. The company uses the finest ingredients, grown in the country, and they make and bottle the limoncello here in the USA – in New Hampshire to be specific.
This limoncello explodes with flavor and comes with an alcohol count of 28%. We love that it is as yellow as egg yolks and it is easy to drink. Once you start drinking it, you will struggle to stop. And, it costs less than $20 for a 750ml bottle.
The only reason that this limoncello is not higher on this list is because it can sometimes be difficult to get hold of. Because this limoncello is made by hand and is made by a small company it is made in small batches. Which in turn means that there are sometimes supply chain issues. Sometimes this limoncello sells out and it can be really hard to get your hands on.
If you can find this limoncello then we would definitely suggest that you purchase yourself a bottle – we think that it is extremely underpriced, so don’t miss out on this bargain.
- Hand made in the USA
- Full of flavor
- High-quality ingredients
- Large 750ml bottle
- Not made in Italy
- Lower alcohol content
- Shorter shelf life
- Sells out
Our final limoncello recommendation is another traditional limoncello brand from Italy. Gioia Lusia is a limoncello company based in Sorrento. Every single lemon they use comes from the Amalfi region of Italy. They also brew all their limoncello in Italy before bottling it and shipping it around the world.
Gioia Luisa has been making limoncello for over 80 years now. The recipe is based on an old family recipe from the Amalfi region. It perfectly blends the sugar and lemon but does have a strong menthol aftertaste.
If you want to enjoy the authentic taste of Gioia Luisa without breaking the bank, then you are best off getting a set like this. You can get 4 bottles for just over $100 when a single bottle usually costs $45+.
We also love the shape of the bottles that this limoncello comes in. They are very traditional and would look completely at home on the shelf of an Italian taverna.
- Higher alcohol count
- Made in Italy
- Authentic taste
- +80 year old recipe
- Amazing bottles
- High price per bottle
- Smaller bottles – 500ml
Choosing the Best Limoncello
If you are new to buying limoncello or any kind of alcohol online, then it can be hard to know where to start. This is why we have put together this guide for you.
It contains 5 questions that you should answer before buying yourself a bottle of limoncello. Your answers to the questions will help you to narrow down your search and find yourself the perfect bottle.
Where Do You Want Your Limoncello To Be Made?
Limoncello is traditionally made in Southern Italy – however, more recently, it can be made anywhere in the world that grows lemons. Even anywhere in the world where you can buy lemons.
If you are concerned about your limoncello being made in a traditional location then you should expect to pay more for it. A limoncello made outside of Italy may be less traditional but it should come at a better price.
How Much Do You Want To Spend On A Single Bottle Of Limoncello?
The average bottle of limoncello can cost anywhere from $25 – $55. With more expensive bottles costing upwards of $65 per bottle. You will struggle to find any full-sized bottles of limoncello for under $22.
When buying a bottle of limoncello, you tend to get what you pay for. However, you will have noticed throughout this article that there are some exceptions to this rule.
Buying Italian limoncello will make your purchase more expensive as you will have to pay import fees and taxes on top of the cost of the bottle.
If you are looking to save money on good quality limoncello then you might want to consider buying in bulk.
What Alcohol Content Do You Want Your Bottle Of Limoncello To Have?
Sometimes less is more. There are a few brands out there whose main selling points are how high the alcohol counts are in their spirits and liquors.
If you want a drink with a high alcohol count then you will definitely have to sacrifice on flavor. The average limoncello has an alcohol count of 30%. Limoncello is a liquor, so it will not have the same alcohol count as some of the harder spirits, but it will still be much higher than beer and wine.
Do You Want Your Limoncello To Be Sweet, Bitter, Or Both?
Traditionally a limoncello is sweet when it first hits the tongue and then has a bitter (but citrusy) aftertaste. This happens because limoncello is made of sugar and lemons. If the drink doesn’t have one of these key flavor notes then high-quality ingredients may not have been used.
If you do not like the bitterness of a limoncello then you are better off adding lemonade to it than buying a cheap bottle that is sweet- it is likely that they have not used real lemons to make it.
Do You Care How Cool The Bottle Looks?
If the presentation of the bottle is important to you then you will already be aware that you are happy to spend more money to get a good-looking bottle.
However, if you are only interested in what is inside the bottle then you can save yourself a lot of money by picking something not so easy on the eye. The bottle is no representation of how good the drink will taste.
Frequently Asked Questions
Limoncello is a lemon liquor that is predominantly made in Southern Italy. It is rarely made in America, so we find that there aren’t many people that know a lot about the drink. In this section, we are going to answer the 3 most common questions we are asked about limoncello and how to drink it.
Is Limoncello Alcoholic?
Limoncello was originally designed to get your digestive system working, this is why it is often drunk after meals in Italy. However, many people do not realize that it has a high alcohol content as well as health benefits.
Most limoncellos have an alcohol content of around 30% – for context, the average American beer has an alcohol content of 4.5%. Limoncello is a liquor rather than a spirit, as it contains sugar and other flavorings.
What Is Limoncello Made From?
Limoncello is traditionally made with lemons from Southern Italy – but it can be made with lemons from anywhere in the world.
The 3 main ingredients of the drink are lemon juice, sugar, and rectified spirits. Some recipes also call for the use of water.
It is possible to make your own limoncello but if you are looking for a traditional experience of the drink then you should try one of the 5 suggestions above.
To check out some other popular Italian digestifs and aperitifs, check out our resource on Campari vs Aperol next.
Do You Drink Limoncello Straight?
Limoncello is traditionally served after a meal in Italy. It was designed to kick start your digestion after eating and some studies have shown that the drink contains beneficial enzymes.
Because the drink has these health benefits, it is traditionally drunk straight from a shot glass or sipping glass. However, there are many people who think the drink is too strong straight, you can have it served over ice or with lemonade or ginger beer.