About Spanish SPIRITS

As with many European countries, Spain produces a wide range of spirits and liqueurs, be they cream liqueurs, digestifs, gins, vodkas and fruit liqueurs, however, the most recognized spirit from Spain is brandy, especially those from Jerez zone. Aged in oak, styles vary, from one year of wood aging to the Gran Riserva, aged for a period averaging ten years; these are of exceptional quality.

Brandy de Jerez is made by the Sherry houses centered around the city of Jerez de la Frontera in the southwest corner of Spain. Virtually all Brandy de Jerez; however, is made from wines produced elsewhere in Spain -- primarily from the Airen grape in La Mancha and Extremadura -- as the local Sherry grapes are too valuable to divert into Brandy production. Nowadays most of the distilling is likewise done elsewhere in Spain using column stills. It is then shipped to Jerez for aging in used Sherry casks in a solera system similar to that used for Sherry wine. A solera is a series of large casks (called butts), each holding a slightly older spirit than the previous one beside it. When brandy is drawn off (racked) from the last butt (no more than a third of the volume is removed) it is replenished with brandy drawn from the next butt in line all the way down the solera line to the first butt, where newly distilled brandy is added. This system of racking the brandy through a series of casks blends together a variety of vintages (some soleras have over 30 stages) and results in a speeding up of the maturation process.

Basic Brandy de Jerez Solera must age for a minimum of six months, Reserva for one year and Gran Reserva for a minimum of three years. In practice, the best Reservas and Gran Reservas are frequently aged for 12 to 15 years. The lush, slightly sweet and fruity notes to be found in Brandy de Jerez come not only from aging in Sherry casks, but also from the judicious use of fruit-based flavor concentrates and oak essence (boise).

Penedès Brandy comes from the Penedès region of Catalonia in the northeast corner of Spain near Barcelona. Modeled after the Cognacs of France and made from a mix of regional grapes and locally-grown Ugni Blanc of Cognac, it is distilled in pot stills. One of the two local producers (Torres) ages in soleras consisting of butts made from French Limousin oak, whereas the other (Mascaro) ages in the standard non-solera manner, but also in Limousin oak. The resulting Brandy is heartier than Cognac, but leaner and drier than Brandy de Jerez.

Top Picks for Spain
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Frissé
Rosé Frizzante Sangria
Neon light ruby color. Sweet, confected aromas and flavors of cranberry juice cocktail, sweet lemonade, white grape and strawberry, and cotton candy with a satiny, racy, fruity sweet light body and an effortless, charming, snappy fresh celery and tangerine finish. A light and breezy wine spritzer that is super sessionable.
88 points $10.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
213726
Tremols Easy Cocktails
Piña Colada
Creamy white with floating bits color. Lively, sweet, tropical exotic creamy aromas and flavors of fresh cream, coconut flakes, dried pineapple, and banana cream pie with a chunky, soft, moderately sweet fat body and a tingling, delightful, medium-length coconut cream, pineapple candy, whole milk, and vanilla and coconut wax finish. Nice piña colada flavor however the chunky bits of coconut flakes are tough to swallow; blend in a blender with ice.
87 points $12 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
213727
Tremols Easy Cocktails
Caipirinha
Hazy slivery straw color. Bright, earthy aromas of cane stalk, flower patch, citrus pith, and diesel-like minerality with a supple, crisp, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a smooth, interesting, brisk lime zest, sugar cane, wax, and gravel finish.
86 points $12 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
213734
Tremols Easy Cocktails
Long Island Iced Tea
Bright medium mahogany color. Lively, toasty, grassy aromas of dusty spices and herbs, smoked peppercorns, cola, and cedar with an even, tangy, off-dry medium-to-full body and a peppery, delightful, relaxed candied citrus and sweet lemon tea finish. A sweet, candied, toasty cola cocktail.
86 points $12 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
217492
Sol de Ibiza
Sangria
Dull ruby color. Spicy, fruity aromas and flavors of spiced cherries and berries, baked plum, and hint of rice cake with a lightly tannic, shy, fruity sweet light-to-medium body and a smooth, quick clove and cinnamon, apple skin, and chalk finish. A pleasant, easy-drinking sangria; serve on the rocks.
84 points $14.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
216551
Kirkland Signature
Sangria
Clear light ruby color. Unusual, umami aromas of over steamed rice, cherry pits, berry candle, and floral talc with a lean, shy, dryish thin body and a tingling, short balsa, berry water, and parchment finish.
84 points $6.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
213492
Lost Vineyards
Classic Sangria
Dark garnet color. Mild, baked aromas of roasted red berries and nougat with a silky, bright, fruity light-to-medium body and a smooth, brisk spiced apple and citrus finish. A mellow sangria sipper.
83 points $7.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
213494
Lost Vineyards
Berry Sangria
Bright medium dark garnet color. Delicate, fruity aromas and flavors of berry powder drink, cocoa, pixie sticks candy, and children’s aspirin with an even, crisp, moderately sweet light-to-medium body and a tingling, quick cherry candy wrapper and nutshell finish.
83 points $7.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
213731
Tremols Easy Cocktails
Sex on the Beach
Cloudy light ruby color. Bright, fruity, confected aromas and flavors of melon and raspberries sorbets with a supple, tart, fruity sweet light body and a graceful, brisk berry aspirin and melon rind finish. A pleasant fruit cocktail.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
213733
Tremols Easy Cocktails
Mai Tai
Neon red color. Delicate, earthy, herbal aromas and flavors of peppercorns, berry gelatin powder, and cotton cloth with a silky, tangy, sweet light-to-medium body and a silky, brisk cranberry and strawberry sorbet and fruit punch finish. A nice tangy cocktail.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab