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Buying Limoncello: Where and How to Find a Great Bottle

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I’ve purchased quite a bit of limoncello over the years. I’ve hand-crafted far more, but I have been on a mission to test out as many commercial limoncello brands as I can get my grubby hands on. So I know a thing or two about buying limoncello and will share that with you lovely readers.  

Where Can I Buy Limoncello?

The widest variety of Limoncello is available from online vendors such as Total Wine and More. However, that only works if they can legally ship to your state which is very often not the case. If you live in an area where they can’t deliver, it’s best to find the largest liquor store in your area and look there.

Aside from price, which we’ll address, there aren’t a lot of concerns here—but there are a few. Read on for my semi-professional limoncello acquisition tips.

Don’t Assume You Can’t Buy Online

The very first thing to check is whether you can buy liquor online. Liquor laws vary from state to state in the US so check the rules in your local area. If you’re able to purchase online, that’s definitely where you’ll get the best prices and also where you’ll find the largest selection by far.  

There are plenty of states where it’s fine to purchase limoncello online and have it delivered to your house. Unlike wine, beer and other perishable items, it’s kind of hard to hurt limoncello in transit unless you break the bottle.  

If You Can’t Buy Online…

The next best thing is to purchase in your local area. Depending on how rural your area is, this may be more or less difficult. If you have a large liquor store in your area, they will usually have at least a small selection of limoncello brands. I’ve found that small to medium stores often carry two to four brands of limoncello, and some super stores might carry a dozen. 

If there’s a certain brand of limoncello you’d like to try, you can always ask the liquor store in your area to acquire it for you and they might be able to do so. The trick will be how to sell the rest of it in a small rural store, so they may insist that you buy a case or something like that. If you’re truly in a rural area, it may also make sense to wait until you travel. Airport liquor stores often have at least some limoncello on hand. 

Freshness Matters

The other big consideration with local limoncello from small stores is how long it’s been sitting there. Many times I’ve seen bottles of limoncello in small stores that literally had dust on them. So how long did they sit there? How long did they sit in the storage room before that? Limoncello lasts a long time but not forever—it loses some of its character over time—so you want a bottle produced in the past year or two. 

FAQs

Q: Can I get (fill in the blank) brand of limoncello in my area?

A: If you can order online, then almost certainly yes. If not, then it may be quite difficult. Your best bet is to try to get your local liquor store to order it for you.

Q: Where can I get the best deal on limoncello?  

A: Online, for sure. Again, if that doesn’t work for you then price shopping probably won’t be an option. You’ll be lucky enough just to find it. What you can sometimes find are “nip” sized bottles of limoncello as samples. This is a great way to try different brands.   

Q: Where can I find the best selection of limoncello?

A: The best selection I’ve seen thus far is from Total Wine and More. That’s a fairly regional chain and operates in my area. I’m sure more research would turn up others if you do some Googling. 

What Is the Price for a Bottle of Limoncello?

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I have probably tried more types of commercially available limoncello than anyone alive that doesn't work for a limoncello producer. Unfortunately there are no official awards for this type of achievement so patting myself on the back will have to do. The benefit to you is that I can definitely tell you what it costs to buy and to make limoncello.  

How Much Does Limoncello Cost?

A bottle of limoncello purchased at a store will cost about $20 USD. The exact average of 17 different brands was $19.25, ranging from a low of $13.99 to a high of $24.99. Making limoncello at home is cheaper if you don't count labor, and much more expensive if you do. 

The quality of store-bought limoncello is highly variable in my opinion so that same twenty dollar bill can provide you a better or worse experience depending on which brand you choose. It's counter-intuitive because limoncello has few ingredients, but the quality of those ingredients matters a lot. See my reviews for more info on this. 

The Price of Store Bought Limoncello

To get an exact and current figure, I pulled prices for all the brands I've reviewed that are still sold plus 10 more that I plan to review in the near future. This is a snapshot of prices from the web as of 1/19/19, but limoncello prices don't fluctuate much over time. All prices are for a standard 750 ml bottle and all prices are in US dollars.

The overall average price for a bottle of limoncello is $19.25 and most of them cluster right around the $20 mark. Fabrizia and Morey are particularly inexpensive, which pulls the average down a bit from $20. Fabrizia is likely cheaper because it is made in the US, whereas most brands are imported from Italy. Morey is made in Spain, so I'm not sure why it's so cheap.

