The world of Spanish wines

Spanish spirits and liquors

When you think of Spanish drinks you automatically think of Spanish wine and while it is true that the Spanish may have a way with wine, it that does not mean that is the only type of alcoholic beverage that they produce. Spain is also home to a rich variety of spirits and liquors as well as wine, which means that it is the perfect place for all those who a love a drink - whether you are into wine, brandy, rum or gin - Spain is the place for you.

Did you know that Spain also produces spirits from local plants such as anís as well as some more common drinks such as brandy and rum? However they can't pull away from the fact that they have so many vineyards, which also led to another spirit being produced, known as licor de orujo.

History of Distilled Beverages in Spain

Distillation is a process that was first developed by the Ancient Greeks in the first few centuries A.D. where it had originally been developed for alchemy purposes. The people of Arabic regions also began developing their own versions of the process. It is thanks to them that the process arrived in Spain.

When the Moors invaded Spain, they brought all manner of new technologies to the Iberian peninsular, one of which was the copper still which was called the alambique. By this time, the Spanish were already growing grapes and were making wine with ease. The Moors only used their stills for creating medicines and perfumes, as their religious beliefs forbade them from drinking alcohol. However with the passing of time, people realised that stronger alcohols could be created via the distillation process. That is how Spanish spirits and liquors were born.

Some of the first Spanish liquors to be made used one of the country's most common ingredients - grapes. Grapes were in abundance in Spain and so people began experimenting with the fruit and distillation. In fact, one of the oldest liquors in Spain, licor de Orujo, is made from grape must. They also began distilling the wine itself which gave rise to brandy.

As time went by, new crops and ingredients began to make their appearance in Spain, particularly after the discovery of the Americas by Columbus. Ingredients such as sugarcane made it to the Iberian peninsular which helped in the development of Spanish rum which is still being made today despite the lack of sugarcane plantations in Spain.

Some of the other spirits from Spain were inspired by the original versions from elsewhere. For example, the gin that can be found on the island of Menorca was actually influenced by the gin was drunk in Great Britain, which in turn was influence by the jenever of the Netherlands. Despite this, the Spanish always bring their own unique touch to the drinks.

It can therefore be said that both the people who occupied Spain, and the adventurous nature of the Spanish themselves helped to develop and enrich the Spanish alcohol sector. So make sure you don't just think of Spanish wine, but of the Spanish alcohol industry when you visit Spain.

Of course, today, many of these spirits are not as well known as the Spanish wines, mainly because they are usually restricted to small areas, or even, to one particular town. This means that appreciating these Spanish spirits and liquors can mean visiting much more out of the ordinary places. If you do want to find out more about these drinks, you can always visit the local factories that produce them. However, it is often that case that such places will not have tours in other languages apart from Spanish so we suggest that you take some Spanish classes before embarking on your Spanish alcohol quest.

If you're palate is craving for something different or you have a thirst that our sections on Spanish wine can't quench, why not check out our pages on the diverse types of beverages that Spain produce by clicking on the links below:

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