The first gin made in Como

Who said that gin is exclusively British? The truth is, gin is also produced in Italy, for instance on Lake Como, where a local family with a passion for botanicals created a new and unique spirit

  • The first gin made in Como
  • The first gin made in Como
  • The first gin made in Como
  • The first gin made in Como

From the herbs and flowers that grow in the mountains around Lake Como - and the passions of Marco Rivolta and his mother Gianna - a new gin called Rivo Gin has been born in Lombardy with a fresh, balsamic aroma, that is already promising to take the world by storm. We asked Marco to tell us more about this amazing venture.
Why did you choose gin and not a more traditionally Italian spirit?
MR: Gin is commonly perceived to be an English product but it must be said that the first traces of wine distillates with juniper infusions were born in Italy and date back to 1055. They can be found in the Compendium Salernitanum of Salerno's medical school. With Rivo Gin we wanted to create something that was different from Italian tradition but also tied to our region, Lake Como. And I think we succeeded.
What are the secrets of a good gin, and yours in particular?
MR: I think they're the same as any other product: ensure the highest quality throughout the production chain and be authentic. In Rivo we only use the best ingredients, and those which are local are selected and picked by hand from the mountains around Lake Como. We then take advantage of the one of the oldest distilleries in Italy's experience, to transform our botanical ingredients into a spirit. We always like to highlight this authenticity because it differentiates us from the world of more commercial gins.
We know that behind the "foraging" mentioned on the label lies Mrs. Gianna Rivolta's work of picking and selecting ingredients. Is she a botanist by passion or profession?
MR: Foraging is the art of sourcing herbs directly from nature. It is a task that requires patience and dedication and a team effort run by my mum, who is passionate about botany, along with a group of botany professionals and pickers. The fascinating and magical aspect of foraging, and botanical picking in general, is the ability to identify the botanicals. It seems obvious but in nature everything is green! Knowing how to recognise even the most obvious botanicals is not easy. Fortunately foraging is now growing in Italy, a few years behind the Nordic countries. In addition to the idea of picking, it brings in an intrinsic respect for nature and love of discovery. In their dishes, famous chefs are rediscovering many botanicals that were used by our grandmothers in the kitchen or for medical remedies.
Gin is based on juniper however many other herbs (or "botanicals") contribute to the construction of the bouquet. Can you explain the process from picking to distillation?
MR: We wanted RIVO's bouquet of flavours to come from local botanicals, in order to represent our and the product's connection to Lake Como, where we come from. We pick the botanicals 3-4 times a year but the wonderful thing is that it is influenced by many factors that are beyond our control and closely related to natural cycles: the rain, wind, sun and, not least, the timing of the seasons. Once picked, the various botanicals are individually distilled and subsequently put together.
Let's talk about the label. It is really beautiful but also very complex and full of different references. Can you tell us about them? 
MR: For centuries, local women have searched the meadows around Lake Como for herbs and flowers to make medicines and remedies. The history books would call them witches. We consider them pioneers of unique potions. And it is the idea of witches and magic that inspired the packaging. Geometrical lines chase each other, creating abstract figures, which capture two elements of the region in their details: the mountains and the waves of the lake. In addition, the geometric lines hark back to Italian Rationalism whose birthplace was in Como. In general, the idea was to create a design that references Italian craftsmanship whilst still being modern and able to present itself on an international level.
You have already been to London, the world's gin Mecca, with Rivo. How did it go?
MR: I would say very well. We are being distributed in the UK. It is like going into the lion's den, but unlike other equally complex markets London is always open to new, and above all authentic, craft products.
What is the perfect cocktail recipe to best appreciate gin, and Rivo Gin in particular? And what is your favourite recipe? 
MR: RIVO is quite a versatile product. My mum loves a classic gin & tonic. I love a Negroni. Just to level the playing field.

Author : The Slowear Journal


Gin  | LakeComo  | Marco Rivolta  | Rivo Gin  |

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