The pharmacist's Grappa

  • Plant: White wormwood (Achillea Clavennae)
  • Plant part: flower
  • Plant feauters: digestive, astringent, vulnerary, aromatic
The pharmacist's Grappa
  • Description:

    In 1609, a pharmacist named Nicolò Chiavenna from Belluno, published a botanical essay entitled «Historia Absinthium Umbelliferi»; in the book, he asserted that  he had discovered an aromatic herb looking like common wormwood  and featuring interesting healing properties on the slopes of Mount Serva.                 
    He actually named  it "Mount Serva wormwood" and he recommended it as an effective remedy against stomach-ache and digestion problems.         His intuition was correct, since all of the experiments he carried out with various preparations of its herb (jams, infusions and powders) prooved him right in the end. Even the  bishop of Belluno, Aloisio Lollino, thanked  him openly  after recovering from a long and annoying upset stomach thanks to the chemist's remedy: «Nos Aloysius Lomnus Belluni Episcopus . .. cognoverimus usum Absintij umbelljferi ... ad frigidam stomachi intemperaturam plurimum conferre ... ».          
    These merits together with the importance of Nicolò's researches made him so well-known that Linneo himself named a plant after his name over one century later. The species Achillea Clavenae is one out of many "Achillea" (dedicated to Achille because of its legendary properties) species common in Alpine areas.    
    When picking up this plant, a scent reminding of wormood  goes straight  up the nose  and this must be the reason why our author named it that way.

The recipe

  • Ingredients:

    - about 10 Achillea Clavenae fresh blooms
    - 1 liter Grappa
    - few leaves of lemon verbena (to taste)
    - a vanilla bean (to taste)
    - cinnamon chips (to taste)
    - bitter orange peel (to taste)
    - brown sugar (to taste)

  • Preparation:

    Leave the fresh Achillea Clavenae blooms in the grappa to macerate for a month and then let the infusion age for a further month.The flavour and the scent is similar to many wormwood-based spirits.

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