Rae – Libations column: Mellow Yellow
Born on the sunbaked shores of Italy’s Amalfi Coast circa 1900, limoncello is known worldwide as liquid sunshine. Since Colorado boasts more than 300 bright-sky days per year, it’s not such a stretch that Christopher Hall would launch Tall Fello Limoncello here in the Roaring Fork Valley.
A veteran chef, Hall began crafting the fruit-forward liqueur in his kitchen in 2010. Now made in Glenwood Springs, Tall Fello Limoncello has become so popular that last year Hall created Grapefruitcello. Later this month he begins production of Mandarincello, using seasonal Florida Honeybell oranges that are in fact a grapefruit-tangerine hybrid.
While lemons are largely absent from local farm plots, Hall follows a painstaking artisanal process: peeling all citrus by hand.
“By using 190 proof alcohol — Colorado-grown corn vodka from Woody Creek Distillers — and hand peeling, I am able to extract every drop of oil from the peel,” Hall explains. “Commercial peeling machines take a lot of the white pith underneath, which contributes to bitterness. After weeks of soaking in alcohol, the peels snap like dry twigs and are flavorless.”
Proof is in the finished elixir (not to mention the blisters and callouses that decorate Hall’s hands following a shucking session): smooth, vibrant and, indeed, the shade of Technicolor sunlight without any addition of sketchy Yellow 5, no sir!
Tall Fello’s sheer volume of citrus required — 6,580 lemons or 65 cases of grapefruit per 2,500-bottle batch — is impressive for another reason, Hall says: “I create a lot more oil from the peels that floats to the surface. This oil is very sweet, so I use much less sugar.”
The result: lighter, less syrupy, 56-proof liqueurs as refreshing as brilliant bluebird days.
Libations was created by beloved Aspen Times publisher Gunilla Asher, who died June 2, 2014, after a brave battle with cancer. Cheers—to Gunner!