Filu 'E Ferru, The Sardinian Grappa 0 Comments

Filu 'E Ferru, The Sardinian Grappa

Born in Sardinia, an island of wide wine tradition, filu 'e ferru is "the" distillate of Sardinian grapes par excellence, 40 degrees, transparent, permeating the mouth and pleasing the nose for its flowers, fruit and spices bouquet, it's great after a meal. It is also called abbardente (or acuardenti), “burning water” in some Sardinian regions. It has a warm golden colour thanks to the "barricade" process, of at least one year in small oak barrels, which provides the wood notes in addition to those belonging to the pomace of grapes, generally Vermentino or Vernaccia and often Cannonau. The substantial value of this distillate is its strong identity of the territory of origin.

You may taste different typology: dried, aged in barrique, flavored with licorice or with wild fennel.

It’s interesting to know that Santu Lussurgiu's FILU FERRU distillate graphic design was awarded with the silver label at the 23rd Vinitaly Design Int'l Packaging Competition - 2019.

In fact the 6 labels of the distilled abbardente show six different subjects of the Lussurgesi iron masters art: 

  • the coffee grinder, to mill coffee and pepper;
  • the scissors to shear the wool, representing the bucolic world;
  • the door knocker;
  • the mounting to steer the horse and guide it in the right direction;
  • the knife, a tool for shepherds’ daily use for everything they have to do;
  • the master brand for fire branding, which ensured the cattle identification in case of  rustling, in the agro-pastoral world where the cattle represent a primary good.

The story of the origin of the filu ‘e ferru name, comes from mid nineteenth century when, with the Sella law of June 1874, home distilling was forbidden so shepherds and peasants, who illegally produced the filu ‘e ferru, to avoid confiscation by dae sa fortza, (financial police or Carabinieri), hid the still and the bottles under the ground in the countryside. But to identify the place where they had buried them, they tied to the neck of the bottles and to the still an iron wire leaving one or more wire ends out of the ground. From here the literal translation to the italian "Filo di Ferro" or, in Sardininan, "Filu 'e Ferru".

A beautiful Romanesque poem by Carlo Giannelli, an estimator of the Sardinian product, wonderfully portrays  the filu ‘e ferru story:

Pe' fregà er Dazio e avè pieno er bricco,

che fà er pastore ner chiuso de "sa lolla"?

...Co' le mano...strizza la mammella...

...mentre lo sguardo fissa...l'allambicco!

Quanno che dar vitigno...goccia doppo goccia,

sorte "er core" da l'amato tralcio,

...cor profumo anniscosto da l'odor de cacio...

...distilla tranquillo...più de 'na boccia!

Pe' evità, poi, d'avè li piedi a mollo...

je lega 'n fil de ferro intorno ar collo...

nisconne le bocce ne le fratte der terreno,

...lassanno 'n filo più der meno!

Quanno, che poi, se sente sazzio e fiero...' la cordula magnata in sieme ar pecorino...

..e pe' le costolette de capra e porcellino,

sorte de fora a ripescar quer ferro!


To cheat the taxes and having the bottle full,

what does the shepherd do under his porch?

 …With his hands  … he is milking the udder…

While with his eyes are watching… the distiller! 

When from the grapes… drop after drop, 

the “heart” of the beloved fruit comes out,

with its scent covered by the cheese smell…

…he quietly distills … one bottle and more!

To avoid remaining without it…

He ties a wire around the bottle neck

hides the bottles in the ravines of the ground

…leaving outside the wire… 

When then he feels satiated and proud …

…for eating sa cordula with pecorino cheese,

and goat and piglet ribs,

he goes out to rescue that iron!


written by Daniela Toti


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