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Luxardo celebrates its 200th anniversary

From 1821 to today: the history of one of the oldest existing distilleries in the world

Luxardo SpA reaches the milestone of its 200 years in 2021. The Paduan company, one of the oldest existing distilleries in the world, stands out among the few European liquor companies still wholly owned by the same family. "Being here to tell our 200 years is a profound emotion", comments Franco Luxardo, senior partner. "It is not always possible to celebrate these anniversaries in person, it happens to me today and I am proud of it: with my thoughts on the past and hope in the new generations".

The company was founded by Girolamo Luxardo in 1821 in Zara, a town on the Dalmatian coast, for centuries part of the republic of Venice. Girolamo, a Genoese patrician dedicated to maritime trade, moved to Zara with his family in 1817 as the consular representative of the kingdom of Sardinia, from which the new kingdom of Italy would later develop. His wife, the Marquise Maria Canevari, dedicated herself to the production of liqueurs at home, in particular Rosolio Maraschino, a specialty produced mainly in convents, obtained by infusing morello cherries (sour cherries locally grown) in alcohol, sweetening and combining the essence of roses to perfume. The high quality of this liqueur gave Girolamo the idea of exploiting the family initiative on an industrial scale, introducing the important process innovation constituted by steam distillation. Thus it was that in 1821 he created a factory for the production of Maraschino. In 1829, after eight years of improvement, he obtained a patent from the Emperor of Austria which reserved him the exclusive production for fifteen years. Even today, Girolamo Luxardo's privileged Maraschino factory name “Excelsior” is present in the company name.

During the nineteenth century the company became the most important distillery in Zara, acquiring with its Maraschino the leadership on the major world markets of the time. The shrewd economic policy of Michelangelo Luxardo, third generation, led in 1913 to the construction of a very modern factory, one of the largest in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The happy expansion that the company experienced in the twenty years following the First World War, however, suffered a heavy halt in 1940 with the outbreak of the Second World War, which led to considerable restrictions on industrial activity and, in November 1943, the almost total destruction of the plant under heavy Anglo-American bombing. During the retreat of the Italian and German troops from Dalmatia (1944), Zara was occupied by Tito's communist partisans and the inhabitants were forced to leave in exile towards the peninsula, but many were killed; among them Pietro Luxardo and his brother Nicolò with his wife Bianca, drowned in the sea of Zara. Confiscated the semi-destroyed factory and dispersed the family, it seemed that, after more than a century, the business of Luxardo was destined to permanently cease.

The surviving brother of the fourth generation, Giorgio Luxardo, had the courage, supported by a far-sighted entrepreneurial vision, to restart the old business from scratch. He chose 10 February 1947, the day of the Paris peace treaty with which his hometown was ceded to Yugoslavia, to open together with the young Nicolò III the factory in Torreglia, in the province of Padua, at the foot of the Euganean hills, thus inaugurating a new chapter in the company's history. The fifth generation made up of Nicolò III, Michele and Franco , with a strong sense of family belonging, was able to bring the company back to the levels of the past, developing a complete range of liqueurs, significantly increasing its presence on the national market and dedicating itself to penetration commercial in various world markets. The early 1980s, thanks to the consolidation of existing markets and the innovations introduced on the management level, were a period of substantial investments in the Torreglia plant. The traditional copper stills, the suggestive aging cellars and the very modern bottling lines are the distinctive elements of a company that combines respect for tradition and technological updating.

Today Luxardo processes its morello cherries every year in the Torreglia plant, directly controlling the entire supply chain, from raw material to bottling, reaching a total production of over 6 million bottles a year. The headquarters is spread over 12,000 covered square meters, has about fifty employees, about ninety commercial collaborators in Italy and over eighty importers worldwide. The company portfolio includes a complete mix of internationally successful brands to offer the consumer a wide range of classic Italian liqueurs. Maraschino and Cherry Sangue Morlacco are the two historical products, to which are added other typical liqueurs of the Italian tradition, Sambuca dei Cesari, Amaretto di Saschira, Limoncello, Aperitif etc., together with a wide selection of aromatic specialties for artisan pastry. For about a decade, a specific production line of high-end jams has also been launched, again for confectionery. Three generations of the family currently work together in the company, committed to ensuring due continuity to the legacy of Girolamo Luxardo.

Photo gallery Luxardo S.p.A Luxardo S.p.A
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