At the forefront of the high-end grappa movement, family-run distillers Nonino have been experimenting with grappa from their Friuli home-base in northeastern Italy since 1897. The family has since perfected their artisanal techniques and created single-grape grappa (or Monovitigno®, a word which didn’t exist in the Italian dictionary until Nonino invented it), revolutionising the tipple's production.
We've been admiring the family’s artisanal product for a while. Thus, for our Handmade exhibition, we wanted to work out a way to take (and drink) our grappa everywhere we go. We enlisted Dutch design duo Scholten & Baijings, to create a series of pocket-sized vessels inspired by the single-grape approach of Nonino's distillers.
Their portable metal flasks come with a small cup with which to drink your grappa anywhere, and their shape combines a classic flask silhouette with the duo's signature lines. The shades of the fruit’s skin and texture have inspired a colour palette that interprets nature and celebrates the liquor’s precious origins. 'Inspired by Dutch masters, who have been trying to capture the beauty of the grape on canvas ever since the 16th century, we designed five different colour series for the flasks,' explains Carole Baijings, who heads the design studio with Stefan Scholten. 'The five colour compositions complement the five selected Nonino grappa Monovitigno® varieties.'
In fact, each flask has a grappa soul mate – from the pink iteration for Merlot grapes, to a fresh green for white Prosecco. The blue flasks represent the special grappa Monovitigno® Chardonnay in Barriques (the darker colour) and the Cuvée Monovitigni® Vintage (the lighter), while yellow is for the Moscato.
This 'grappa on the go' concept works particularly well with the Italian company’s latest venture: creating a series of cocktails from their house liquors. The drinks (over 20 concoctions conceived by the family themselves as well as by international barmen and mixologists) include grappa-laced interpretations of classics, such as the Nonino Libre or the Nonino Tonic, while others offer innovative mixes, such as the Black Vino, a combination of muddled blackberries with Giffard Muroise liqueur and Yukihime plum wine with the white Chardonnay Monovitigno® grappa, created by Singapore-based mixologist Naz Arjuna. We couldn't help but sampling them at our Handmade party in Milan this past April.
The vast Nonino cocktail library is a grand addition to their rich product family – and a perfect example of how a company so rooted in a tradition of purity can maintain its identity while experimenting with its products.