11 Best Limoncello Brands, Ranked

Limoncello is an aromatic Italian liqueur crafted from Sorrento lemons (Femminello St. Teresa lemons or Sfusato lemons) and Amalfi lemons (via SorrentoInfo), native to the Campanian coast in Southwest Italy. Lemon groves create a striking landscape stretching from Naples south to the Amalfi Coast along the Sorrentine peninsula to Salerno. Sunny and fragrant, lemons provide the tangy essence that transforms into limoncello. Like an elixir of the sun and sea, sipping limoncello transports you to the Italian seaside.

Sorrento lemons are large with acidic juice and densely flavored thick skins. Amalfi lemons are slightly less acidic and flavorful. Both unique lemons are used to produce limoncello. Classic limoncello is crafted from generous quantities of fresh lemon zest steeped in grain or grape spirit until the essential oils are released, imparting a heady lemon flavor and canary hue, says Rick Steves' Europe. The infusion is tempered with simple syrup until the perfect flavor is attained. Lemon essential oils suspended in the spirit and water base rather than completely dissolving, leading to a slightly turbid opaque appearance, indicates Science in School.

Limoncello isn't an ancient drink, but it is a popular one. Gioia Luisa reports that limoncello is officially Italy's second favorite liqueur. Limoncello is served chilled in cordial glasses as a digestive after meals, and it is frequently used in desserts and confections, per Taste Atlas. There are dozens of limoncello brands, but only a few are exceptional. Read on to find out which one is best.

11. Tosolini Liquore al Limone ed Erbe Amari

Bepi Tosolini is best known for its world-class grappa. Bepi, born in 1918, established his distillery in the Friuli region of northeastern Italy. His focus was to craft the best spirits in Italy and went on to found the largest grappa cellar in Italy. Bepi traveled the country exploring spirits and traditions from each region, incorporating some concepts, flavors, and ingredients throughout the years. Tosolini is now under the purview of Bepi's grandchildren, but the quality and authenticity remain.

Aside from grappa, Tosolini produces a range of spirits called Spezieria, which means apothecary in Italian. Recipes include licorice, coffee, strawberry, blueberry, herbal, almond, and lemon-infused blends. Tosolini's Liquore al Limone ed Erbe Amari is a unique representation of limoncello. Not technically an Amalfi or Sorrento liqueur, Limone Amaro is crafted in the north, with sourced fruit and grappa as the base spirit. Limone Amaro is more pungent and fuller in body than classic limoncello, lacking the smooth texture we look for in the best.

10. Distilleria Rossi d'Aisago Volare Limoncello

Founded in 1868, by the young Italian chemist Giovan Battista Rossi, Distilleria Rossi d'Aisago is a prolific distillates, spirits, and liqueur producer crafting serious grappa, sambuca, amaretto, and amaro, sought out by collectors and mixologists across the world. Distilleria Rossi d'Aisago is known for packing a punch of flavor into each bottle of its specialty spirits and liqueurs. Rossi launched its newest line in 2006: The Volare cocktail line includes a range of herbal and fruit brandies and liqueurs such as watermelon, coconut, lychee, melon, green apple, berry, cherry, kiwi, and lemon, of course.

Volare explains that lemons are packed with vitamin C, essential to maintaining a healthy body. During maceration, lemon peels release essential oils, flavinoids, and pigment, it is likely vitamin c is released into the base spirit as well. Good and good for you. Volare Limoncello is densely colored and fragrant with a balanced sweetness. The Rossi brand makes so many liqueur flavors that its limoncello doesn't stand out from the crowd as much as others do.

9. Caravella Limoncello

Sazerac is one of the oldest liquor brands still in existence. The company first produced cognac in France more than 400 years ago. Famous for its New Orleans coffee house and liquor distributor, launched in the early 1800s in the city, Sazerac is legendary for its holdings in world-class spirits brands including its whisky-think Buffalo Trace Whiskey and rye brands. It also owns one of the world's best limoncello brands. Sazerac, the company claims "It is the world's original Limoncello." With its fresh and juicy flavors and lemon aromatics, Sazerac Caravella limoncello is prized for its classic style.

Paolo Sperone crafted his original Caravella limoncello infusion using a family recipe that dates back to 1898. Sperone sourced his lemons from the Amalfi Coast, and the Sazerac company adheres to his technique and recipe, using the best fruit and ingredients available. No longer family-owned, Caravella loses points for its mass appeal. Caravella is a bit bland in the sphere of limoncello competitors. Caravella also produces a lush and fruity orangecello, made from the peels of Sicilian oranges. As with limoncello, the recipe for orangecello includes macerating the orange peels in alcohol before straining and adding simple syrup and orange juice to balance the flavors and bitterness orange peels can impart.

