Once upon a time there was Mirto Pilloni
Elio’s paternal grandmother, like all elderly people, loved to remember the stories of her past times, as well as her family and village, Baratili San Pietro, in the Oristano province, where she was born and raised.
Elio was very small, but he remained ecstatic to listen to how life was going on in those times and was so involved that he could no longer distinguish reality from fantasy. The winter of 1939 was terrible both for the cold and for the scarcity of food. The inhabitants of the foothill towns about 10 km away were doing worse than those of Baratili San Pietro.
Towards the end of December, they were so hungry that they began to collect myrtle berries, first to eat them and then to propose them as an exchange in nature. One day the grandmother tried to put them in the water to preserve them for a longer time and she got a decoction, but her children did not appreciate it, and actually she didn’t either. As her husband distilled some Vernaccia, he took a measuring spoon full of myrtle berries and filled it with the distillate.
The first effect was a furious quarrel with her husband who had been deprived of the distillate, but then brags about having produced the first myrtle-based liqueur. In memory of this historical background Elio wanted to produce a myrtle of the highest quality, Mirto Pilloni, which is produced with the same identical procedure at the time. They take the myrtle berries and put in an infuser and then cover themselves, sleeping, with alcohol, without considering the costs but simply retracing a recipe born from a cross-section of lived history.
The digestive of folk medicine
Red Myrtle is the most popular liqueur of Sardinia. It’s obtained from the Myrtus communis, one of the most widespread plants in the Mediterranean area, through the maceration in alcohol, grappa or brandy of the berries harvested in winter.
The organoleptic properties are contained within the skin of these blue-purple berries, which give the liquor purple and bright reflections, while the tannins of the pulp are responsible for its sharp and refined taste, sweet and bitter, with vegetal notes, rich in volatile compounds that express to the nose Mediterranean flavours of aromatic herbs.
The leaves, fruits and flowers of myrtle have always been part of folk medicine for their precious medicinal properties such as antiseptic, haemostatic, sedative, stimulant and tonic. Today it’s mostly used in liquor as a digestive.
It’s preferable to taste it after meals, even if it’s often used as an aperitif. It is best to serve iced by keeping bottles in the freezer.