Nocino is one of my favourite things to drink after dinner. Gentle, complex, faintly herbal, more cola-like flavour than anything particularly nutty; my first batch is three year old and drinking well.
Nocino, or its French walnut-liqueur relations, is an easy thing to make. A delivery of a couple of kilograms of green walnuts turned up on the doorstep yesterday, so it was time today to put down another Nocino batch.
Pick at least 24 green walnuts before the inner shells develop (test this with a skewer, which should be an easy push-through). Halve them and pack into a clean glass jar of about two litres in capacity. As you fill the jar, add in 8 cloves, a cinnamon stick, one whole nutmeg, the zest of a large lemon and a vanilla pod. Fill the jar with vodka or other neutral spirit (I used a one litre bottle of Absolut this time) to cover the walnuts, spices and lemon zest completely.
Leave the jar in a sunny spot for 40 days. Then strain the infused spirit through fine muslin or coffee filter paper. Make a sugar syrup, cool it, and add the syrup to the strained spirit base until you reach the level of strength and sweetness you like.
Add to clean bottles and store for at least a month before sampling. For my tastes, this is best left for a year to mellow and smooth out, then drink neat as a digestivo. It will keep for years.