Brandy de Jerez. This is my first bottle of Brandy de Jerez, picked up at the Barcelona airport duty free shop…the perfect boozy souvenir for a trip to Spain, right? I spent an embarrassingly long time selecting a bottle, but finally settled on the Cardenal Mendoza Carta Real, a big hitter of brandy primarily aged in oloroso sherry casks for an average of 25+ years. The sherry influence is undeniable, and it’s deeply rich and aromatic with flavors of sweet wine, raisins, prunes, caramel/molasses, and oak. SO rich, even with a cube of ice it absolutely coats your mouth with a deep jammy richness, with no hint of alcohol harshness whatsoever.
Like any other brandy, Brandy de Jerez is a spirit made from fruit (Spanish grapes in this case), and is aged in the sherry producing region of southwest Spain around the city/area of Jerez de la Frontera (“jerez” is Spanish for “sherry”). It’s aged inside oak barrels previously used for aging sherry wines, which is a type of fortified (alcohol-strengthened) wine made in a specific tradition to produce characteristic flavors. There are different styles of sherry that are vastly different in flavor and sweetness (i.e. fino, manzanilla, oloroso, PX, etc), and these Spanish brandies can use any combination of these used sherry casks, providing great variance in the end product.
This Spanish style of brandy is extremely flavorful, partly due to its production process that distills lower proof/% alcohol, meaning it’s able to retain more of the original flavor compounds of the distillate (more distillation = less flavor). This one is bottled at 40%, but oftentimes it’s bottled even lower around 35%. This is truly a unique brandy (nothing like the well-known French brandies like cognac/armagnac/etc) that is worth trying out. I already want a second bottle to compare.