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  • Brian Tasch

April Vermouth Round Up

Updated: Mar 25, 2022

Note: For haters of any of the particular brands here, I urge you to step outside of your insular bubble and remember that vermouth should be fun and approachable. That's all.


This month's vermouth round-up is all Spanish and, spoiler alert, it's all delicious. All of this month's bottles were recommended by Reddit's r/vermouth subreddit, and three of the five were provided by the subreddit's moderator u/Lubberworts. Some of these vermouths exceeded my high expectations and the rest defied them altogether.


What I've concluded over the past couple of years – and these tasty bottlings have reaffirmed – is that Spanish vermouth is some of the most fun you can have with vermouth. With no global historical cocktail legacy to worry about, and, until very recently, no international palates to consider for export, producers have been allowed the freedom to craft some truly adventurous and delicious juice. It honors "Old World" tradition (EU law sees to this), but pushes the boundaries of expectation – much like American vermouth does. In a way, this makes it the best of all worlds.


While not always a 1:1 for your typical dry or sweet vermouth cocktails which traditionally used French or Italian vermouth, I continue to urge all of you out there to explore the category of Spanish vermouth. Of what I've tasted, there is not one Spanish vermouth I wouldn't recommend. This month's first two vermouths from El Bandarra are great places to start your journey.


Reader donations (via the subtle PayPal link at the bottom of the page *wink*) have gone directly toward buying new vermouth to round out these guides. In the past, I've simply updated the tasting notes as I acquire new bottles, but moving forward I'll also be highlighting the fortified wines I pick up in monthly round-ups like this one.


Unlike my tasting guides which are a straightforward resource, this is where I'll dig into and detail how I enjoyed drinking and mixing with each new bottle.

If you're new to the world of vermouth, check out my Introduction to Vermouth post to learn some basics, introduce yourself to some of the terminology used, and get a general overview of how these guides are structured (and why). Then join me back here to get into the details!


El Bandarra Rojo

Origin: Spain

Producer: El Bandarra

ABV: 15%

Wine Base: 50% Macabeo, 50% Xarello

Known Botanicals: at least 50, including wormwood, clove, cinnamon, and bitter orange

Sugar: N/A

Nose: lavender, cherry, lemon, cinchona, raspberry, plum, mint, fig

Palate: wormwood, plum, cherry, lemon, cinchona, rose, cedar, chamomile, blueberry, Chinese rhubarb

Finish: wormwood, plum, cherry, cinchona, mint, lavender, rose, anise, blueberry, cacao

Additional Notes: Deep reddish-brown color. Dry and drying with a medium-light body. Exceptionally floral. Plum and lavender through and through. Works very well in cocktails but seems to have a particular affinity for rum.


On a kitchen counter, a wine glass holds a pour of dark red liquid from the bottle of El Bandarra next to it. The El Bandarra bottle is clear with a white-capped flip-top, with "El Bandarra" written in white script on the side of the clear bottle, words like "olivetes" and "anxoves" cover the rest of the bottle in red, blue, and yellow.

First off, look at these bottles! The design is fun and casual rather than elegant and intimidating. With anything wine-adjacent, foreign words and fancy scripts tend to make most folks' eyes glaze over, but El Bandarra's packaging practically begs for an impulse purchase for your next picnic or house party. Plus, I love the reusability of the bottles themselves.


As for what's in the bottle? If there was ever a vermouth that could get Americans over their apprehension of enjoying aromatized wines beyond cocktail ingredients, it's El Bandarra. Floral, fruity, pleasantly bitter, and not particularly sweet, it's both a perfect gateway vermouth and an incredibly complex offering, even for those who've tasted 130+ vermouths. It worked well in every cocktail application I attempted: Adonis, Negroni, Manhattan, Cobbler, Improved Vermouth Cocktail. It always plays dry but never requires rejiggering. It also seemed to be particularly drawn to rum as a base spirit, as is evident by my depleted supply of El Dorado 12.


