Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Getting Better Acquainted with... RuaVieja Aguardiente de Orujo

What’s that, mater and pater? You’re going on holiday to Spain? Excellent. Could you pick up some aguardiente de orujo for me? I’ll write it down for you. Spend up to 20 euros. Don’t worry what brand, I’ve only had a couple before, so you’re almost certain to get something new. Don’t go to too much trouble either though, eh?
Those were the instructions I gave my parents on hearing of their upcoming jaunt. What transpired was that my mum went to considerable lengths that culminated in her getting the exact same brand I’d had before. I knew it as soon as she called on her return, told me it was in a brown bottle, and began giving me a blow by blow account of how she had completed the task. I just knew it and the disappointment was so strong that I couldn’t let her finish her story. It was difficult apparently, she tried everywhere, no one had even heard of it, and she finally found some in Duty Free on the way home.
Worse than getting the first brand of aguardiente I’d ever tried, she paid 4 times more for it as well. Oh well. I’ll be able to give it a bit of a reappraisal at least.
What is aguardiente de orujo? Well, it’s pomace brandy – like the grappa that I keep banging on about, although this originates from Spain rather than from Italy. This one is full-bodied, but not as refined as my favourite varieties of white grappa. There’s something weird about it though, that I didn’t notice last time; it has for example, an aroma that is very reminiscent of baiju. Mrs Cake says it smells like wee. I have to disagree with that, it smells much nicer than that, but it is something I’d expect the casual drinker would find objectionable.
It is nicely sweet at the tip of the tongue, but further back, that funky baiju quality comes through and dominates. The, just as you’re deciding it has crossed the line into the area marked “unpleasant”, that extra 2% alcohol kicks in to give you a sweet and reassuring burn.
I think you can really learn to love it though because, on return visits my appreciation deepened and I’ve been enjoying it very much – not chilled or over ice though, like I’ve read suggested at classicspirits.co.uk and again on RuaVieja’s website.. I like it as is and, having tried it chilled, room temperature is the way I’ll continue. That has the added bonus of freeing up fridge space, and not having to plan ahead every time I want a glass.
If you’re an alcothusiast like I am, aguardiente de orujo adds another dimension to trips to Spain. It makes a nice change, and it’s a spirit that isn’t currently (at the time of writing) available via your online retailers in the UK, so it’s something exotic but close to home.
Perhaps we can even say this is a benchmark – how much of an alcothusiast you are depends on what you think of aguardiente, and whether, having tried it, you’d buy another bottle. I would. Maybe you could start by buying your first bottle.

Ok. Thanks for stopping by again (assuming you did). I’m off to Northern Italy again tomorrow – for a holiday, but also to stock up on grappa for the year. Hopefully I’ll get to visit some distilleries, too. So there won’t be a post next week, but I will be back the week after. Enjoy your week and keep your booze strong.