I had an opportunity to try another Brandy de Jerez recently. This time it was Terry Centenario. This caught my eye for two reasons. One, it is purportedly the best selling brandy in Spain. Two, the bottle comes wrapped in that netting they use to hang big sausages in the deli.
You know what I'm talking about. Why do they do this? It is so strange. I don't know, but there it is.
So how is Terry Centenario? Not bad. I think that for the price (20+ dollars) it isn't exactly a buy. I liked it, especially as the ice melted. The flavors were good, but it is still short of the standard bearer Veterano.
Funny, I was told that bodega Terry also makes Fundador, the worst tasting Brandy de Jerez I've had. I guess those Terry folk aren't all bad.
Still, it is almost worth it just for the bottle. It seems like something the Most Interesting Man in the World would drink when he's not drinking Dos Equis (he doesn't always drink beer). Stilling around in his den with a cigar and a snifter of brandy...
File photo of Mr. Booze thirty years from now.
Also, I'd like to take this moment to criticize Spanish brandy makers for doing a very poor job at branding and marketing their product. Most booze genres depend on a strong flag bearer in order to raise the status of all the spirits. Take for example Scotch. Your entry level Scotch is Johnnie Walker, and it is priced at the standard bearer entry level price: about 20 bucks for a fifth. You can find it in every bar and liquor store. It sets the example for the brand and it is a good representative. It is smooth and free of harsh rubbing alcohol notes and fusel oils. You know that if you go cheaper you run the risk of rotgut. You can branch out into different blends and reach different flavors that may be more to your liking, but it is a deviation from the flag bearer. The same thing is true of Irish whiskey. Your standard bearer is Jameson, a solid whiskey all around that costs about 20 bucks and sets the tone of Irish whiskey's flavor and Irish whiskey as a brand. As Jameson's fortunes have risen, so too has it raised all Irish whiskey. I could go on about the entry level American whiskey (Jack Daniels) or Bourbon (Jim Beam) or single malt Scotch (Glenfiddich), but I think you get the point.
So is there a standard Spanish brandy? The closest is Fundador, which I think is terrible. It is the most widely available in stores. But it isn't any good, and that is probably doing more to hurt Brandy de Jerez in US markets than the lack of ad campaign funds. What I think Spanish brandy needs is a good flag bearer to run some good ads and try and break into the US market a little. But it must cost about 20 bucks for a fifth and be a good representative of the genre as a whole. I think the best fit would be Veterano because it is so smooth and drinkable. Centenario is a decent brandy and could go a lot further than Fundador. They also need a good way of branding themselves. What sort of identity can Spanish brandy represent? Should they go for the sophisticated market? The cigar bar crowd? A hip alternative to Cognac? Or the everyman brandy, the Joe Sixpack's brandy for those summer afternoons relaxing by the barbecue? Probably not the latter but I'm not in charge of PR.
Note to the Spanish bodegas: put me in charge of your PR. I will basically run The Most Interesting Man in the World commericals for you, but with a different guy and less silly. You will sell a lot more. Thanks.