Spirits producers from Spain continue to maintain their foothold around the world. Exports performed well in 2018, increasing by 4% year-on-year for a total value of 490 million euros.
It’s also worth noting that almost every category registered growth, especially gin, for which exports expanded by a notable 30% compared with 2017, the bulk of it heading to consumers in the UK, Germany and Italy. Whiskey and brandy also saw growth in exports in year-on-year terms, up 8.7% and 7.7%, respectively.
In total, 40% of Spanish spirit production is exported to other countries, the primary markets being the Philippines, Germany, Mexico and France. In today’s competitive marketplace, many distilleries are looking to set themselves apart, becoming pioneers as they create unique processes and introduce premium products into the market. In fact, a few innovative Spanish companies are taking premium spirits to a whole new level. Below are a few of the brands in Spain offering novel drinks to consumers.
A spirit from northern Spain that’s making waves at the moment is Nordés gin, a particularly bold beverage that showcases several native flavors from the region. It contains a wine liqueur, made with Albariño grapes, and up to 12 botanicals, more than half of them from Galicia, such as samphire, laurel, sage, lemon verbena, and eucalyptus. The combination of a drawn-out distillation process and highly unique ingredients, such as the succulent plant salicornia, make this a standout for gin lovers.
This gin has won several accolades, including the Master – Super Premium at the 2019 Gin Masters Awards and a gold medal at the 2018 Travel Retail Masters Awards.
Puerto de Indias is another premium gin maker, based in Spain’s southern city of Seville. It may be the oldest distillery in all of Andalusia, opening its doors in 1880, but today the company is a true innovator, producing the world’s first pink-colored strawberry gin and being credited with creating a brand new category of rosé gins. The unconventional company’s products are already available in international markets.
Ginebra Siderit also relies on local flavors for production. Made with Sideritis Hyssopifolia, a shrublet that grows in the Picos de Europe mountains, this handcrafted gin from a microdistillery in Cantabria, northern Spain, is made in small batches and is available in classic, gingerlime and hisbiscus flavors.
The production technique is just as unique as the ingredients. This dry gin is double distilled in a proprietary reflex fractional column using only glass to avoid any foreign smells and flavors. The combination of botanicals used—from pink pepper and mandarin to almonds and lily root—ensure this gin’s standing as a high-end spirit.
Carlos I may be made in Jerez, and it may use the traditional solera-criadera aging system, but it sure isn’t sherry. Made with wines containing the Airén grape, a white grape native to Spain, and using Arabian stills, this luxury beverage is aged in American oak casks that were previously used for Amontillado and Oloroso sherry. As part of the ageing process, younger and more mature brandies are mixed, affording the blended spirit a complex and distinct flavor.
Embrujo de Granada Whiskey, which is produced in the south, is the first pure single malt whiskey to be made in Spain. After several years of trial and error, research and experimentation, the company has created this unique premium spirit that gets its distinct flavor from the water used, which comes from the Padul lagoon in the Sierra Nevada Natural Park.
The production process involves double distillation in copper stills using a dual still system; the stills are designed and made in Spain. The whiskey is aged in American oak barrels previously used for Pedro Ximénez sherry, which gives it a very subtle scent and mild flavor.
Embrujo de Granada goes the extra mile when it comes to the packaging, too. The elegant, ergonomic bottle was designed specifically to set it apart from other single malts and to entice whiskey drinkers everywhere.
Ron Montero, the company behind the special premium rum Ron Montero Gran Reserva and a “super premium” rum, Ron Francisco Montero, has been using a secret formula to make its one-of-a-kind spirits since 1963, in Motril, Granada. The family behind this business has been cultivating its own sugarcane for years and uses their molasses to make their premium rums. At present, they sell 24,000 liters of rum per year. Arehucas is another leading rum producer, based in the Canary Islands. Their Arehueca Añejo Reserva Especial Aged Rum is one of their premium spirits. It is balanced yet powerful and aged for 18 years in the company’s century-old rum cellar.
Arehucas has become a benchmark brand in the Canary Islands and beyond, exporting its products to 10 countries and committed to further expanding its international footprint.
There is plenty of scope for growth in the premium spirits market, and Spanish companies are far from done innovating. New products, new strategies and new methods are always in the works as producers aim to delight with their surprising spirits.
Text: Samara Kamenecka/@ICEX