El Bandarra Blanco

Origin: Spain

Producer: El Bandarra

ABV: 15%

Wine Base: 50% Garnacha Blanca, 50% Xarello

Known Botanicals: at least 40, including wormwood

Sugar: N/A

Nose: vanilla, mint, cinchona, orange, papaya, lemon, almond, strawberry

Palate: vanilla, wormwood, toasted marshmallow, orange, cinchona, thyme, juniper, candied almonds

Finish: vanilla, wormwood, toasted marshmallow, orange, coffee, cinnamon, ginger, cinchona

Additional Notes: Light straw yellow color. Medium-bodied with a slightly oily texture. Perfectly balanced between the confectionary and bitter. Vanilla and orange dominate the palate. Dilution brings out lots of cream soda notes. More of a ginger heat rather than the expected cinnamon. An absolute delight to sip on its own or in cocktails.

On a kitchen counter, a wine glass holds a pour of pale, straw-yellow liquid from the bottle of El Bandarra next to it. The El Bandarra bottle is clear with a white-capped flip-top, with "El Bandarra" written in white script on the side of the clear bottle, words like "pinchos" and "anchoas" cover the rest of the bottle in red, blue, and yellow.

Right off the bat, I gotta say this is officially one of my new go-to sweet white vermouths for easy mixing. I absolutely love it. It's a tad bit sweeter and slightly more bitter than the Rosso (it's advertised as the sweeter of the two as well), with a wonderful balance of orange, vanilla, and wormwood. If you're thinking "Oh, not ANOTHER sweet white vermouth propping itself up on orange and vanilla," I'll stop you now and say this is one of the most balanced profiles out there on account of the wormwood bite.


This balance makes it a versatile vermouth. It made for two of the best Scofflaw and El Presidente cocktails I've ever had, but truth be told, it was so delicious I mostly consumed it with either soda water or tonic water. I have a feeling this one will be getting a lot of play this summer.


BCN Vermut Ambar Mediterranean Dry

Origin: Spain

Producer: BCN

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: Garnacha Blanca

Known Botanicals: At least 13: wormwood, clove, angelica, cinnamon, orange peel, elderflower, juniper, rosemary, vanilla, laurel, thyme, fennel, pine shoots

Sugar: N/A

Nose: sandalwood, vanilla, myrrh, cinnamon, sage, rose, orange, mint, clove, strawberry

Palate: wormwood, cinnamon, lemon, clove, thyme, fennel, eucalyptus, strawberry, vanilla

Finish: wormwood, eucalyptus, cedar, cinnamon, oregano, orange, vanilla, clove

Additional Notes: Deep copper color. Fortified with brandy distilled from Cariñena and Garnacha Blanca. Medium body. Clove and wormwood dominate from start to finish. Very bitter with a drying, moreish quality. Dilution brings out a lot of vanilla.


BCN is primarily a gin producer, but this recent foray into vermouth makes me think they'll soon be synonymous with this dark dry vermouth. This is one of the most unique and delicious things I have ever tasted. Finding this vermouth in the wild is my new mission in life.

A pale amber-colored martini sits in a Nick & Nora cocktail glass, garnished with a swath of orange peel.

I received a small sample, but it was enough to get the tasting notes of the vermouth itself. The majority of my allotment went to figuring out what exactly I was tasting as it took me a moment to get my head around it.


The remainder went into a Martini because I had to know. 3:1 with Broker's London Dry and a dash of Regan's orange bitters. And guess what? It made for one of the most delicious Martinis I have ever tasted. Peppery and pleasant, it was as dry as you would expect with lots of vanilla, wormwood, and sandalwood. As flavorful as the vermouth is, the gin was still able to shine - each sip was assertive but finished nicely with a hint of vanilla.


BCN Vermut Negre Barrel-Aged Mediterranean Dry

Origin: Spain

Producer: BCN

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: Garnacha Blanca

Known Botanicals: At least 13: wormwood, clove, angelica, cinnamon, orange peel, elderflower, juniper, rosemary, vanilla, laurel, thyme, fennel, pine shoots

Sugar: N/A

Nose: licorice, lemon, cinnamon, butterscotch, sarsaparilla, amaretto, sandalwood, bitter orange, cherry, vanilla, nutmeg

Palate: toffee, cedar, mushroom, wormwood, coffee, lemon, mint, juniper, cinnamon, cherry, white pepper

Finish: cherry, vanilla, cinnamon, toffee, coffee, ash, mushroom, juniper, almond, hay

Additional Notes: Deep red-tinted brown appearance. Barrel-aged between 9 and 12 months. Limited Edition (600-1000 bottles). Fortified with brandy distilled from Cariñena and Garnacha Blanca. Mineral and salinic with a medium-light body. Lots of Dr. Pepper/cherry cola notes with plenty of wormwood and toffee throughout. Reminded me a bit of the profile of amari like Amargo Vallet. Vanilla comes through prominently when mixed.


