The last thing I ever expected to find in Calabria was a liquorice factory. Who knew that Calabria was the best place to grow liquorice root?
Well… the Amarelli family knew, and quoting from their website ‘the word Glycyrrhiza means sweet root plant and according to the renown sic. British Encyclopedia [I think they mean Encyclopedia Britannica] the best in the world grows in Calabria, particularly in the Ionian Coast, where the microclimate enhances the glycyrrhetinic acid content, the glucoside which gives the typical flavour to the liquorice juice.’ So there you have it.
The Amarelli family has been producing liquorice since 1731 and there are other records that show liquorice has been in production there since the 16th century. Amarelli is one of the few members of Les Henokiens – a global association of companies that have been (and are still) family owned for at least 200 years.
If you like liquorice, you have to visit the Amarelli factory. If you email ahead, you can arrange a free guided tour of the factory and of the museum. They appeared to have mislaid my email so we missed out on the factory tour (10am and 11am) but we were given a very good tour of the museum with lots of tasting and interesting displays of production tools, many of which originated – unexpectedly – from printing presses.
Amarelli’s liquorice comes in a wide range of shapes and sizes. It’s not as sweet as commercially manufactured liquorice and in some cases it’s actually very bitter. From liquorice liqueur chocolates to liquorice toothpaste (apparently very good for gum disease) to liquorice liqueur and liquorice coffee, they’ve pretty much covered the entire gamet of liquorice opportunities, and all in beautiful packaging.