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bolognium

New Formula Campari

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Does anyone know if the new formula Campari strictly an export item, or is the recipe change across the board. I am not at all impressed with the watery version made with artificial ingredients. Apparently, Campari bent over to the vegetarian taliban that not only put it on it's "not vegeterian" list, but also threatened to start a "Campari=bug juice" campaign due to its use of cochineal(sp?) beetles (also used in makeup etc...) that gave Campari it's distinct red hue. The flavor is MUCH MORE BLAND, and it is not nearly as thick, almost watery now. And it is much more transparent as well. Count Negroni is rolling in his grave...

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Seems like an attempt to dumb it down, yeah. Not pleased :sad:

Around here one can still find the old formula if one looks a bit, especially in liters.


Edited by thirtyoneknots (log)

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TongoRad   

That's very distressing- I'll have to go looking for the old version asap.

I generally like to enjoy it on the rocks, so I'm sure that the difference will be quite noticible in that context. Hopefully it is less so when mixed with soda.

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TAPrice   

This is the worst news I've heard in a while.

Has anyone done a side-by-side comparison of the old and new formulas?

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jmfangio   

Yikes! I just ran to my liquor cabinet to check the bottle I picked up a few weeks ago, and there were the words I was dreading: artificially colored. I'm going on a hunt for the real bug juice.

Update: Stopped by a local spirits shop this afternoon and they only had the new formula on the shelves, but I was able to dig out a couple minis of the old school. I'm fighting a bit of a cold, so my palate may not be at its sharpest, but I'll try a side by side comparison as soon as I can.


Edited by jmfangio (log)

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eas   

Aside from switching from cochineal to FD&C Red #5, what other differences can you identify?

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johnder   

It is my impression it has been changed since last summer.

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docsconz   
Yikes!  I just ran to my liquor cabinet to check the bottle I picked up a few weeks ago, and there were the words I was dreading:  artificially colored.  I'm going on a hunt for the real bug juice.

Unless the cochineal dye was integral component of the flavor of the Campari, the drink would have been artificially colored by its use too. I wonder if they'll come out with a Campari Classic? :wink:

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so how can one tell which version the bottle is ? I need to go stock up.

The label on the back will say 'CONTAINS CARMINE' on the old bottles and will say something regarding the use of artificial color on the new ones. If I'm not mistaken, the bottle shape may be very subtly different as well.

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Well, there's my weekend project, visiting lousy liquor stores looking for dusty bottles of Campari.

Here's what I don't understand: if the buggers are only for color, then why the different (not as good) flavor? What's that all about?

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It's hard for me to imagine a company tinkering with a formula and changing only one thing. If the cochineal was a cost issue, I imagine other ingredients were as well, and were also altered. Makes me wonder if this is the first time they've done this.

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jmfangio   

I just did a quick side by side taste test of the old school bug juice and the new formula. I'm fighting a little bit of a cold so my palate isn't at 100%, but I thought that I detected an unwelcome, slightly metallic aftertaste in the latter. I'll try this again when I'm back to normal, but I'd love to hear some opinions from other people who have both formulas on hand.

However, I made a Negroni the other night with the new formula (my first drink with that bottle), and I didn't think that it was quite up to snuff, but at the time I thought that maybe my bottle of vermouth was a touch past its prime. Now, I'm not quite so sure.


Edited by jmfangio (log)

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Best way to handle this would be a blind tasting; I can't imagine that any of us here wouldn't be biased against the new formula if we knew what we were drinking.

Edit to finish thought.


Edited by thirtyoneknots (log)

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TAPrice   

Apparently I don't even know what I'm missing. I checked the shelf, and I've been happily drinking the bug free version for months. Maybe I just have no taste.

Any idea why the change was made? Was this really pressure from vegetarians or a cost issue?

Honestly, I'd prefer to be drinking bug juice.

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Barworkz   

What is the proof over in the US for Campari? Here in Germany we get it 50 proof but I have seen bottles on the internet with 62 proof also. Now I'm wondering if I always got it 50proof or if they used to sell it with the higher proof...I just cannot remember no matter how hard I try! Any suggestions?

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What is the proof over in the US for Campari? Here in Germany we get it 50 proof but I have seen bottles on the internet with 62 proof also. Now I'm wondering if I always got it 50proof or if they used to sell it with the higher proof...I just cannot remember no matter how hard I try! Any suggestions?

My (old) bottle claims 24% alcohol (48 proof).

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Both old and new here are 48 proof (24%).

I did a series of side-by-side blind taste tests today. It was a strange experience, as I kept wanting to have my very strong initial impressions proven wrong. I tried everything: tiny sips vs. bigger ones, rinsing with water, nibbling on bread. Each time, I could clearly identify the one or the other immediately, and the news is not good. I'll admit that my notes are probably hyperbolic, but they're also describing a distinction that's as clear as a bell.

While I could detect no difference in the color of the two, the new Campari has a radically different flavor than the old. The new starts and ends with a strong bitter note that feels harsh in my mouth; the bitterness doesn't linger or shift but shoots right up the top of my palate and then fades off your tongue leaving little in its wake. There are some other notes in there, but they're pretty muddy. It's utterly one-dimensional.

The old Campari has three distinct layers. It starts with sweet citrus, which gives way slowly to its increasing herbal spine, from which the bitterness rises gently but with force to end. The bitterness has a round quality that the new Campari utterly lacks: slowly enveloping, steamy warmth compared to a bucket of hot water over the head.

