barcelona spanish brandy

Spanish brandy's push for domestic appeal

28 October, 2021

The adoption of local produce has been one of the biggest trends within the global drinks industry over the past few years, particularly in the on-trade where the influence of sustainability has encouraged consumers to look closer to home for their drinking choices.

However, for Spanish brandy this isn’t so much the case. From recent experience, at most off-licences in the young, cosmopolitan area of El Raval in Barcelona, bottles of Spanish brandy are gathering dust in the corner while gins and whiskies sit centre stage. In the major international supermarket chains such as Lidl and Carrefour, it barely exists, and even in many of the city’s best bars it’s difficult to find. 

According to a report by Expatica, Spain had the highest number of bars and restaurants per head in the world pre-Covid – around one per 175 inhabitants. But right now the drinking culture is very much focused around beer, wine and gin & tonic. 

Alfredo Pernia, founder of Solange bar, which sits almost opposite the famed Dry Martini in the Eixample region of Barcelona, says the younger generations of Spain don’t appreciate local products as much as they should. Pernia’s bar has four shelves full of the world’s most prestigious spirits while just one bottle of Torres 10 sits almost out of sight. Pernia cites the huge popularity of G&Ts as one of the major reasons for Spanish brandy’s lack of domestic action, while also suggesting that brands don’t seem very interested in activating in local markets. 

Familia Torres, based in Vilafranca del Penedès, just west of Barcelona, is trying hard to change this attitude. The brand has a huge international following and is currently the top- trending and bestselling brandy in Drinks International’s Annual Brands Report, which takes its data from the top 100 bars in the industry. Its popularity is high in Mexico, Russia and Lithuania, among other countries, yet the producer still has a desire to revive domestic consumption. 

Christian Visalli, global spirits director at Familia Torres, believes the new generation of local drinkers could play a key role in a domestic renaissance for the category. “Nobody likes to drink what their parents did, and because the baby boomers were so obsessed with gin, we see an opportunity with younger consumers to take up local brandy.” 

Earlier this year Torres released Alta Luz, the first ever ‘cristalino’ or crystalline brandy made in Barcelona, which has been developed specifically for the on-trade. The brandy undergoes double distillation and ageing in French oak as normal, until it goes through a mineral filtration process which strips away the colour without affecting the maturity and flavour of the product. Torres launched Alta Luz in its biggest market, Mexico, but Visalli insists that Spain remains a priority market too. 

Javier Reynoso, spirits global brand ambassador at Torres, says that pre- Covid the brand was doing up to four activations in Spanish bars a week, but admitted that since the pandemic it’s currently just the one. “Spain isn’t our biggest market for brandy, but every time we host a masterclass we get a great response, so I can definitely see Spanish brandies returning in domestic markets sooner rather than later.” 

Digital Edition

Drinks International digital edition is available ahead of the printed magazine. Don’t miss out, make sure you subscribe today to access the digital edition and all archived editions of Drinks International as part of your subscription.


La'Mel Clarke

Service isn’t servitude: the skill of hosting

La’Mel Clarke, front of house at London’s Seed Library, looks at the forgotten art of hosting and why it deserves the same respect as bartending.