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Feb 3, 2005 01:33 PM

Portugese Aguardiente - Grappa at 1/4 the Price

  • s

I recently had the pleasure of sampling some Portugese Aguardiente at a local restaurant and was impressed by how tasty it was, and what a dead ringer it was for fine Italian Grappa.

I suppose Marc is Marc is Marc.

So I stopped by a local Portugese liquor store to see what they had. They had several to chose from, all at the (brace yourself) exhorbitant price of $15-17 a liter. The one I picked out was "Aged" for one year.

If you are a Grappa fan, you gotta try this stuff. It is every bit as good as the finest grappa. I want to dash back to the store and try them all before they figure it out.

A comparable Grappa would be $40-80 a bottle these days. Jacopo Poli - Grappa Barrique aged Rsv is $79.99 for 750ml.

I suppose this is what buying Grappa was like 30 years ago when it was crusty old guys drinking and it had not gotten so trendy.

Jacopo Poli eat your heart out.

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  1. k
    Krys Stanley

    Thanks for the tip. I am going to be in a Portuguese liquor store next week and will check it out.

    One of the things I like about Portuguese wines is that it is so afforable. There may not be the highs of some of the best French, California, etc, wines, but it is fine drinking wine.

    I have yet to hit a bad bottle of Portugese table wine with my highest priced bottle topping out at $9 and most bottles running in the $3 - $6 range. For that price, most California wines are swill.

    There seems to be a total lack of pretension in these wines. It seems like the Portugese want a nice glass of pleasant, drinkable wine with their meals.

    So, I am not surprised about the cost of the Aguardiente. Thanks again for the tip.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Krys Stanley

      On the Portugese wine note. While at the liquor store I saw the wine I usually get at my favorite Portugese restaurant, Monte Velho. Now I pay $20 a bottle at the restaurant, which I always thought was a steal.

      At the liquor store it was a nearly embarassing $7.49.

    2. a

      Hey Striper, please post shopping details on the Boston board. I don't want to guess, parking is still too awful. Tx.

      1. I was staring at your post in disbelief for awhile thinking it was the same unholy stuff a Colombian chef I used to know would sneak into the kitchen on Friday nights. Turns out I was thinking of Aquaneta (sp?), a kerosene-like brandy-like potable that many-a-night would lay siege to my friend, a skinny little CIA grad from Worcester who was briefly roomies with this guy and his Colombian brother.

        1. k
          Krys Stanley

          Well, this got confusing when I started to look up more about this drink on the web. The one thing I know is that it is spelled aguardente in Portugal and aguardiente (with an i) in Spain. Although that didn’t seem to matter in a lot of web sites.

          Also, it seems aguardente can be a rum like liquor made of sugar cane, a Portuguese brandy or a grappa like liquor made of the fermented grape husks left from the wine-making process.

          The sugar cane type seems to be popular through Central and South America, although it seems it was introduced there by the Portuguese.

          This website talks about the different types of brandies or fruit distillates - cognac, armagnac, grappa, marc, bagaceira, eau-de-vie (kirsch, poire Williams, Calvados). It describes the Portuguese Aguardente Bagaceira Paraiso as “Clear and colorless, from the Bairrada region, it has the typical nose of marc - aromatic with hay and slight spiciness that follows through in the taste. Silky smooth with clean purity.”

          It also describes two other Portuguese brandies, Maciera Royal Brandy and Aliança Velha. I’m so confused at this point I’m not sure if they are aguardentes.

          The Portuguese grappa version seems to be made in November.

          I found the lovely picture below of Galician homemade aguardientes on, of all places, Chowhound. Here’s the link to the special report which has a little more info on the Spanish version.

          The link below mentions Bagaceira Velha Aveleda which sounds wonderful. Being confused about this brandy/grappa/rum thing with this liquor I’m not sure if the Adega Velha is also an aguardiente.

          So, anyway if you see the words aguardente and Portugal on a bottle, it seems like it could be anything. It seemed aguardiente originally meant rum while it now could be any distilled liquor.



          3 Replies
          1. re: Krys Stanley

            At our local Portuguese restaurant, there are indeed 2 types of what they call aguardente - a brandy colored, fairly sweet one and a clear one that is much more similar to grappa and much more palatable, to me anyway. They also refer to it as something like "Bam!" presumably for its potency.

            1. re: Krys Stanley

              I am pretty sure the one I have (I don't have the bottle in front of me) was an Aguardente Bagaceira Velha from the Bairrada region.

              1. re: Krys Stanley

                The aguardiente made from cane juice is pretty popular stuff from Mexico through South America.

                I don't know if aguardiente was introduced by Potuguese or Spaniards; however, it's worth noting that the stuff is largely called cachaca in the one former Potuguese colony, whereas it's called aguardiente in Spanish-speaking Latin America. Of course, the pomace brandy (like grappa and marc) of South America is Pisco, used in the Peruvuan bebida nacional, Pisco Sour. Doesn't get much cheaper than Pisco.