Riserva Speciale is the second half of the Martini & Rossi special vermouth series. Rubino means ruby (red) in Italian. The second product in the series, Ambrato, is a light and dry vermouth. In this special series, the various herbal extracts have matured in oak barrels for at least two months before being blended with red wines from the Piedmont region. Up to three different varieties of wormwood have been used in Riserva. The 75 cl bottle had a discount price of € 15, the normal price for it is usually just over € 20.
The aroma is rich and full-bodied, rather spicy. The taste is spicy, sweet, strong and rich. The sweetness and bitterness are well balanced, and you can’t feel the 18% volume at least at the beginning. The taste is clearly bitter, tannic, fruity and herbal. There are bitterness of wormwood, raspberry like berriness, the spiciness of black pepper and the nuance of quinine. The aftertaste is bitter and slightly peppery, with various bitter nuances remaining on the tongue for a long time.
Riserva Rubino is clearly stronger than Martini & Rossi’s basic Rosso vermouth. After all, the price is almost double, so you can expect a stronger and spicier grip from it. However the taste is not very complex, it’s still very easy to drink like you can expect from this kind of market leader product. The sweet bitter and fairly spicy taste can be considered as concentrated Martini Rosso, where the alcohol content is 3% higher.
Naturally, Speciale Rubino goes well with a variety of cocktails. The taste of the vermouth remains a little stronger than the basic Rosso. Is it worth paying almost double the price of Riserva compared to a regular Rosso? While Riserva Rubino is a nice drink, the double price feels a bit of a waste, especially for cocktail use. Basic Rosso is doing mostly the same thing. When drinking neat as aperative, you may like to add a drop of soda water or ice cube, due to its high alcohol content.