The history of Luxardo. One of the oldest family-owned European firms producing liqueurs.

The Beginning of Maraschino

Luxardo is a family-owned company founded in Zara, a port city on the Dalmatian coast of what is now Croatia. Girolamo Luxardo, a Genovese businessman, and his wife, Maria Canevari, moved to Zara in 1817. It was Maria who began perfecting "rosolio maraschino," a liqueur produced in Dalmatian convents since medieval times from special maraschino cherries. Canevari's liqueur was of such high quality that it gained the attention of connoisseurs, and her husband founded the Luxardo Distillery in 1821 to produce her original Maraschino. Not long afterwards, the Emperor of Austria awarded the Luxardo liqueur the highest honor "Privilegiata Fabbrica Maraschino Excelsior." The distillery remained under the family's control and prospered by exporting the liqueur to aficionados around the world. The Maraschino liqueur became an essential cocktail ingredient internationally, and is found in classics such as the Last Word, Martinez and Hemingway cocktails of the late 19th and early 20th century. The distillery also expanded to create other fruit-based and herbal liqueurs such as Bitter, Limoncello and Amaro Abano.

Relocation to Italy

In 1913, Michelangelo Luxardo built the most modern and massive distillery in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This building survived World War I; but was ultimtely destroyed in World War II by Anglo-American bombings. Only one member of the fourth generation, Giorgio Luxardo, survived the World War II invasion and fled to Italy. Escaping with only a cherry sapling, Giorgio crossed the Adriatic Sea to the Veneto region of northeast Italy and reconnected with a colleague who had saved the Luxardo recipe book. Armed with the surviving tools and a desire to reestablish his family's legacy, Giorgio chose the small Veneto city of Torreglia to rebuild the distillery in 1946. At this new home, Luxardo restored its extensive product line of Italian liqueurs and continued to export the products to markets around the world. Luxardo continues to produce Maraschino to Maria Canevari's original recipe, as it was written down in 1821. Today, Luxardo is operated by Franco Luxardo of the family's fifth generation, along with members of the sixth.


Girolamo Luxardo

At the fall of the Venetian republic in 1797, Zara was designated the capital of the Kingdom of Dalmatia, under Austrian sovereignity. A citizen from Genova, Girolamo Luxardo, was sent to Zara as consular representative of the Kingdom of Sardinia; he moved there with his family in 1817. His wife Maria Canevari was especially interested in perfecting a "rosolio maraschino", a liqueur produced in Dalmatia since medieval times and often made in convents. Her husband Girolamo founded a distillery in 1821 to produce Maraschino.


First Luxardo poster

After 8 years of research and perfecting the product he obtained an exclusive "privilege" from the Emperor of Austria: this was a valuable and cherished acknowledgment of the superior quality of the Luxardo liqueur, and today the firm continues to be proud to bear the denomination of: "PRIVILEGIATA FABBRICA MARASCHINO EXCELSIOR"


In 1913 the 3rd generation Michelangelo Luxardo and Nicolo I Luxardo, built an extremely modern distillery, one of the largest in the entire Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Even today people coming into Zara cannot help noticing the imposing structure on the harbor edge, which housed the offices and the living apartments of the Luxardo family.


At the end of the First World War Zara was incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy as 85% of its population were Italians. The Luxardo company soon became the most important distillery in the country. The beginning of the Second World War in 1940 severely hampered industrial activity. After indiscriminate and repeated Anglo-American bombings in 1943-44, the distillery was almost completely destroyed, as was the city.


At the end of 1944 the German troops withdrew from Dalmatia and then followed the occupation by Tito's communist partisans. The great majority of the surviving Italian population fled into exile, in Italy and elsewhere (Australia, Canada, The Americas etc.), but many - too many - were killed: among them Piero Luxardo and Nicolò with his wife Bianca, forcibly drowned by the invaders. It appeared then, that after more than a century of activity, the Luxardo firm was destined to disappear.


In 1947 Giorgio Luxardo had the courage and vision to rebuild the distillery in the Veneto region, our present plant at Torreglia (Padova), together with the young fifth generation Nicolò.
And so a new chapter in the ongoing family history was opened.


The sixth generation of the family is today active in the company, manufacturing Maraschino which made their name known world wide, as well as a full line of classic Italian liqueurs such as Sambuca, Amaretto, Cherry Liqueur Morlacco, Grappa, Limoncello, Passione Nera. A second line includes a gourmet division with liqueur concentrates for bakers and ice cream manufacturers fruit syrups, the Original Maraschino Cherries and a selection of premium jams.


The Luxardo Maraschino follows the original recipe from 1821, and requires four years to produce. Cherries are harvested from Luxardo's own trees and the solid components are then infused in larchwood vats for three years. The product is distilled in small copper pot stills and aged in Finnish ash wood for the remaining year. Finally, a combination of sugar and water is added before bottling. 32% ABV

Luxardo Maraschino Cherries are proprietary sour marasca cherries that are candied and steeped in a syrup made of cherry juice and sugar. The Luxardo family exclusively cultivates over 29,000 Marasca Cherry trees in the Veneto region of Italy. This product is all natural, with no coloring agents added, and it is certified Kosher.

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