Limoncello Brand

Price per 750ml Bottle

Sogno Di Sorrento

$22.99

Ventura County Limoncello

$23.49

Caravella

$18.99

Fabrizia

$13.99

Luxardo

$21.99

Pallini

$19.99

Petrone

$18.99

Bellini

$16.99

Il Tramonto

$15.99

Knight Gabriello

$16.99

Il Pettorano

$19.99

Villa Massa

$23.99

Morey

$13.99

Landucci

$14.99

Limoncello Di Capri

$21.99

Cristiani

$16.99

Vincenzi Limoncello Di Torino

$24.99

If the appearance of the bottle itself is a factor for you, definitely check out all the different brands. Some have much cooler packaging than others. This isn't really a consideration for me--I only care about quality--but to each his or her own. 

The Cost to Make Your Own Limoncello

If you want to make your own limoncello at home, you are to be highly commended. That's the kind of initiative and self-reliance we see far too little of these days! But seriously, I've got plenty of advice for you on this site. However, the question at hand is about the cost of the DIY method vs. going to the liquor store. 

I've calculated that a bottle of my own DIY limoncello costs about $8.80 to produce. That is lower than any of the prices above, but it's not comparable either. It omits any labor costs, which are substantial. Making limoncello is a labor of love that you pursue because you want it to suit your particular taste, not to save money. It also excludes the cost of the equipment you use. I don't think that's a huge deal because the equipment can be reused for many batches and there's not a lot of it anyway. 

What Should You Do?

It's up to you! I have provided some reviews, and plan to produce many more. This will make it easy to decide when you go to the liquor store. The store I patronize has quite a lot of limoncello variety but that's highly unusual. The average liquor store you see in a strip mall has a very small selection, usually three or fewer varieties. 

At the end of the day, you're drinking limoncello. How bad can it be? Definitely worth one Andrew Jackson if you ask me.

FAQs

Q: Where can I buy (fill in the blank) brand of limoncello?

A: If you live in a state that allows liquor sales by mail, the world is your oyster. BevMo and other large online retailers can usually get you about anything you want. If you don't live in such a state (like me), then you're limited to what you can get in stores near you. There are huge wine and spirit outlets around like Total Wine & More though, which have large selections as well.

Q: Why are prices near me so different from your prices?  

A: My prices above are internet prices, which tend to be very competitive. I have been to many specialty stores and have seen bottles of limoncello selling for $30 or more. This is because they don't move a lot of bottles in those stores. Limoncello doesn't last forever on a shelf so for a couple reasons, those stores aren't a good place to buy.  

Q: Can you send me a sample of your own limoncello to try?

A: No. Like my limoncello, this site is a labor of love that costs me money every month. I won't be trying to scale that deficit by sending out samples...  

How to Drink Limoncello the Right Way

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I’ve been creating, consuming and serving limoncello over a decade, and I’ve even visited Italy to see how the locals serve limoncello (that wasn’t the ONLY reason for my visit, but still). So I can give you a pretty definitive answer on how best to serve and drink limoncello. 

How to Drink/Serve Limoncello

Limoncello is properly served straight and ice-cold into a shot glass. Limoncello served at freezing temperatures is more viscous (syrup-y) than at room temperature. Because it warms quickly, it’s best to serve it in small portions such as a shot glass. Below are some other key tips.

That said, you probably want to appear suave and worldly to you friends, and that’s why you’re searching for this info. No judgment—I like to appear suave and worldly myself. So those guidelines above are the basics, but let’s expand a bit to kick it up a notch and really impress your pals.

Choose the Right Bottle

I’ll be the first to admit that most of my early limoncello experiments were conducted with recycled liquor bottles and swing cap bottles I bought on the cheap. In fact, there’s plenty of photographic evidence of this on the site so I wouldn’t get far denying it. That’s fine for experimentation. But when it comes time to pour for your friends, you want it to be from a proper bottle. 

If you bought your limoncello at the store, you pretty much have this whipped. Most store-bought bottles are fairly attractive and many have the frosted appearance that I prefer. But if you are making your own limoncello at home, you need to seek out some nice bottles of the same sort.

Choose the Right Glass

There are a number of sets of limoncello glasses that are purpose built for impressing your friends with your Italian heritage or just your liqueur-savviness. If you’re deep in the weeds like I am, that’s a perfectly acceptable route to choose.

For most folks, an elegant shot glass will also do the trick. I prefer taller shot glasses that are crystal clear. They look elegant and allow you to appreciate the color of the limoncello, which is one of the factors to appreciate in this liqueur. It’s a lovely yellow color.  