I'm assuming this is the same vermouth as above, but barrel-aged. As you might expect, the barrel greatly tempers the bitterness. The overall profile shifts from wormwood and clove to wormwood and toffee. Significantly more confectionary and fruitier than the drier, more herbaceous Ambar Mediterranean Dry with additional notes of coffee, butterscotch, and mushroom. It also has a slightly lighter body. I'm grateful to have been able to sample such a rare treat.

A deep, amber-colored liquid sits in a Nick & Nora cocktail glass, garnished with a swath of lemon peel.

This is actually marketed as more of a digestif than an aperitif by importer De Maison Selections, but after the incredible Martini I made with the standard expression, I knew my last 23ml would find its way into another 3:1 Broker's Martini.


It made for a surprisingly delicious dry Martini with the botanical profile of a sweet white or red vermouth. As someone who's never been able to get into Martinis made with sweeter vermouths (even my darling Contratto Bianco isn't bitter enough to balance all that sugar), I absolutely love what this barrel-aged dry vermouth brings to the mix. The result is a bone dry Martini with huge flavors of cherry, cinnamon, vanilla - almost as if it were made with a robust Italian sweet red or even a dark quinquina which had been stripped of their sugar. There's a massive amount of vanilla on the nose which plays nicely with a citrus twist.


Becquer Vermouth de Granacha Gran Reserva

Origin: Spain

Producer: Bodegas Escudero

ABV: 17%

Wine Base: Garnacha

Known Botanicals: at least 40, including wormwood, thyme, and rosemary

Sugar: N/A

Nose: tamarind, pomegranate, clove, bell pepper, clove, chili, grape, brine, Worcestershire, calamansi

Palate: tomato, cinchona, orange, tamarind, cinnamon, balsamic vinegar, lemon, cacao, fig

Finish: tomato, clove, cinnamon, sandalwood, rhubarb, plum, raisin, calamansi

Additional Notes: Deep red-brown color with a medium-light body. The wine is aged for 24 months in American and French barrels, followed by an additional 5 years in a tank. A juicy, umami bomb.


While the last two vermouths used Garnacha Blanca grapes, Becquer uses Garnacha, making it one of few vermouths to use a red grape as its base. The medium-light body leads me to believe the late harvesting of these red grapes provides a good amount of natural, residual sugar eschewing the need for a lot of added sweetener.


One thing I noted was a very fruity, savory, umami-rich profile which reminded me quite a bit of Mattei's line of Corsican quinquinas. Cap Corse quinquina promotes cedrat (aka citron), a Mediterannean citrus fruit with a flavor profile similar to a cross between a lemon and calamansi, as one of their backbone botanicals. I only bring this up because it's the closest I've come to tasting anything quite like this.


Brian's hand holding a red-brown cocktail with a lemon twist in a rocks glass in front of a bookshelf of cocktail and cook books.

I tried it in two sweet red vermouth standards: a Manhattan and a Negroni. The Manhattan was great - perfectly balanced with a nice toasted almond note throughout. The Negroni was exceptional. This juicy, acidic vermouth does wonders at cutting through the heavy sweetness of Campari. Additionally, since it isn't a particularly bitter vermouth, the Campari shouldered the burden of bitterness. Not too sweet, not too bitter, it is perfect in a classic equal parts formula.


The Guides

Check out the individual regional Vermouth guides for more detailed information on regional styles and recommended bottles:


Dry Vermouth


French Dry Vermouth

Italian Dry Vermouth

Spanish Dry Vermouth

American Dry Vermouth

The Complete Guide to Dry Vermouth

Sweet White Vermouth


French Sweet White Vermouth

Italian Sweet White Vermouth

Spanish Sweet White Vermouth

American Sweet White Vermouth

The Complete Guide to Sweet White Vermouth


Sweet Red Vermouth

Italian Sweet Red Vermouth

French Sweet Red Vermouth

Spanish Sweet Red Vermouth

American Sweet Red Vermouth

The Complete Guide to Sweet Red Vermouth

Quinquina and Americano

The Complete Guide to Quinquina and Americano

Please send any updates or corrections to brian@corpserevived.com.

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