Tuaca, the niche spirit that has become one of the most popular drinks in Brighton, has been relaunched a year after US-based distributor Sazerac purchased it.
The 35% abv brandy-based spirit hails from Italy and was apparently created for Lorenzo the Magnificent, who ruled the Florentine Republic in the 15th century.
Gaetano Tuoni and Giorgio Canepa gave it a proper launch it in the 1930s and got their portmanteau on to give the drink its modern name.
It was discovered by US troops stationed in Livoro during World War II and it began to be imported back to the States after that.
Brit Sammy Berry fell in love with it while working a ski season in Colorado back in 1996, and her boyfriend, Poul Jensen, bet one of her friends a bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne that he could be the first to import a case to the UK.
When he got back to Brighton, Jensen tracked down the family distillery in Tuscany distillery, which was run by Enrico Tuoni, a descendent of founder Gaetano.
His mother was fluent in Italian so he put her on the phone and a couple of cases were flown over for a cost of £466.
Berry and Jensen soon took over the St James Tavern in Brighton and it quickly became their bestselling drink. They wholesaled it to various bars across Brighton and it has gone on to become a cult drink in the seaside city, with celebrity fans including Fat Boy Slim.
The duo served as the UK distributors for years but lucrative nationwide deals with pub groups and off-licence chains never really materialised. Brown-Forman, the US distributor, took over UK distribution some years ago, but never managed to replicate the popularity it enjoys Brighton popularity in other parts of the country.
In March 2016 Brown-Forman sold Southern Comfort to Sazerac, and Tuaca was thrown into the deal. So now the challenge falls to Sazerac – which counts Buffalo Trace and Fireball among its brands – to roll Tuaca out nationwide, and make all of Britain as ‘twackered’ as Brighton.
It believes it is up to the job. Senior marketing director Rebecca Henry said: ‘Tuaca is having its own modern day renaissance. There is a rich story behind this great tasting spirit and we want to bring back the Italian heritage and authenticity that has been lost for so many years.’
The liquid has been tweaked, but it is still infused with citrus and vanilla. Sazerac said the taste ‘delivers notes of buttery caramel, citrus, dried fig, and honey, with a medium body and a long, warm finish’. It believes Tuaca is best served as an ice cold shot, but its versatility also makes it ideal for a range of mixed drinks.