Try the best Andalucian brandies: learn about its history and the best brands around
Andalucia is a fertile land that produces magnificent crops and products. From this incomparable location come Andalucian brandies, many of which are safeguarded by designations of origin that ensure the quality of their materials and craftsmanship. In southern Spain, there are two in particular, the Designations of Origin “Jerez-Xérès-Sherry” y “Manzanilla – Sanlúcar de Barrameda”.
The beginnings of the production of Brandy de Jerez are not clear; in fact it seems that its production was discovered by chance. In the sixteenth century, there was a large production of this spirit for which, like today, high taxes had to be paid. One of the legends told around Jerez is that the construction of the Cathedral was paid for with money from a special tax which crowned this product.
The origin of brandy is the use of low-quality wines that were used as “burned wine” and sent to Holland after being burned. This is where the name given to the distilled wine used in the production of brandy there: holandas. This spirit does not exceed 70% proof and is transparent. The ageing process in oak barrels gives it its characteristic colour. Contrary to what many may think, Brandy is not a Spanish version of cognac.
On the contrary, Spanish brandy is the older liquor. It is served alone in a fine crystal ball glass, sometimes with ice, creating a pleasant after-dinner chat with current conversation topics. However, consumption of brandy in other, less conventional ways is now becoming more popular, such as mixing it with sparkling drinks, with juices or creating other beverages such as creams with about 15-18% alcohol. It is also used in traditional cuisine, mainly flambéed with meat for making sauces.
If you come to Spain, don’t leave without trying the best Spanish brandies.
1. LA BOTA DE BRANDY No. 29
A real treat for brandy lovers. The Navazos team has become famous for selecting the best fortified wines, choosing example from various wineries in Jerez. It has now introduced this outstanding brandy, aged in fine casks from the Jerez winery Rey Fernando de Castilla. Finesse and complexity, depth and elegance are its characteristic features. D. O. Brandy de Jerez. It costs about € 95.
2. CARLOS I IMPERIAL GRAN SOLERA
Carlos I Imperial, Solera Gran Reserva, is a brandy from Jerez produced with holandas coming from wines previously subjected to quality control in the distillation process. After this, it is aged for more than 15 years in American oak barrels which contained sherry for years. The system of criaderas and soleras used for ageing gives rise to an amber-coloured intense fine brandy with many nuances. It costs about 50 €. If you are travelling through the province of Cádiz, make sure you take one as a souvenir for use on any special occasion.
3. BARBADILLO DECANTER GRAN RESERVA
Barbadillo, is a century-old winery located in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. It has produced this brandy solera gran reserva for over 20 years which is sold in blown glass decanter which is numbered and signed by the person responsible for their production. One of the highlights is its intense amber-mahogany golden and warm colour, dry and well balanced in the mouth, with a long after-taste. D. O. Brandy de Jerez. It costs € 50. Make sure you try it!
4. 1866 GRAN RESERVA LARIOS
The best and most famous brandy made in Málaga. It is a limited brandy produced initially by the Larios wineries in Málaga which have over 100 years of tradition behind them, and they offer a very harmonious, smooth and balanced product. The key to their quality is the choice of casks, the distillation process and the holanda ageing in American oak casks for over eleven years. Its price is set above 45 €.
5. LUIS FELIPE GRAN RESERVA
Highly prized, this brandy is produced in the area of La Palma del Condado in the province of Huelva las Bodegas Rubio with limited annual production. History tells us that, in 1893, some abandoned barrels that had been reserved for the Duke of Montpensier containing a peculiar aged brandy were found. Amber, very aromatic, offering great balance and softness to the palate. In addition, Luis Felipe brandy earned a silver medal in the international “World Spirits Selection 2012” competition held in Canada. It costs € 80.
6. GRAN DUQUE DE ALBA ORO
This is a wonderful brandy solera gran reserva, aged at least 20 years following the traditional American oak cask method with a very old short pole in the Bodegas Williams & Humbert. This brandy has a limited production as its annual production is limited to 5,000 bottles numbered and controlled by the Regulatory Council of the D.O. Jerez. It costs € 130. So make sure you grab a bottle of Gran Duque de Alba Oro.
7. CONDE DE OSBORNE DALÍ
Apart from its quality, this brandy from Bodegas Osborne has a peculiarity closely linked to art: this white porcelain bottle was designed in 1964 by international artist, Salvador Dalí (hence its name). This brandy is aged for more than ten years in El Puerto de Santa María, and is soft, smooth and velvety in the mouth, with a complex and intense finish. Its dark mahogany colour is characteristic. D. O. Brandy de Jerez. It costs € 60. Another curiosity of these wineries is that bulls, which, at the time, advertised the brand, are currently the symbol of Spain on all roads.
8. CARDENAL MENDOZA CARTA REAL
This Royal Charter has an average age of 30 years and is presented in numbered and screen printed bottles. Coming from the Cardinal Mendoza’s brandy reserve, in 1981, he created the winery Sánchez Romate. Each sip retains all the character and sweetness of the Pedro Ximénez grape with perfectly integrated alcohol. D. O. Brandy de Jerez. It costs € 65.
If you want to discover the best brandies in Andalucia, make sure you stay at the best hotels. The best option, of course, is Fuerte Hoteles. The chain has branches where you can enjoy the best of each area throughout Andalucia, in addition to its services. It boasts over 60 years of experience and gives you the time to discover these treats for the palate. Marbella, Conil, Grazalema, El Rompido or Torrox are some sites where you can find these amazing hotels which are close to all these points we recommend.