The Solera System- Recipe: The Spanish Attic

The Solera system (as it is called in Spain) is a finishing and blending technique to develop flavors of Sherry. By reserving a portion of a barrels older contents, you add the younger product in. This infuses the younger spirit or wine with a touch of the older more developed product, giving layer upon layer of development and character to the final product. 

Imagine a pyramid of barrels stacked, with those closer to the ground being the oldest. When the most mature batches are ready for bottling, a portion of the contents are left in the cask. Then, the barrels from above are used to top off the lower barrels, with a portion of contents left inside, and the process is repeated with each layer until the top barrel is filled with new batch. This is very labor intensive, no barrel is ever emptied completely, and very little product in the Solera system will be bottled for each cycle.

That means, each year the Solera is in cycle, the output has a higher concentration of older and older product. It could contain portions of 3 year old and 20 year old Sherry in the same vessel. I imagine this takes an extraordinary amount of organization and care. Enjoying these Lustau Solera Reserva products makes me respect the process even more.

Now that you know a little about the Solera system, you will have a deeper appreciation for the Lustau Brandy and Sherry products used for my recipe: The Spanish Attic

Full Recipe and Inspiration can be found on the Chilled Magazine Site


Eau de Vie - "Water of Life" and the Trou Normond

Eau de Vie literally translates in French to "Water of Life". Despite being derived from fruit, this subtly flavored brandy is very alcohol forward. Typically clear, and not aged in casks, some common flavors include: apple, pear, peach, fig, and yellow plum.  When I lived in Toulouse, the cutest little old man living next to us had an annual release of his home made Figue Eau de Vie with figs straight out of his yard. It had an almost lavender-esque nose, strong burn in your chest, and left you with a warm tingling sensation on your scalp afterwards. My host family kept a bottle on hand for every special occasion.

You may be familiar with its aged counterpart, Calvados, which you can have a shot of with your morning coffee along "The Cider Route" in Normandy, France. Funnily enough, ordering a side of calvados with your coffee is cheaper than ordering a calvados by itself. This is because only the locals know about this, and keeping the prices down help to continue the rich cultural tradition.

During French meals, which have a considerable number of courses, if you are starting to feel full you have a digestif, or "Trou Normond".

Learn more about the "Trou Normond" in my interview with Joshua Caine Media here

In the US, this spirit is considerably less popular. However, there is one distillery here in Portland keeping the tradition alive and well. They even produce the rare "Pear grown in the bottle" variety, of which I got to taste from an ICE LUGE. Fan-fuckin-tastic. Now I just need to figure out how to put this on tap in my house.

Meet Clear Creek Distillery, who celebrated their 30th Anniversary Party in May 2016. According to their website: 

"Clear Creek Distillery was founded in 1985 with a vision to use the bountiful fruits of the Pacific Northwest to create fruit-based spirits that rivaled the best of their European counterparts. Using old-world techniques and sourcing ingredients from the local orchards and fresh water springs of Mount Hood in the Oregon countryside, Clear Creek became one of the first craft distilleries in the United States."

Here are some photos from the 30th Anniversary event, where guests enjoyed craft cocktails with this tantalizing spirit. Enjoy!