BODEGAS YZAGUIRRE Reus, Spain
Founded in 1884, by Enrique de Yzaguirre, this is the oldest brand of Spanish Vermouth still in production today. The recipes of Enrique de Yzaguirre are now in the hands of the Salla-Solé Family, who maintain the exact same traditional methods and exclusive formulas that are the secret to their flavours and aromas. The Bodega sources its ingredients from its own winery in El Morell, in the DO Costers del Segre, and they follow a meticulous production process to make a range of Yzaguirre vermouths from the most select grape varieties and their secret blends of herbs and spices.
History of Vermouth
Vermouth is an aromatized, fortified wine, with its origins in 18th century Turin, Italy. Flavoured with various roots, barks, flowers, seeds, herbs and spices, it was used for medicinal purposes. The name comes from the French pronunciation of an Old German word for wormwood, wermut, which was one of the key ingredients in early renditions and used to be used to treat parasites and to stimulate the appetite. From Italy, the vermouth recipes and traditions quickly proliferated to France and Spain. Over time, two distinct versions of vermouth became established, one pale, dry, and bitter, and the other red and sweeter (red vermouth actually gets its reddish tint from the addition of caramelized sugar or molasses, not from barrel aging). The use of vermouth as a medicinal liquor waned by the end of the 18th century, but its use as an aperitif increased in Italy and France. The advent of the cocktail, in the late 19th century, found a new use for vermouth.
The most famous Spanish vermouth traditionally comes from Reus, in Catalonia, the heart of Spanish vermouth for well over a century. Overall, Spanish vermouths are vastly different from their Italian cousins. Spanish reds are lighter and less bitter and taste sweeter (even though they typically contain 25 to 30 percent less sugar than the Italian rossos) and show predominate flavors of orange and Mediterranean herbs. Today, Vermouth has enjoyed a resurgence and is considered a way of life in Spain. Fer el vermut is the Catalan phrase literally meaning “to do the vermouth,” and is now a catch-all saying used to convey an afternoon drink and snack with friends (paired with tapas like olives or some hard cheese). Not just for cocktails, here, it comes served on the rocks or with a spritz of soda water and garnished with a skewered green olive or citrus twist.