Spirit Review: Atxa Pacharan Sierra De Orduna
Whenever you travel overseas, do a quick bit of research and try and find if there is a local specialty liqueur or distilled spirit. Not only is it a great way to tipple some of the local flavor, it is something you can later have at home and be reminded of your travels. On a trip to Barcelona a few years ago, we were lucky enough to wonder into a tapas restaurant selling Pacharan (also called Patxaran). For around five euros, we had a glass of Pacharan with a piece of slightly sweet blueberry bread. It was a wonderful way to end a great meal in a great city. Upon returning to America, we asked our local wine shop to find us some Pacharan, which is how Atxa came into our orbit. To be clear, nothing will beat sidewalk dining on a Barcelona, but this will have to do.
What is Pacharan? It is a distilled spirit (usually unaged brandy) which is then macerated for several months with sloe berries and anise, with some recipes using coffee beans and cinnamon pods for extra flavor. Sloe berries are also used to make English sloe gin, which many people have an aversion to only having tasted the 80s artificial syrupy drink. Made correctly, it is a great spirit, clocking in around 30% ABV and used in several great cocktails. Pacharan, on the other hand, is drunk alone chilled or on ice as a digestif. It is very popular in the Basque regions, and can be found readily elsewhere in Spain. It dates from the Middle Ages and was used, like most spirits of the time, as a medicinal and digestive aid. Many restaurants (including the one we visited) make their own Pacharan to serve in house.
Atxa has been making Pacharan since 1831 with fruit from the Artomana Valley. The base liquor has been distilled five times, macerated with anise, distilled again, and them combined with base spirit macerated with sloe berries and finally sweetened with sugar.
Maroon in color on the pour. Light floral aroma, wonderful taste of plum with a backseat of anise. If you dislike licorice, still give this spirit this a chance, as the anise is subdued and no black licorice in any respect. Semi-dry. Long finish, fresh and crisp. It is recommended that you drink the spirit chilled or with just one ice cube to avoid excessively watering down your drink.
Spirit: Pacharan Sierra De Orduna
From: Atxa, Alava, Spain
Rating: 92 pts