Among my many adventures in the past year, my experience with Mirto will be long remembered. Not only was my Corsican evening infused with the pungent aromas of the Mirto, but I nearly became an expert in braille. So what in the heck is Mirto one might ask?
Mirto is a niche drink of the Mirto plant (bush) that is pervasively found on the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Capraia an Elba. It has a distinct initial taste of cinnamon / orange overlaid with a hint of maple syrup and a bitter almond / chestnut finish. Corsica local legend has it that it was Napoleon’s drink of choice and gave him the courage to battle the world! The Mirto market is very small and comprised of individual, small household brands. The process of making Mirto in some ways reminds me of American moonshine except with the European flavor twist– which almost defeats the analogy. Brewers pick the flowers in the late summer for the white version which accounts for ~10% of all Mirto and in fall pick the berries for the red version. Alcohol or brandy is mixed in with the berries to “cure” them and once that process is complete they are typically mixed with a sweetener like honey or sugar.
What surprises me is how delicious the drink was and how non-promoted this market is. As previously mentioned there is no major brand and the market is comprised of many small sized individual household firms. A quick Google search brought up minimal results and further confirmed that this drink is Mediterranean island exclusive. I find it odd that something this good could be confined to this certain geographical area this long. Maybe examining the history of Sakis rise to the dinner table is a good comparable. And further research on my end is needed and questions still exist that are begging to be answered. Why is it that it’s still “local” and what will it take to kick Myrthe off the island and make it a global success?