Back in the summer of 2013 I was spending a lot of my free time walking in the woods of Pragelato. One day whilst relaxing, I was looking at all the larch trees, when suddenly a forgotten memory come to my mind. I remembered as a small child, at the end of long horse riding treks on French bridle paths having big barbecues. The adults used to pick larch branches to suck on the juice: “it refreshes your mouth and helps digestion” they used to say to me.
That same day I tried to make an infusion from the extract of the trees made from elaborate sap and resins.
During the following autumn, after a get together with friends at our family chalet (now Digestivo LAR-ICE headquarters) gathered in front of the fireplace as usual, some of my close friends started moaning about the need of an after-dinner drink. Down in the basement of the chalet, with its high stone vaults and where the temperature remains constant, was the larch infusion which had been resting and sitting for months – just like today, it was the perfect occasion to sample it. The tasting left us dumbfounded: The taste and smell was of authentic wood, natural, fresh, balsamic and naturally digestive.
In the summer of 2014, I wanted to improve the recipe, so I prepared different samples by varying the quantities of extract, alcohol and sugar.
In 2015, encouraged by friends and helped by highly skilled artisans and sommeliers we balanced the taste and launched the first production of only 493.5 litres totalling 987 bottles, all were numbered by hand.
The complex sap and resin are a very scarce raw materials, sometimes from one tree you get just enough juice to make just one bottle and at other times from an entire woodland you are unable to extract a drop.
Digestivo LAR-ICE is so deeply linked with trees that I decided to hand wrap each bottle with a thin sheet of larch wood that turns reddish after a period of time, a typical characteristic of the larch wood. Each sheet has a unique flame pattern which makes each bottle an individual piece of art. In addition to this the corks are made of larch wood. The bottle therefore is a natural extension of the tree and the guardian of its nectar.
The brand was researched in New York by an artist who is specialised in designing brands inspired by nature. Our designer managed to stay true to the tree by expressing it through an image of gold-green bouquets of larch branches that are etched into the wood. The colours used naturally remind us of the essence of the digestive. The word LAR-ICE is also embedded into the wood. Lastly each bottle in numbered by hand.
The logo and the design of the bottle are registered trademarks under Italian Law.
Like trees have strong roots in the soil our bottles show the same connection with its terrain as they are wrapped with a map of the area n. 105 from Central Geographic Institute. On the map, are highlighted the boundaries of the woodlands where the nectar is collected and also the boundaries of National Park of Val Troncea. These locations underline and confirm the natural characteristics of our digestive drink.
Digestivo LAR-ICE presented a new recipe; both its colour and taste are more intense.
Our trees were generous this year and allowed us to extract about three times more nectar compared to 2015, however instead of just triplicating the production we decided to concentrate all the extract into 801 bottles (2015 production was 987 bottles) this is because we wanted to give our digestive a unique taste, deeply balsamic and enduring.
We also experimented, with success, an innovative infusion technique that allowed us to blend the nectar and the alcohol in a more balanced way so that the final taste is more delicate and the sharp taste of alcohol had been eliminated.
In order to obtain the maximum natural taste, the percentage of sugar within the recipe was lowered.
Research for a more natural and lasting taste followed this year with some updates to the brand. The pyrography on the wooden sheets were strengthen, we have now obtained a more tactile sensation which has resulted in more vivid and intense colours.
We have also added the bouquet of larch branches to the printed logo on the map and on the tag hanging from the neck of the bottle.
We are pleased to announce that this year’s recipe is better than ever; the definitive one. It reflects the original taste of the larch wood, that of trekking on horseback.
This exciting result was achieved thanks to the contributions of both the Swiss and Austrian farm owners who visited us last spring to demonstrate and explain the complicated art of extracting essential oils; high quality oils used in those countries by the pharmaceutical and food industries:
- Compared to previous years, the wood processing was postponed for a month so as to collect the lymph and resin in their most mature state.
