Spanish Sweet Red Vermouth Tasting Guide
Updated: Jun 26, 2022
Spanish vermouth is often overlooked in the bar and cocktail world, despite its undisputed popularity in Spain.
Spanish vermouths tend to be on the drier side – and salinic to boot – as a result of their typically sherry wine base. Spanish sweet vermouths usually taste more confectionary than herbaceous, contain less sugar than Italian vermouths, and are almost always 15% ABV.
The most widely consumed Spanish vermouths are produced in the Reus region, though Vermouth de Reus is not currently a designation recognized by the EU.
Some of my favorite Spanish sweet red vermouths are the perfectly balanced Atxa Rojo and the confectionery, almost Cocci di Torino like Lacuesta Rojo. Ultimately, every bottle on this list is well worth the purchase, though some lend themselves better for mixing than others.
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!
Wine Grapes: Airen
Known Botanicals: at least 6, including wormwood, gentian, licorice, and cherry
Nose: vanilla, coriander, sea salt, oregano, cherry, orange, clove, bubblegum, cinnamon
Palate: vanilla, cinnamon, wormwood, cherry, orange, licorice, fig, marjoram
Finish: vanilla, wormwood, cinnamon, cherry, clove, orange, nutmeg
Additional Notes: Amber color. Dilution brings out bitter, herbaceous notes.
Barbadillo Ataman Vermut
Producer: Bodegas Barbadillo
Wine Base: Palomino Fino
Known Botanicals: at least 5, wormwood, cinnamon, bitter orange, elderberry, rosemary
Sugar: 140 g/l
Nose: vanilla, cinnamon, apple cider, cacao, cinchona, roasted peanut, cherry, nutmeg, musty
Palate: wormwood, cinchona, vanilla, orange, lemon, cinnamon, black cherry, cacao, tobacco, acidic
Finish: wormwood, cinchona, vanilla, cacao, coffee, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, black cherry
Additional Notes: Red tinted mahogany color. Medium-light body with an oily salinity. Bitter and acidic. A prominent quinine bite makes for a vermouth which almost straddles the line into quinquina. An amazing vermouth.
Becquer Vermouth de Granacha Gran Reserva
Producer: Bodegas Escudero
Wine Base: Garnacha
Known Botanicals: at least 40, including wormwood, thyme, and rosemary
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.
Casa Mariol Vermut Negre
Producer: Casa Mariol
Wine Base: Macabeu
Known Botanicals: at least 2 – wormwood and green walnuts
Nose: banana, strawberry, cola, sarsaparilla, date, oregano, apple, clove, cinnamon, caramel, black cherry
Palate: cinnamon, vanilla, cherry, nutmeg, wormwood, birch, cola, peach, lemon, cocoa, pear
Finish: vanilla, cinchona, cinnamon, nutmeg, pear, dark chocolate, nectarine, peach
Additional Notes: Mahogany tinted brown. Solera aged. Light bodied. Dilution brings out a lot of stone fruit. Tastes like pie.
El Bandarra Rojo
Producer: El Bandarra
Wine Base: 50% Macabeo, 50% Xarello
Known Botanicals: at least 50, including wormwood, clove, cinnamon, and bitter orange
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.
Gonzalez Byass Rojo
Wine Base: Palomino, Pedro Ximenez
Known Botanicals: at least 9, including wormwood, savory, clove, orange peel, nutmeg, cinnamon, angelica, and cinchona
Sugar: 141 g/l
Nose: bubblegum, vanilla, rose, cedar, clove, oregano, orange, strawberry, banana
Palate: cinnamon, clove, black pepper, gentian, banana, strawberry, fig, raisin, licorice, cranberry
Finish: cinnamon, clove, fig, nutmeg, vanilla, cranberry, fennel, orange
Additional Notes: Reddish-brown color. Pleasant body. Confectionary. Reminded me of egg nog on the palate.
