Limoncello, the powerfully-lemon liqueur native to Italy’s Almalfi coast, can taste like window cleaner if it’s not made well. When done right, it’s a ray of sunshine in a bottle. Kyle Akin, owner of Crescendo Organic Spirits in Eugene, does it right. From nature.
“When people try this they are hooked,” says Akin. “People who are familiar with limoncello love ours.”
A cello (sounds like chello), in Italian, means liqueur. Akin’s limoncello, unlike most others, is organic and hand crafted using unbleached natural sugar. Bleached white sugar imparts a chemical aftertaste, flattening the roundness of the lemons and also sharpening the bitterness. Crescendo’s Oregon Tilth-certified organic liqueurs have none of that. The natural sugar imparts a color more like juice than an artificial clear spirit.
“We use real products and hand-zest all these lemons, limes and oranges,” says Akin. “No powders or extracts. It’s real fruit and organic sugar. I’ve never found another Italian ‘cello’ in Oregon that gives us a run for the money.”
Akin crafts his Arancello, or orange liqueur, and Limecello, made with limes, with the same care. At $24.95 a bottle, Akin asks $2 less than his closest competitor, which is not local or organic.
“Cellos” are traditionally served chilled in small glasses as an after-dinner digestive. Staff at the Crescendo tasting room, which is open weekends, can prepare a multitude of cocktails. Try the classic Gimlet made with gin, Limoncello and fresh lime, or a New Fashioned, made with bourbon, Arancello and bitters. Their cocktail of the week is only $8, and patrons can snack on cheese, nuts and delicious desserts by local food artisans.
- pour the liqueurs over ice cream or sponge cake.
- use them as a marinade or create your own cocktail.
- mix any liqueur with sparkling wine or water for a clean and refreshing drink.
Akin and his wife, Cory, committed to Crescendo in 2013, after Kyle’s constant traveling for his job as a civil engineer became too demanding. The company is growing fast. Currently, cello lovers can find the liqueurs in California, Nevada and Colorado. Akin has his sights set next on Indiana and Louisiana, Florida and Hawaii. To find a retail location in Oregon, click here. Then select your liqueur of choice.
Just 5 years young, they’ve already added several competition wins including:
Double Gold – Denver International Spirits Competition
Bronze – Berlin International Spirits Competition
Gold – Sip NW Spirits Competition
Judges Pick – Sip NW Spirits Competition
On the heels of a successful community public offering via Hatch Oregon in 2016, Crescendo is now the producer of a craft organic vodka. The Eugene tasting room is closed, though, until April 2018 while Akins launches a Grants Pass, Oregon outpost called Double Taps, Tap Room and Craft Spirits (Update: opened December 2017). Through the collaboration with the adjoining Heroes American Cafe, Double Taps will serve up 24 craft beers, wine, Crescendo tastings and craft cocktails, and the Heroes menu.