Sherry is the best-known liquor produced by Spain; in fact, all of the world’s sherry comes from a small triangle-shaped region in the southern area of Spain called Andalusia. But it’s not the only spirit the country produces. Spain’s other liquors are usually highly regional and may be hard to find in the U.S. A wine importer specializing in Spanish vintages or a liquor store with a large international stock may be your best bets.
Technically speaking, sherry is a fortified wine — that is, extra alcohol is added to it during the fermentation and aging process. Sherries are aged in barrels and blended with vintages of differing ages to produce a specific, uniform product. Different aging techniques produce different types of sherry. Dry and briny fino should be chilled and served with salty snacks, olives, artichokes and asparagus. Light and bright manzanilla should also be chilled, and pairs well with seafood. Amontillado sherry has a nutty quality that matches well with mushrooms, and with pork and chicken and fish dishes. The dry oloroso style complements pork belly, red meat and game. Sherry can also be sweet; this style is served as a dessert wine.
Anis, as the name implies, is the Spanish version of a licorice-flavored liquor more familiarly known as anisette. Anis del Mono, the most well-regarded variety, is produced in Catalonia. Use it mixed with water or in any cocktail where you would feature anisette; you can also try it as a substitute for pastis or even absinthe.
Orujo is a distilled liquor produced in the northern Spanish region of Galicia from grape skins; in this respect it is similar to grappa. The South American liquor pisco was developed as a replacement for Spanish orujo, and the latter can be used in cocktails as a pisco substitute.
Gin Xoriguer originates on the Spanish island of Menorca. This was a favored stop for British sailors, and they brought their taste in liquor with them. A single distillery in Menorca imports juniper berries and combines them with alcohol distilled from grapes to produce this unique artisanal twist on gin. It can be used in the same manner as any other gin, as in a martini or gin and tonic. Serve these gin cocktails with smoked salmon and sliced cucumbers, shrimp or satay.
Rum is most closely associated with the Caribbean, but several varieties are produced in Spain as well — in fact, there is some evidence that rum production began on the Spanish peninsula first. The best-known brand, Ron Palido Montero, is a premium rum produced in a single distillery in Motril, Spain. This rum is produced by traditional means from sugar cane; it is golden in hue, medium in body and smooth in taste. Spanish rums can be used in the same manner as other quality rums. Serve with fine chocolate for a classy dessert course.
References and ResourcesWine Enthusiast: Sherry Bomb
The Kitchn: Why Sherry Is So Extraordinary
Spanish Wines: Licor de Orujo
CocktailDB.com: Anis del Mono
Pisco Bar: Pisco -- What It Is and Why We Drink It
Gin Xoriguer: Origins
Rum Gallery: Montero Gran Reserva
G&T July: Foods to Enjoy with Gin and Tonic
Difford's Guide: The Hidden History of Spanish Rum