Spanish Brandy (September 2022)

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RECOMMENDED SPIRIT

Fundador Solera Reserva Spanish Brandy

This month’s box, Goodbye Summer, Hello Brandy, was created using Fundador Solera Reserva Spanish Brandy, an exquisite brandy distilled in the Marco de Jerez region of Spain. Originating from the Bodega de la Luz, the oldest known bodega in the region, Fundador was established by the Familia Domecq, whose French wine-making roots informed the distillation of Spanish-grown grapes beginning in 1730. Since then, Fundador has become the epitome of Spanish brandy production, still relying on traditional distillation techniques and grapes exclusively from the Pago de Macharnudo de la Jerez, a region known as the ‘The Perfect Triangle’, due to its unparalleled sun, wind and soil conditions. Featuring a beautiful golden colour with notes of sherry wine barrels, fruitcake, apricot and a hint of aromatic spice, this brandy will bring depth and complexity to the fresh summer cocktails found within this month’s box.

Triple S Lemonade

There is no drink out there more ubiquitous with sunshine than an ice-cold, sweet, sour and refreshing lemonade. However, a lemonade can be so much more than the powdery, diluted liquid you bought from children at a makeshift booth set up on the corner while attempting to escape from the sweltering heat of July. This is a Crafty Cocktails lemonade, which means your summertime favourite is getting a well-deserved overhaul. The three ‘S’s denote the defining factors of this cocktail; a Super taste and Sour profile are afforded by an excess of lemon-based ingredients like Jam Goddess Sour Lemon Marmalade, Modern Cuisine Spiced Lemonade syrup, San Pellegrino Sparkling Limonata, Ms. Better’s Trans Canada bitters and fresh lemon juice, while the Spanish element comes from the beautiful base of Spanish brandy, providing body and depth to this extremely citrusy cocktail. Refreshing, complex and mature, this lemonade will put the S back in your summertime!

San Domingo's Fire

A coupe sits atop a long, wooden altar. The light of a thousand candles dances off the stone walls as patrons gather in front, their faces distorted by the low, glowing incandescence of the room. The Mixologist Maximus steps out from the shadows, appearing behind the altar carrying the ceremonial shaker and a mysterious white box with black lettering, the words on which are difficult to make out, but the hexagonal shape and bar tools emblazoned on it are all too familiar. Placing the box down, the revered ingredients are taken out and shown one by one; fresh pomegranate, key lime, Prosyro Falernum, The Bitter Truth Aromatic bitters, Odd Society Sweet Vermouth, all implements used to appease the divine Goddess of the Libation. The coupe is baptized in a sugared pistachio rim and the ingredients are all anointed by the holy pairing of Spanish brandy and ice. As the Mixologist Maximus breaks the ceremonial shaker and strains the blessed liquid, the spirit of the goddess fills the room, undeniable to any gathered there. All commune and enjoy with her this truly unique cocktail.

Equinox Punch

Towards the end of September, the Earth experiences one of its two equinoxes, where the day cycle and night cycle are exactly equal to each other. While it marks the end of summer, there is still plenty of good, sunny weather to be had, but the slow creep of the cold can also be felt as the sun dips below the horizon. It is a magical time when the light and dark are in harmonious balance. It is this sense of balance that we also try to strive for when creating a Crafty Cocktail. In this meticulously balanced cocktail, you’ll find diurnal elements of sweet Prosyro Apricot syrup and Nai Peach/Mango/Jasmine White Tea balanced strongly against tart dehydrated apricots, mandarin oranges, and fresh lemon, while the nocturnal aspect finds equal footing with ingredients like Ms. Better’s Trans Canada bitters, Odd Society Bittersweet Vermouth and Spanish Brandy. This is truly a cocktail which follows the mantra ‘As Above, So Below’.

Why Spanish Brandy?

Although brandy is produced around the world, the Spanish iteration of this delectable spirit is unique for several reasons. Historically, Spain is thought to be one of the first European countries to distill brandy from grapes, with evidence for its production dating back to at least the 13th century. This long tradition has made Spain one of the world’s foremost brandy producers, resulting in a stunning selection of bodegas, or distilleries, creating some of the world’s best tasting and most sought-after varietals.  

However, the most distinguishing factor of Spanish brandy is its employment of the solera system of aging, which is an extremely unique style used only for a very select group of products. This is because the solera system itself takes an exorbitant amount of time, care, and forethought to create.

              Essentially, in a solera system, a bodega stores a particular varietal of brandy in barrels year after year, eventually creating a massive stack of barrels with each new vintage stacked on top of the barrels from the previous year. This stack of barrels forms what is known as a criaderas, Spanish for nursery, and creates a collection of brandy which, over time, possesses a similar average age and flavour.

              Every year, when a bodega begins their saca, or bottling run, for the season, a select amount of brandy (usually around 25% of the barrel) is taken out of the bottom row of barrels and put into bottles to sell. Once the bottling has been completed, the distillers have the painstaking task of filling the now partially empty barrels with brandy from the row above it, mixing the younger vintage with the more mature version below. The process continues until the producers reach the top layer of barrels and all the barrels below have been filled. From there, the virgin brandy which was distilled that year is used to fill what is missing from the barrels at the top of the criaderas.

              While convoluted and extremely hard to manage, the beautifully intricate solera system creates brandy which not only has had enough time to mature, but also contains the characteristics of all the vintages which came before it. The brandy is therefore extremely complex and can exhibit a variety of tasting notes.

              To add to its unique nature and complexity, Spanish law requires that, in order to be classified as Spanish brandy, the barrels holding the brandy must have formerly been used to age sherry, a form of fortified wine, for at least three years. Furthermore, the primary grape used for distilling Spanish brandy, the Airén grape, grows amazingly well in arid regions and tends towards a more dry and complex flavour profile.

              All these factors result in a spirit that features an abundance of complexity. Not only will Spanish brandy exhibit dry, fruity flavours like stone fruit and citrus peel, it will contain a high concentration of tannins from the sherry casks and Airén grape. It will also be extremely representative of Spain’s environment over the last few decades, as weather conditions will not only be reflected in the flavour of grapes but will also have an effect on how the brandy ages in the barrels.

              Being so complex, Spanish brandy was therefore the perfect base spirit for this month’s box, Goodbye Summer, Hello Brandy, as the typical flavour profile can take on both a summer or an autumn character, being simultaneously fruity and oaky/dry. This adaptive spirit can play into the hands of either season, so we curated a collection of ingredients which complements this unique characteristic, including Prosyro Apricot syrup, Ms. Better’s Trans Canada bitters, Jam Goddess Sour Lemon Marmalade, Bitter Truth Aromatic bitters, Nai Peach/Mango/Jasmine White Tea, Sugared Pistachio rimmer, Odd Society Vermouth mist, San Pellegrino Sparkling Limonata and a ton of other amazing products.

              Whether you’re looking to extend your summertime vibes or are ready for the beautiful colours and brisk weather of autumn, the unparallel taste of Spanish brandy can take you there, especially when enjoyed in one of the three delicious cocktails found in this month’s Crafty Cocktails box, Goodbye Summer, Hello Brandy.  Cheers!

Missed this box? Click here to order a one-time delivery from our shop!

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