8. Lucky 7 Sorrento Limoncello

Lucky 7 owns vineyards and a winery in central Italy and is the and proud owner of Sorrento Limoncello. Lucky 7 is a small, artisanal, family-owned limoncello producer located in the heart of Sorrento. For 20 years, the family has dedicated their lives to crafting the best quality artisanal limoncello from organic and locally sourced lemons. Each step of the production process is completed by hand with great attention to detail.

First, Lucky 7 selects the best Syrentum and Femminello IGP (identificazione geografica protetta) lemons from Capri, Massa Lubrense, Vico Equense, and Piano di Sorrento. The lemon peels are macerated for three days in neutral spirits before being blended with just enough refined sugar and water to produce a signature Sorrentoan recipe that is zesty, fresh, and boldly aromatic. While the quality is there with Sorrento Limoncello, it isn't widely available, lowering its ranking. Lucky 7 partners with Ristorante Sorrento, a local icon, to serve as its tasting room. Stop by for a meal of delicious local cuisine finishing it off with Sorrento Limoncello, the perfect digestivo.

7. Limoncello Villa Massa di Sorrento

Villa Massa is one of the original limoncello brands still available today. Family-owned and operated, Villa Massa is devoted to a family recipe first crafted in 1890. With an eye on tradition, Villa Massa uses ovale di Sorrento lemons named for their oval shape. Fragrant and acidic, the Sorrento lemon has been granted PGI (protected geographical indication) certification, meaning that the fruit is grown in specific sites under certain conditions ensuring authenticity and quality.

Brothers Sergio and Stefano Massa continue to produce their limoncello according to the methods and standards set in the 19th century, but have their eyes firmly on the future. In 1991, Villa Massa became the first limoncello to be exported from Italy and it is now available in 40 countries across the globe. Not a serious limoncello, Villa Massa leans on the sweeter side making it a great choice for first-time sippers.

6. Limoncello di Capri

Limoncello di Capri is a sweet limoncello style crafted exclusively from juicy and fragrant PGI Ovale di Sorrento lemons. Matron of the Mariantonia hotel on the Isle of Capri, Vicenza Canale created her signature limoncello recipe early in the 20th century as a treat for her guests. She infused thin strips of Sorrento lemon peel in a neutral alcohol and added just enough sugar and water to create the perfect blend. The result was a sunny hued drink with exceptional flavors and phenolics. Canale's family established Limoncello di Capri S.r.l., in 1988 and patented the name limoncello. Today, they honor Canale by using her original recipe.

Limoncello di Capri sources its premium lemons from its own giardini (gardens) lemon groves in Sorrento and Capri. The lemon trees are trained on traditional chestnut wood pagliarelle (pergolas) to expose the lemons to sunlight ensuring even ripening and fully developed prized lemon flavors and acidity. Limoncello di Capri is a bit too sweet, overshadowing the bright acidity Sorrento lemons impart.

5. Russo Limoncello di Sicilia

Sicily is a sun-soaked island just off of the Calabrian coast, the toe-tip of the boot, in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is a cultural and culinary melting pot due to its history as an outpost for Greeks, Phoenicians, Africans, Ottomans, Vandals, Arabs, Romans, and Normans, throughout its long and storied history (via Eyewitness Italy). Sicily has balmy Mediterranean weather punctuated by frequent droughts and the occasional rumblings of volcanic Mt. Etna. The island has incredibly rich and fertile volcanic soils perfect for growing grapevines, nut and fruit trees. The lemons from Sicily are rich in flavinoids and color, says TasteAtlas, with moderate acidity.

F.lli Russo Distillery in Santa Venerina in the province of Catania uses organically grown limone dell'Etna in crafting its award-winning version of limoncello di Sicilia. Each lemon is hand-harvested and carefully hand-peeled to ensure no white pith is included in the maceration vat resulting in an intensely colored and flavored liqueur with hints of sweetness, making it a great choice for cocktails. Russo also produces a broad range of premium and artisanal distillates, spirits, and liqueurs including floral, nut, fruit, and herbal blends. Rosso Cremoncelli di Sicilia blends sweet cream into its signature fruit and nut liqueurs. The Cremoncelli di Sicilia Limone packs all the lemony flavor of limoncello with a creamy mouthfeel rather than the tangy bite we look for in a top limoncello.

4. Sorrento Gioia Luisa Limoncello

In 1946, Felice and Laura Maresca established a business in Sorrento selling fresh local fruit and nuts. Eventually, the couple was selling their wares to clients across Italy and Europe and earned a reputation for quality. In 1986, their son, Francesco Saverio, took the reins of the company christening it Gioia Lusia SRL. Saverio. He set out to transform the company by producing and selling Sorrento's local drink, limoncello, to his clients across the continent. His recipe for success was to increase the ratio of lemon peel to alcohol, often using 10 times the average amount. Sorrento Gioia Luisa Limoncello is intensely perfumed, highly aromatic, and naturally juicy.

Gioia Luisa SRL produces exceptional Limoncello and Limoncello Crème from lemons grown in its private IGP orchards. Gioia Luisa never includes artificial ingredients. The former is sharp, zesty, and puckeringly tangy, while the latter is creamy with a fragrant sugared lemon flavor. Widely available, Gioia Luisa produces 275,000 cases of limoncello annually and exports it across the globe. Gioia Luisa produces a beautiful limoncello but loses its artisanal pizzazz with its abundant production. Still, it is a great limoncello for drizzling on ice cream or blending in sparkling wine.

3. Strega Giuseppe Alberti di Sorrento Limoncello

Sipping Strega is sipping like "sipping a ray of sunshine," says Luigi Alberti.

In 1832, Luigi Alberti and his partner opened a specialty food, wine, and spirits store in Trieste, located in Italy's farthest eastern corner. Due to its advantageous location in the bustling port city, the business quickly grew to enormous success. By 1898, Luigi's descendants struck out on their own, establishing Luigi Alberti, a purveyor of fine and hard-to-find goods to royal, diplomatic, and aristocratic establishments around the world. Focused on luxury and specialty products, Luigi Alberti found enduring success.

One of its most successful products is its Strega line of liqueurs and cordials. Founded in passion, quality, and more than 150 years of history; Strega liqueurs are a benchmark for tradition. Alberti's classicly crafted Strga Giuseppe Alberti di Sorrento Limoncello is a highly refined classic limoncello crafted from the best selection of Sorrento hand-harvested lemons. This is a robust, aromatic, and slightly bitter limoncello, crafted with spirits drinkers in mind, yet it lacks the requisite sweetness we've come to expect.

2. Pallini Limoncello

A young Abruzzian named Nicola Pallini married Concetta Egidi in 1875. The pair established a specialty market called Antica Casa Pallini, dealing in sundries, fine fabrics, groceries, apothecary, wine, and other goods. Nicola crafted a line of liqueurs derived from his familial recipes. Soon, the family and business expanded. Nicola and Concetta's sons, Virgilio and Fidelfo, joined the business with each son concentrating on separate divisions. Virgilio helmed the beverage production and distribution business. On the heels of rapid success, Virgilio convinced his father to move the business from central Italy to Rome. Eventually, Nicola's grandchildren took the reins and took the business to the global stage by introducing Sambuca Romana and Pallini Limoncello, both based on regional recipes. Now, Pallini is in its 147th year and fifth-generation Pallini's continue to refine and expand its reach and presence in the global spirits and liqueur realm.

Pallini has been producing fruit-infused spirits in Rome since the beginning in 1875, setting a benchmark for fruit-infused and anise-flavored liqueurs. Pallini limoncello is based on a family recipe and relies on organic Costa d'Amalfi PGI lemons for its exquisite, zesty lemon flavor.

This particular type of lemon has an edible peel and lower acidity than most lemons, resulting in a balanced, slightly sweet sipping limoncello that pleases most palates and situations.

1. Luxardo Limoncello

Founded in 1821 by Girolamo Luxardo, Luxardo is the ultimate Italian luxury gastronomy company. Luxardo is still family-owned. The company prides itself in offering exceptional specialty foods and beverages in its prestigious range of goods. Luxardo is one of the oldest European spirits and liqueur brands and adheres to techniques and traditions established by its founder. Luxardo simply means luxury. Luxardo is famous for its 110% natural plump and juicy Maraschino cherries, reportedly the first maraschino cherry of its kind. The brand produces sumptuous spirits and liqueurs such as maraschino cherry liqueur, gin, sambuca, triple sec, antico, and bitters, using the freshest and best quality ingredients it can find. Mixologists and chefs look to Luxardo to elevate their cocktails. Pastry chefs prize Luxardo flavorings, distillates, and infusions for their art-worthy confections.

It is no surprise that Luxardo limoncello tops the list when it comes to quality. Crafted from flawless Amalfi and Sorrento lemons, Luxardo adds juicy pulp to the macerating lemon peels, giving its limoncello an extra edge of aromatics, flavor, and a rich golden color. Luxardo limoncello dates back to 1905, when the family first advertised the recipe, and still followed today. It is a gorgeous, zesty, pungent liqueur tempered with just a hint of sweetness, nearing limoncello-sipping perfection. Luxardo limoncello is exactly what for true limoncello connoisseurs crave.