La Baronia de Turis 13:30
Producer: Baronia de Turis
Wine Base: Malvasia
Known Botanicals: wormwood
Nose: cinnamon, sage, sea salt, gentian, orange, dried apricot, straw, clove, black tea, poppy
Palate: vanilla, gentian, honey, lemon, chamomile, black tea, tannic, cinnamon, cinchona
Finish: vanilla, chamomile, orange, gentian, cinnamon, lemon
Additional Notes: Mahogany/orange color. Reminded me a bit of an Arnold Palmer: heavy on black tea and lemon notes.
Producer: Bodegas Martinez Lacuesta
Wine Base: N/A
Known Botanicals: at least 5, including wormwood, vanilla, chamomile, and gentian
Sugar: 128 g/l
Nose: raisin, walnut fig, orange vanilla, almond, sherry, dates
Palate: black cherry, gentian, raisin, cacao, walnut, orange, vanilla, lemon, apple
Finish: raisin, cacao, vanilla, apple, toffee, lemon, strawberry, cherry, gentian
Additional Notes: Deep amber color. Light bodied, confectionary, fruity, pleasantly bitter, and acidic. Fantastic however you choose to enjoy it.
Wine Base: Palomino (80%), Pedro Ximenez (20%)
Known Botanicals: at least 10, including wormwood, coriander, gentian, angelica, orange peel, sage, cinnamon, and cinchona bark
Sugar: 155 g/l
Nose: sea salt, raisin, currant, coriander, prune, orange, bark, mushroom
Palate: cinchona, gentian, cinnamon, concord grape, plum sweet red grape, citrus peel, plum
Finish: cinchona, gentian, walnut, cream sherry, cinnamon, vanilla
Additional Notes: Mahogany color. Velvety mouthfeel.
Producer: Mata, imported by Ole & Obrigado
Wine Base: 90% Mencía, 10% Godello
Known Botanicals: at least 21 including wormwood, wall germander, blessed thistle, centaury, hyssop, sage, hops, clove, elderflower, saffron, star anise, bitter orange peel, cardamom, coriander seed, vanilla, elecampane, gentian, ceylon cinnamon, croton bark, cinchona, pomegranate bark
Nose: thyme, red wine, raspberry, earthy and mild
Palate: cinchona, blackberry, orange, cinnamon, red wine, tannic
Finish: lemon, blackberry, vanilla, cacao, sour cherry
Additional Notes: Very dark red-tinted brown. Medium body. Sweetened with grape must. Fortified with neutral grape distillate. Botanicals are macerated in base wine for 18 months before filtration and fortification. One of those rare sweet red vermouths actually made from primarily red wine. Perfectly balanced between bitter, herbs, and spice with pleasant acidity and prominent bittereness.
Wine Base: 75% Airen, 25% Maccabeo
Known Botanicals: wormwood
Nose: cinnamon, raisin, plum, brown sugar, gentian, lemon, mint, sandalwood, vanilla, black pepper
Palate: cacao, cinnamon, vanilla, gentian, wormwood, mint, clove, orange, black cherry, raisin
Finish: vanilla, black cherry, lemon, white pepper, oregano, mint, cacao, clove
Additional Notes: Cola brown color. Vermouth de Reus designation. Medium-light body and relatively dry – doesn't stick to the palate and isn't particularly bitter. Lots of baking spice. Fruity and surprisingly juicy with some faint smokey wood notes.
Otto's Athen's Vermouth
Producer: See Additional Notes
Wine Base: Roditis (60%), Savatiano (40%)
Known Botanicals: at least 7, wormwood, rose petals, olive leaves, lemon, oregano, kumquat, angelica
Sugar: 120-130 g/
Nose: cinnamon, lemon, wormwood, rose, cherry, vanilla, clove, sandalwood, mint, prune
Palate: cinnamon, rhubarb, mint, prune, orange, vanilla, wormwood, juniper, cedar, gentian
Finish: rhubarb, vanilla, orange, cinnamon, mint, cinchona, honey, clove, poppy, rose
Additional Notes: Dull red color which reminded me of oxidized strawberry. Medium, oily body. A big cherry/vanilla cola bomb with a floral rose note on the nose and finish. Distilled and bottled in Greece by Optimal Supply Chain under the authority of DS Concepts LTD as a collaboration with award winning Athens bar The Clumsies.
