Brandy is a distilled beverage extracted from the sublimation of red or white grape wine. The origin of the word comes from the Dutch brandewijn, meaning “burnt wine”. It has been produced in Europe since the 16th century, though its origins go back to the Arab culture, which introduced it to the Iberian Peninsula.
Brandy enjoys great prestige in Spain as do French cognac, Peruvian pisco and Scotch whisky. It is usually taken after meals, served in a round goblet of the finest crystal and usually at room temperature, though there are those who prefer to warm up the glass and drink it a little warmer to enhance its aroma and flavor.
These are some of the most pleasant Spanish brandies, which can be found on the international market:
Conde de los Andes Solera Gran Reserva
WINERY: Federico Paternina S.A.
Produced in Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, and aged for 25 years, this brandy has an attractive dark mahogany color. The aroma is sweet, with hints of candied fruit, prunes and figs. It has mild nuances of honey. Smooth, round and balanced in the mouth, it boasts interesting notes of wood, with hints of coffee, caramel and raisins and has a delicate, silky finish.
Jaime I Family Reserva
WINERY: Bodegas Torres
With an average aging period of 30 years, Jaime I is one of Spain’s most prestigious brandies. It has a dark mahogany color, and closer to the nose, it brings aromas of nuts, especially, toasted hazelnuts, with undertones of vanilla and toffee. In the mouth, it is round and soft. A spicy and sensual strength brought by the ageing in oak barrels distinguishes this very old brandy which, well preserved will still be perfect for 20 more years.
Peinado 100 años
WINERY: Juan Antonio Peinado
This is an excellent 100-year old brandy produced since 1820 by Juan Antonio Peinado winery in Tomelloso, Castile – La Mancha, with the same aging system used for the brandies from Jerez. It shows a mahogany color, with subtle and complex aromas of dried fruits, plums, figs, honey and licorice, and a background of caramel and vanilla. In the mouth, it is round, tasty and velvety. With a lingering and delicate aromatic finish, it is an elegant and complex spirit.
Gran Duque de Alba Solera Gran Reserva
WINERY: Williams & Humbert
This is a Grand Reserve aged brandy. Its annual production is limited to 5,000 bottles, numbered and controlled by the regulatory Council of the Jerez Designation of Origin. Its color is mahogany with golden sparkles. Its aroma is complex, with balsamic hues and toasted touches due to its long stay in wooden barrels. It has a soft, full flavor with notes of vanilla from the wood, and a long and pleasant finish. ■