Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Vermut Atamán 17%, Bodegas Barbadillo

Deep brown mahogany fading to amber with copper glints.
Forthcoming and complex with pronounced sweet notes of caramel, orange peel, brown sugar and Oloroso and background traces of raisin, mint, menthol, eucalyptus, wormwood and quinine. It has elements of both Jerez Quina or even Ponche but there's more to it with all those botanicals. It seems fairly straightforward at first but quickly develops all sorts of nuances as it opens out
Quite sweet and fairly fruity initially with orange notes until the bitterness kicks in pushing the sweetness into the background and delivering quite a drying, bitter punch with loads of quinine and wormwood in contrast to the sweet luscious texture. A fantastic sweet ying and bitter yang balance makes it very stylish - and moreish - with great length, and it is lovely chilled on its own or mixed in all sorts of drinks. As Eddie Cochran would have said, "it's something else".
An Ataman is a Cossack leader or fighting horseman of the Caucasus where Russia meets Turkey, and perhaps this fierceness has something in common with the name of the brand. Certainly those at the bodega nowadays can find no reason for Manuel Barbadillo to choose this name for the brand he launched in 1943. After over four decades languishing in butts and demijohns at the firm's Angioletti and El Toro bodegas, it has now been re-launched, on the 75th anniversary or the original launch, as Barbadillo's unique contribution to the Vermouth revival. First the bodega launched tiny quantities of the original in half bottles (at 50 euros each) but has now launched a new version. Since the original recipe has disappeared, a lot of work has gone in to recreate the vermouth, which is sold using the original logo. It is made from a base of Manzanilla and Oloroso infused with a secret mix of herbs and botanicals which include wormwood, cassia (a kind of cinnamon), bitter orange peel, rosemary and elderberries, macerated in butts. Only small batches of 1,500 bottles are being released. It is a little more bitter than most vermouths and could almost be called a bitters, so it has infinite mixing and cocktail potential.
14,95 per 50cl, De Albariza

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