- The extraction was carried out at dawn so as to avoid the afternoon sun which would evaporate it’s nutrients.
- Larch trees were selected at various altitudes to obtain complete extractions of all the nutritional properties that the plants receive from different soil types.
- Finally, we worked on the larches that were both south and north facing, providing us different flavours that have united flawlessly to create it’s perfume and taste.
In addition to the wonderful new recipe the packaging has also been refined: there’s a brighter logo than the existing black one of LAR-ICE, a description of the product within every package and the wooden covering that envelops each bottle are carefully checked one by one to choose “graining” of unique beauty.
The website has also been updated with photographs and graphics. In particular, our ‘home page’ with its slideshow illustrating a bottle which was shot by one of the best Italian photographers specialising in food still life.
After years of research and analyses carried out by the Department of Molecular Biotechnology and Health Sciences at the University of Turin, Chemistry Section. They confirm that there is the presence of eupeptic within our digestive LAR-ICE, with it’s amazing digestive properties provided by mother nature within all Larch trees. It is therefore no coincidence that our product was baptised “digestive” and not just liqueur or bitter, so now there is without doubt, certainty about our intuition that was special.
Last but not least, this year we will launch a platform for online direct marketing and this will then open the doors to customers of where we are based in the hamlet of Traverses in Pragelato. Our log cabin has been completely restored as a tavern where our LAR-ICE digestive is produced and at the entrance we have created a new sales outlet.
Photos of our showroom.
We are very pleased to confirm that last year’s recipe was, thanks to the wonderful feedback we received from our clients, the best ever: a perfect blend of four different types of essential oils extracted and distilled from four different areas of our fields.
For next season we have forecasted a significant increase in our marketing and communication budget and in particular we are concentrating on the Vialattea ski area. The advertising campaign which will follow skiers is characterised by so-called “storytelling”.
In partnership with a very talented designer from Milan we have created six completely different characters who all have a common passion for drinking LAR-ICE. The six characters can be discovered by skiing on Vialattea slopes. Click for a preview!
Also, our packaging has been renewed. The wording LAR-ICE on the wooden label has been printed in relief silkscreen using a jet black polish for perfect clarity.
During spring our production premises underwent an intensive renovation project. Behind the boutique we opened our tasting and production area built into the original 1609 basement of the “baita” which has been masterly restored and furnished to reflect LAR-ICE visionary and modern attitude.
Finally, as a totally new idea that aims to establish an exclusive relationship with each and every one of our customers, we have decided to reserve 90 bottles, in addition to the 1202 numbered bottles, and make them customisable by hand on request.
Our fifth year in production is fast approaching and, as is our style we couldn’t help but include a few new features and improvements.
First of all, we successfully applied for, and obtained certification for both organic and vegan product status. The development, however, of which we are most proud of is undoubtedly our complete in-house production process. This means, from the moment of extraction to the closing of the bottle we have achieved our aim of obtaining a totally local product, thus ensuring full quality control and offering our customers the best LAR-ICE digestive possible.
With this aim in mind, we have now replaced our already high quality ingredients with organic ones: mountain spring water, organic whole cane sugar, natural wheat alcohol and of course, our characteristic larch extract.
This year, while continuing to offer quality products with regard to both aesthetic appearance and craftsmanship, we are proud to include in our range a 1 litre magnum bottle, with a stylish contemporary design: opaque military green colour that contrasts with our gold logo as well as featuring our distinctive handmade Larch wood cap. This magnum complements our 0.5-litre wooden bottles which are numbered and customised by hand.
Finally, for next season we have created an advertising campaign with a mission to protect our environment.
The slogan “Welcome into the woods of LARICE”, together with 3D animated trees, aims to highlight both the specific and native biodiversity’s that must be respected in the future.
This campaign has been developed in partnership with a London-based designer specialising in 3D fantasy characters and like last season will be located in Via Lattea and Bardonecchia. Click for a preview!