Some people hear the word “nocino” and think about Italy, the place of its birth. But if you’re anything like me, you instantly think, “Ah, Columbus, Ohio.”
Allow me to explain: I’ve just had the chance to try the Barrel Finished Nocino produced by Columbus’s Watershed Distillery. It’s an annual limited release distilled from grain and fruit, infused with Ohio walnuts and finished in bourbon barrels.
The digestif has a nutty, fruity nose containing marzipan, gingerbread, fruitcake and molasses, plus a darker fruit element consisting of cranberries and blackcurrants. It proves velvety soft on the palate, kicking off with those dark, faintly tart notes of cranberry and black currant.
Its sweet, candied walnut flavors emerge at the center, alongside sticky molasses and ginger cake. Towards the back, the sweet, nutty, baking spice flavors continue with apple cake, candied ginger, and vanilla frosting. Its finish goes all-in with rich vanilla bean, followed by a whisper of oak and final touches of walnut.
It may be cliche, but if I were to describe Watershed’s Nocino in four words, it would be “Christmas in a bottle.” The limited release seems to encapsulate every dessert you might encounter at a Christmas potluck—gingerbread, fruitcake, cranberry sauce, Jewish apple cake with vanilla frosting—alongside a slight chaser of bourbon. It’s a fine way to finish off any dinner, Christmas Day or otherwise.
— 24.9% ABV