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Nov 21, 2012 06:15 PM

Need help finding an obscure Italian digestivo for Christmas!

My husband is a huge fan of a digestivo from Abruzzo called Genziana. We go every summer to visit my family and bring home 3 or 4 bottles of it, but inevitably, by this time of the year he's close to running out. I would love to buy him a couple of bottles for Christmas. I've done a pretty comprehensive search on the internet (I will pay relatively insane postage to do this) but I've found nothing.

Any ideas of where I can find this? I can't believe it can't be found. They have multiple brands of this stuff in every grocery store in Abruzzo. SOMEBODY must be able to import it. I'm in Brooklyn, NY if that matters (maybe there is a local distributor I am unaware of..?) Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Maybe ask some good upscale Italian restaurants in your area if they can get it for you?

      1. re: DavidT

        thanks, but I tried there and they said they couldn't deliver to the U.S. Maybe I'll try one of the Brooklyn Italian food importers to see if they can help me.

      2. The best route for you is to have a friend living in NJ to get a state one-time personal use importation license and then your family can buy the bottles from the grocery and ship them to your friend.

        The long answer is that importing alcohol commercially is a PITA. You can check the TTB regulations - they are long and the importer needs to comply with state/local regulations (usually licensing and requirements of special warehousing among other things) as well. The producers also have to register with the FDA (any food or drug producer has to, not just alcohol producers).

        Normally importing for personal consumption would be the way to go. However NY State alcohol importing laws are pretty strict - if alcohol is shipped into the state, than it has to be to a state licensed importer. There is no importing via for personal consumption except via personal carry from travel abroad.

        If you have a friend in NJ, they can apply for a one-time use license in NJ, then you can have your family buy it from a grocery store and ship it to your friend in NJ under the personal use importation. It is illegal to transport alcohol through the U.S. Postal service, so your family can't just use their post office. They will have to use a private carrier, (UPS, FedEx do not allow personal shipments, I don't know which private carrier will allow it). If it was properly declared and your friend got a one-time license, if customs intercepts it at the port of entry, your may get a letter saying that customs thinks that it is commercial importation. Then they would have to go to the customs office in order to clear things up as a personal consumption and pay whatever import duties and taxes are due - takes a little time, but no real problem otherwise. If it was not improperly declared (eg claiming it as yeast samples or collectable glassware), and intercepted by customs, whomever the recipient is will get an angry threatening letter from customs about illegal importation of alcohol, lying on the customs form, etc. a big headache and time sink esp if the recipient ever had trouble with customs before, and you will have to chalk up that shipment as lost. Most of the time however, the customs cannot check every package and they won't intercept them.

        1 Reply
        1. re: khuzdul

          Thanks for the detailed response! Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to get my family in Abruzzo to go to that trouble, so I think the buck stops here. We'll have to buy a case when we go back next year. But I really appreciate your taking the time to explain it to me!