Historical Follies: Things that didn't work - LimoncelloQuest

Historical Follies: Things that didn’t work


I’ve tried plenty of things to this point and many of them were failures so I’ll share them with you lest you repeat my mistakes.

Liquor selection – Avoid 190 proof grain alcohol, it can work if you cut it with vodka, but then what’s the point?

Filtration – To speed the process, I’ve made unfiltered batches. No one needs Limoncello that badly, filter it.

Not letting it rest – It’s really hard to be patient, especially with your first few batches, but exercise as much patience as you can. It’s possible to make a batch of Limoncello start to finish in 10 days, but again, no one needs Limoncello that badly. The faster you make it, the worse it will turn out regardless of the ingredients.

Adding ingredients – My only real run in with this was taking a recipe that called for vanilla bean to make the Limoncello smoother. The result was a liquor that tasted like vanilla. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t Limoncello either. Using less might make this better but vanilla is a potent flavor.

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(11) comments

Jill Riley August 23, 2010

Oh boy do I wish I had found this before last night! Rookie mistake #1: used the 190 proof Everclear I found at the discount liquor store.

Any suggestions on what to do next? It’s currently turning a lovely yellow color as it extracts all that lemony goodness, but I’m a little afraid of eventually drinking it!

Great site–I’ve already learned lots!

Ben September 2, 2010

Don’t worry about it. Just use the calculator to get the proof of the final product right and let it rest a little longer.

Vic September 9, 2010

Oh crap, I wish I’d found this post 2 hours ago. I just (30 minutes ago) sealed up my 4x filtered 190 proof everclear with the lemon zest. They didn’t have anything less here in North Carolina, so I’m not sure what I could have gotten instead.

Like Jill, I too am scared to eventually have to drink it without cutting it with plenty of simple syrup, and then I’m afraid it’s going to turn out sickly sweet. The good news is I am in no hurry and have no problem letting it sit for the next 3 months. Will that “fix” it?

Ben September 16, 2010

It’s ok, just use the calculator on the site to get the proper ratio of simple syrup to alcohol. If you’re worried about sweetness, target an alcohol % in the 30-40 range.

Jill Riley October 4, 2010

We just added in our simple syrup to a final alcohol content of 30%. Our taster sample was obviously pretty rough, but encouraging! Vic, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be nasty sickly sweet, especially once it’s mellowed and chilled. I’m looking forward to the finished product.

LRS November 8, 2015

I just did the same thing as the other posters, used two bottles of 190 proof grain alcohol. What exactly do you mean when you say cut it with Vodka? Would making a second batch with Vodka and combining the two help? If yes what proof vodka?

Ben November 15, 2015

Yes, you could cut it with vodka (the proof doesn’t matter if you’re doing the dilution math correctly). Or you could add more simple syrup.

DIEM November 23, 2015

What is your recommendation with regards to the brand of vodka of you can’t find Everclear? Is it worth using a highrr more “smooth” brands such as Belvedere or Kettle one, Svenka…etc…or should is it OK to see more inexpensive off the shelf since we are using the vodka to infuse?

Ben November 25, 2015

It’s perfectly ok to use inexpensive stuff because you can filter the liquor and it will end up tasting good, on par with the better vodkas.

Becky January 10, 2019

Another hint, don’t use organic sugar as it will give your limoncello a brownish yellow color and/or be fairly cloudy. Taste is fine but you lose that nice clear yellow color.

Anthony Azzinaro February 9, 2021


I have read through most of your information and did not find anything that addresses my situation.

In 2016 we moved to Arizona and became the proud owners of two Meyer Lemon trees. We average over 150 lemons per tree.

I have been making Limoncello for around ten years. I used a recipe from Sorrento….”best evah” and it worked well.

Last year our computers were lost and I lost my treasured recipe.

I paddled around the internet and found a recipe. When I added the simple syrup it did not go cloudy as it used to.

Have you ever encountered this before? The limoncello had great flavor and balance but even aafter 6 months in the fridge it stayed clear.

Any thoughts??……….It looks funny clear not cloudy. I am assuming it has to do with sugar content??

Thanks in advance.

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