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Garofalo Artisan Liqueurs
Terry Sullivan

Garofalo Artisan LiqueursSummary: If you enjoy artisan liqueurs, stop by Garofalo Artisan Liqueurs to taste some wonderful liqueurs. The Walnut Liqueur is from a family recipe that is over a century old.

Dick Garofalo, 77, was the creative force behind Garofalo Artisan Liqueurs in Winchester, Virginia. Before becoming a commercial alcohol beverage company, Dick had experimented making liqueurs. He credited his grandmother, Francesca Inzero who moved to the United States with her family from Sarno, Italy in 1897. During the American Prohibition, Francesca made wine and liqueur. Ninety years later, Dick was using his grandmother’s recipe for a yummy walnut liqueur.

Friends and family encouraged Dick to make commercial liqueurs, so these fabulous alcoholic beverages could be shared with others. Dana Norris also encouraged Dick, and the two became partners and opened Garofalo Artisan Liqueurs. Dick passed away in 2016, and the business fell to Dana to continue to offer not only the walnut liqueur, but several others.

Production Area

We met Dana who continues the passion of crafting artisan liqueurs in the warehouse on North Kent Street. Walking into Suite 4, offices are on the left and a tasting room is on the right. The production area is down the hallway. Stainless steel tanks, glass containers and plastic drums are in the area. Dana sources grain alcohol from North Carolina. He uses this grain alcohol to infuse or blend to make the different liqueurs in the portfolio. The grain alcohol is 190 proof or 80% alcohol. Dana spoke about the future saying that Garofalo Artisan Liqueurs is “trying to branch out with a variety of products and distribution.”

Garofalo Artisan LiqueursWe saw a jar with walnuts in it. The liqueur in the jar was a dark brown to black color. These walnuts were harvested early in June. In Italy, crafting a walnut liqueur is known as Nocino when made from a distilled wine base. However, Garofalo Artisan Liqueurs uses a grain alcohol base to make their walnut liqueur. Dana also makes a walnut liqueur with the hardened black walnuts. He admits that harvesting the fallen black walnuts is easier than climbing a tree to pick the soft green walnuts in June. In the jar, the June green walnuts were easily quartered. The infusion will take about 15 months. Spices are also added. This is the same recipe that Dick Garofalo’s Grandmother used.

Garofalo Artisan LiqueursDana had Kathy sniff the aroma from two tanks with a cherry infusion and a coffee blend. The four liqueurs in the portfolio include the walnut infused liqueur, a coffee blended liqueur, a cherry infused liqueur and a ginger/lime infusion. The cherries used to infuse the liqueur will remain in the tank for over a year. The coffee beans are roasted and then coffee made and filtered prior to blending with the grain alcohol. Limes are grated and used to infuse the liqueur.

Tasting Room

The tasting room is small and quaint. The L-shaped tasting counter has comfortable stools for sitting during the tasting. Several glasses are placed in a setting, one for each liqueur and one for water. We tasted each of the liqueurs. Notice the delightful labels on the bottles. These were created by an artist in Italy.

Garofalo Artisan LiqueursThe Francesca Inzero Walnut Liqueur was named after Dick’s grandmother. There is a photo of his grandmother on the bottle. The 41% alcohol (82 proof) liqueur was a light brown color.It had a walnut aroma and taste. The liqueur reminded me of Kathy’s sweet rolls made with a recipe from her childhood. There was a bit of heat on the liqueur’s finish.

The Tart Cherry Liqueur was a dark gold color and was 30% alcohol (60 proof). It had a cherry aroma and taste. The liqueur was very smooth and there was no burn on the finish.

As an experiment, Dana had us make a blend of the Tart Cherry and the Walnut liqueurs. The result was a liqueur with a dark gold color. The aroma and taste was reminiscent of sweet rolls with a cherry aftertaste.

Garofalo Artisan LiqueursThe Night Life Coffee Liqueur was a translucent, dark brown color. At 30% alcohol (60 proof), the liqueur had a strong coffee aroma. Coffee was also noticed on the taste along with light brown sugar. The liqueur was smooth and had no heat on the finish.

The Ginger Lime Liqueur was inspired by mixologists who use ginger and lime in many cocktails. The cloudy colored liqueur was 30% alcohol (60 proof). It had a lime aroma and lime and ginger taste. The liqueur was very smooth and had a very long lime and ginger aftertaste.

Visitors should call to make an appointment to visit and taste the liqueurs. All of the liqueurs make excellent drinks as aperitifs and can blend with other ingredients for cocktails.

Garofalo Artisan Liqueurs
830 N. Kent Street
Suite 4
Winchester, Virginia 22601

GPS: N 39º 11.807’ W 78º 09.345’


Article written October 2016


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Copyright: Terry and Kathy Sullivan 2016