Perucchi Rojo Gran Reserva
Wine Base: N/A
Known Botanicals: wormwood
Sugar: 126 g/l
Nose: clove, vanilla, cinnamon, banana, walnut, orange, pear, rose, marjoram
Palate: lemon, wormwood, raisin, cinnamon, clove, cinchona, star anise, orange
Finish: cinchona, wormwood, raisin, cinnamon, clove, charcoal
Additional Notes: Mahogany color. Very light body. Drying, bitter finish. Claims to be the oldest vermouth producer in Spain.
Primitivo Quiles Rojo
Producer: Primitivo Quiles
Wine Base: Mourvedre/Monastrell
Known Botanicals: at least 4 – wormwood, fennel, sage, and clove
Nose: lemon, banana, yeasty, green apple, clove, vanilla, menthol, tobacco, oregano
Palate: cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, orange, wormwood, lemon, cinchona, raisin, balsamic, banana, cherry, apple
Finish: cinnamon, ginger, sea salt, vanilla, nutmeg, wormwood, raisin, green apple
Additional Notes: Amber color. Smells like a Belgian beer. Dilution brings out lots of apple. A fairly dry expression.
Priorat Natur Vermut
Producer: Priorat Natur
Wine Base: Macabeo, Pedro Ximenez, Grenache Blanc
Known Botanicals: at least 6 – wormwood, fennel, rosemary, cumin, vanilla, and cinnamon
Nose: thyme, lemon, sea salt, cumin, orange, fennel, oregano, tobacco
Palate: lemon, juniper, thyme, vanilla, cinchona, orange, plum, cinnamon, apple cider
Finish: wormwood, lemon, cinchona, gentian, juniper, cranberry, melon rind, dates
Additional Notes: Pink tinted orange color. Light body. Bright, bitter, and citrusy.
Txurrut Basque Vermut
Wine Base: Hondarrabi Zuri
Known Botanicals: at least 20, wormwood, fennel, juniper, vanilla, walnut, rose petal
Nose: sandalwood, cinnamon, vanilla, cinchona, raisin, ginger
Palate: cinchona, rhubarb, cinnamon, vanilla, orange, lemon, cedar, fig, cherry
Finish: cinchona, clove, vanilla, orange, raisin, rhubarb, ash, licorice, sea salt
Additional Notes: Reddish-brown appearance. Bright, racy acidity with quinine bitterness on the palate. Medium body with some salinity and minerality most prominent on the finish. Dilution highlights the cinchona, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Producer: Vinos de Terruños
Wine Base: Muscatel, Merseguera
Known Botanicals: wormwood
Nose: pear, cinnamon, cedar, bay leaf, orange, vanilla, rose, white pepper, rhubarb, banana
Palate: cinchona, pear, lemon, cinnamon, licorice, tobacco, tarragon, sage, rhubarb
Finish: cinchona, raisin, currant, tobacco, cinnamon, eucalyptus, pear, rhubarb, coffee
Additional Notes: Rich mahogany color. Savory, smokey, and spicy with a pronounced rhubarb bitterness similar to Cappelletti Sfumato Rabarbaro Amaro. Very light body, dries out quickly. Doesn't hold up particularly well in cocktails.
Notably missing: Miro Rojo and Yzaguirre Rojo. Will accept donations of any missing vermouths.
Check the individual regional Vermouth guides for more detailed information on regional styles and recommended bottles:
Sweet White Vermouth
Sweet Red Vermouth
Quinquina and Americano
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