I had this response over and over again. It was a depressing experience, let me tell you.

I immediately drove to three area liquor stores and bought two bottles of the old stuff as soon as I found it at the third. The owner has guaranteed that there are a few out back, too.

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weinoo   

This freakin' sucks.

Is there a chance that they'll offer both types - wouldn't that make some sense?

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This freakin' sucks. 

Is there a chance that they'll offer both types - wouldn't that make some sense?

Not from a production standpoint. In fact I'd bet the company officially denies that the new tastes any different from the old, sort of how Coca-Cola claims that there's no difference between sweetening with cane sugar vs. HFCS, taste-wise.

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weinoo   
This freakin' sucks. 

Is there a chance that they'll offer both types - wouldn't that make some sense?

Not from a production standpoint. In fact I'd bet the company officially denies that the new tastes any different from the old, sort of how Coca-Cola claims that there's no difference between sweetening with cane sugar vs. HFCS, taste-wise.

Well, it's pretty obvious from Chis' limited blind-tasting that there is a rather obvious taste difference...perhaps a boycott of the new stuff is in order. What do they make Aperol with, and might it suffer the same fate?

Jeez, Campari is absolutely one of my favorite things to drink and to mix with. To kowtow to the few and affect the many, is not, imho, a great way to do business nor a way to show appreciation for all your customer base.

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Well, it's pretty obvious from Chis' limited blind-tasting that there is a rather obvious taste difference...perhaps a boycott of the new stuff is in order.  What do they make Aperol with, and might it suffer the same fate?

I'd hope that a few other people would do this, in part bc my blind, objective comparison confirmed my very subjective expectations. And, FWIW, my bottle of Aperol lists artificial colors on it.

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slkinsey   

All we know for sure is that Campari no longer uses carmine as a coloring agent, yes? We are not aware that any other change has been made to Campari? Considering the huge worldwide popularity of Campari and the fact that Italian's aren't exactly eager to change the formulae of their amari, I have my doubts as to whether there has been a substantive change in the formula for Campari.

As far as I am aware, carmine does not have a flavor.

So what we know is that, under relatively unscientifically controlled side-by-side tasting, recently-imported Campari seems to have a different flavor from multiple-years-old Campari. There could be any number of reasons for this observation that are entirely unrelated to a change in formula.

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I'm not sure how we know that "Italians" aren't eager to change their amari formulae -- after all, the Gruppo Campari folks just changed one ingredient that's significant enough for us to talk about it here -- but the more I snoop around the more the change seems connected not only to the vegan/vegetarian issue but to possible concerns about carmine as an allergen. Click here for a 2006 AP article on the FDA looking into the matter, which makes me wonder whether or not we Yanks are drinking a product created for the litigation-heavy US market. Anyone outside of the states got a bottle nearby?

Meanwhile, I hope that a few others will try out the relatively unscientifically controlled side-by-side tasting, because if they confirm the difference, the older carmine-based Campari is worth finding and hoarding.

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slkinsey   

If you think that an Italian amaro maker would cavalierly change the 140 year old formula of its product, it suggests that you're not sufficiently familiar with Italian culture. Changing the formula of Campari would create a blowback that would make the reaction to New Coke look like a few disgruntled fanatics. It took decades and decades for Southern Italians to adopt modern winemaking techniques, despite the fact that it was widely understood that certain traditional practices were responsible for an inferior product with low value. In contrast, Campari is the established worldwide leader in this category, with increasing sales.

Exchanging one flavorless chemical coloring agent that happens to be derived from beetles and is a known allergen to some people for a manufactured flavorless chemical coloring agent is hardly the same as "meaningfully changing the formula of Campari." Considering that Campari, as it was already formulated, was hugely popular and succesful (and growing in popularity), the fact that there are numerous examples of herbal liqueurs and aromatized wines with formulae unchanged over centuries, and the fact that Campari and other amari derive a gret deal of their appeal and marketing through the maintenance of tradition, I have very hard time believing that Campari changed anything in their formula at all other than the substitution of artificial red coloring for natural carmine. If Campari were to make such a change, I have an equally hard time believing that (a) Campari would try to sneak this change under the table rather than announcing the "new Campari for the new millennium" (a la New Coke) and, (b) there wouldn't be huge public outcry in Italy or at least that the media would take note. On the other hand, the Campari in Italy is a lot "fresher" than the Campari in the US (more on this below).

What I am suggesting is that if there truly is a notable difference between bottles of "natural carmine" Campari and botles of "artificial coloring" Campari sourced in America, and if that difference holds up in blind tasting, it's entirely possible (and indeed I assume this is the case) that a bottle of "old formula" Campari which was imported in 2000 and spent eight years sitting in a warehouse, basement and in the sun on the liquor store's shelves, has undergone certain changes. Therefore what differences may exist would not be attributable to the change in coloring agent or larger change in formula, but rather due to the effects of age. There is simply no telling how old a bottle of "old formula" Campari might be, especially depending on where it was bought. Considering that I am aware of liquor stores in Manhattan that still have bottles of Malacca Gin on the shelves, it doesn't strike me as unlikely that a bottle of "old Campari" purchased in Providence might have been bottled 8-10 years ago.

ETA: The Gruppo Campari page for Campari says: "Campari is a contemporary classic. The recipe, which has remained unchanged, originated in Novara in 1860 and is the base for some of the most famous cocktails around the world." It seems fairly clear that they don't consider the coloring agent "part of the formula."


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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