Handle The Proof: Fundador

Sometime in our youth, however well spent, we picked up on the existence of Cognac. Maybe it was from ads in Sports Illustrated, or something--it's not like anyone really remembers when or in what context; the awareness just happened. Maybe in our 20s we learned about Armagnac. But this information came to us through some long forgotten conversation with a snooty friend or a liquor store clerk.

But just about everyone who grew up before Baby Boomers became parents (and then PTA members) and destroyed the literary canon, remembers precisely where they first encountered Fundador.

That's right--Hemingway.

The same novel that introduced Americans to Pamplona, expatriate life and the aftereffects of emasculation--The Sun Also Rises--told us about the historic brandy de Jerez brand.

Spain's sherry houses distill brandy from grapes and age the resulting spirit according to the "solara" method--racking it from one barrel to the next in portions, thus smoothing out the finished product and shaving time from the natural maturation process. This is brandy de Jerez, and the first barrel in some of the finer lines may date back several decades, although the spirit inside has been mixed again and again. Brandy from the better houses develops flavors ranging from toasted nuts to caramel, tobacco, spice and/or tropical fruit.

Fundador Reserva releases aromas of wood, split cherry and tainted grape (quite similar to a fine grappa). The flavor profile is more interesting, showing clover honey, burnt sugar, a little fruit and some floral notes hidden behind the sting of alcohol. It's relatively light, as well, making it easy to drink.

Of course I seem to remember hangovers being a problem for characters in the novel.

So be it. A hazard. And, yeah, there are better examples of Spanish brandy out there. But Fundador is readily available.

Besides, Hemingway never mentioned Osborne.

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