Pour Quickly and Often

Lastly, the pour itself. Take the bottle directly from the freezer to pour, don’t leave it out on the counter. The character of limoncello is heavily affected by its temperature and you need it to be freezing. I like to pour slowly and from a height that appears unsafe. It’s just cooler that way. 

And BOOM, you have served the perfect glass of limoncello. Cheers!

FAQs

Q: Can you drink limoncello straight?

A: Yes. Drinking it straight (and straight from the freezer) is by far the most common and preferred way to consume limoncello. Limoncello is considered a digestif (after-dinner drink), thought to aid digestion. It is much sweeter and generally lower in alcohol content than hard alcohols like vodka or whiskey.

Q: Can you drink limoncello on the rocks (with ice)?  

A: You can do this—I have done it many times—but there are some caveats. I sometimes drink limoncello on the rocks to keep it ice cold for longer once it exits the freezer. However, it usually binds the ice to the glass and if you wait too long it will of course start to dilute your carefully balanced limoncello. If you must, a better solution is to use whiskey rocks which tend to have neither of those problems.  

Q: Can you serve limoncello in a beer mug?

A: No. That is absolutely forbidden for a number of reasons. I can’t even believe you asked.  

What Is the Alcohol Content of Limoncello?

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With over a decade of experience making limoncello at home, I’ve spent a lot of time tinkering with the alcohol percentage (proof) of limoncello. I’ve also reviewed many of the commercial limoncello brands, so this is a pretty easy one to answer.

What Is the Alcohol Content of Limoncello?

The alcohol content of most commercially available brands of limoncello is between 24% to 32% (48-64 proof). Most brands tend to land in the high 20% range, around 27%-29% alcohol by volume.

Longer Answer...

That’s what the major brands do, but the beauty of making your own limoncello is that you can make it your own, and customizing the alcohol percentage is a big part of that. Read on to see what you can do to personalize the flavor of limoncello for your particular palette.

Avoiding Too Much Sweetness

In my experience, the single largest concern that most people have is drinking or making limoncello that is too sweet. Limoncello is sweet by nature, that’s also part of the appeal. But it often has a thicker consistency and can strike people as sickly sweet at the lower range of alcohol content.

For this reason, when people start customizing the alcohol percentage I advise folks to shoot for 30% (60 proof) as a starting point. The standard homemade limoncello recipe that I promote on this site is even higher than that (~37%) and it is a widely beloved recipe…if I do say so myself. I believe the reason for this is that most adult palettes tend to appreciate flavors rather than sweetness alone. Also, people who enjoy cocktails also tend to appreciate bitterness as a flavor component.

What Is YOUR Use Case?

Sipping an ice-cold glass of limoncello straight from the freezer—though completely awesome—is only one use case for limoncello. You can cook with it, make desserts, make cocktails, etc. For some other use cases it might make sense to use a sweeter limoncello because the sugar will survive any cooking while most of the alcohol will evaporate.

However, that ice-cold freezer shot is by far the most common case, so how can we alter it to be exactly what you want? You need to conduct an experiment that will require making some limoncello at home. Different brands of limoncello that you buy at the store will have different characteristics—sometimes remarkably so. That means you can’t just buy 2 different brands with different alcohol levels and see which one you prefer. I mean, you CAN do that, but that’s not a clean test at all.

What you’d need to do is create a batch of limoncello at home, split the infusion into 2 half batches, and then add different amounts of simple syrup to achieve different alcohol percentages in the final limoncello product.

How Do I Do That?

That’s an excellent question, I’m glad you asked! Because I get this question frequently I’ve created a couple of calculators on the site to help you determine the proportions of limoncello required to achieve a specified alcohol content. There is a simple version that is just a dilution calculator, then a more sophisticated one that helps you dial in the sweetness by altering the simple syrup. You can find them both here.

FAQs

Q: I made a batch that has way too much alcohol in it, can I dilute it after the fact?
A: Sure, just add more simple syrup of the same proportions you originally used. This will make it sweeter of course, but a sweeter and milder product is what you’re shooting for in this case.

Q: I made a batch that is way too sweet, can I fix it?
A: You can use the more sophisticated calculator on my site to attempt to further dilute it, but in my experience this rarely ends well. It’s harder to dilute the sugar after the fact without making it insipid.

Q: Does the type of alcohol you use matter?
A: It doesn’t matter to the alcohol content beyond it’s proof, but it matters to the flavor in my opinion. I prefer to use grain alcohol that has been filtered as opposed to vodka and other liquors that carry more of their own flavor.

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