"It’s more than a little ironic that Madrid, a city heaving with gin bars, a city where the humble ‘gintonic’, as it is known in Spain, has been elevated to the status of national icon, did not, until fairly recently, have a single distillery on its books, let alone a craft distiller of any note. All this changed in the summer of 2014, when Javier Domínguez and Co fired up Vera, the 280-litre Carl copper still at Santamanía in Las Rozas, Madrid. With this, Madrid’s (and from what we know, Spain’s) first urban distillery was launched.
Santamanía first appeared on our radar thanks to the crew at Four Pillars Gin who had recently collaborated with this grassroots distillery to produce the superb, Cousin Vera’s Gin. We were urged to take a look. We owe the lads at Four Pillars big time. Some months, many nips and a visit to Madrid later, we’re now delighted to be able to offer these proudly Spanish spirits in Australia. The basics: The folks behind Santanmanía are Javier Domínguez, Ramón Morillo and distiller Víctor Fraile. This is one of only five licensed craft distilleries in Spain and it is an absolute trail blazer that had to work through Spain’s bureaucracy for years to get their distillation licence in place. This gave the Santamania team plenty of time to work on the crafting of their spirits. Today the three core spirits offered here are made in one-shot, single batches - distilled using the two on site, custom CARL copper stills called Vera and Lola. First up is the emblematic Madrid Dry Gin, combining predominantly Spanish botanicals with a Spanish Tempranillo grape spirit base; a one of a kind, uniquely Spanish, yet juniper led Gin. Then, there’s the soulful, sepia-tinged Madrid Reserva (matured in a French oak casks for several months) and finally, a premium, unfiltered grape Vodka.
Santamanía have gone to atypical lengths to control every step of the production process and to try to capture as much Spanish character as possible. To this end they source a grape spirit – very unusual for gin producers – distilled from Spanish Tempranillo; a homage to Spain’s tradition with the vine. Santamania’s 96° proof Tempranillo base creates funky magic when run through Vera’s copper still and rectification column, while also delivering a juicer texture than most grain-based gins. Víctor Fraile’s choice of botanicals – all hand sourced and mostly from organic Spanish suppliers – further underlines the two gins’ Iberian roots. And then there’s the water - shipped from the highest geographical point in Spain, the lava caves of Mount Teide, Tenerife. It’s the purest water to be found in Spain and it combines seamlessly with the spirit.
This is a young distillery, but as Gin Foundry notes above, Santanmanía’s spirits are no whimsical distillations. These are some of the most detailed and classy, character-rich white spirits on the market, and they are uniquely Spanish thanks to the ingredients used and the uncompromised, authentic, obsessive (santamaniacal!) approach of the folks behind the scenes. "