So we returned from our trip to Italy with the notion that we'd like to make some Zuccherini alcolici, or maybe even Lemoncello. Naively, we thought this would require a quick trip down to Bargain Booze or similar, to pick up our bottle of 96% alcohol and then off to Tesco's for some lemon and sugar!
It quickly became clear that 96% alcohol was going to be a little more difficult than expected to come by, in fact after extensive searching on the internet the best we could come up with was some Navy strength craft gin. Nice as it would be, the result of any soaking with sugar cubes would have been a pile of, yes you guessed it ,sugar.
Not to be deterred we continued our internet trawl in search of the elusive 96% alcohol. We soon discovered that Italy is one of the few places in the world in which it is possible to purchase, what turned out to be better known as Neutral Grain Spirit, from the supermarket. Furthermore, the mixing of Neutral Grain spirit, or indeed any spirit, with other ingredients is technically known as "compounding" and unless you have a licence here in the UK, you're not allowed to do it.
My first reaction was one of dismay, which quickly moved on to the acceptance that I had a fabulous excuse to make another trip to Italy. I then started to wonder about my criminal family and the many criminal parents and grandparents up and down the UK who are happily compounding sloe Gin every Autumn.
After a bit more consideration it was apparent that producing Zuccherini alcolici was going to remain a holiday activity or needed to be taken a little more seriously if progress was to be made back at home.