Aguardiente

Aguardiente is a distilled spirit hailing from Latin America, usually made from fermented sugarcane. Find out the history, types, brands and cocktail recipes in this article.
A glass with aguardiente on a light brown wooden tray placed on a dark brown wooden surface, with two sugar cane and a barrel behind.

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Aguardiente Guide – What to Know Before You Shop Aguardiente Online

What is Aguardiente?

Ag aguardiente (Spanish) or aguardente (Portuguese) is a term used to describe various types of traditional distilled alcoholic beverages in Spanish-speaking countries.

“Aguardiente” is a Spanish word that means “burning water.” This name comes from the strong, fiery feeling you get when you drink it because it has a lot of alcohol. In the name, “agua” is the word for water, and “ardiente” means burning. Different cultures have their names for similar drinks (Chicha, Rakia, Tsipouro, Tuzemak, …).

Aguardiente is often referred to as the distillate that hasn’t yet aged long enough to earn the title ‘rum‘.

Three small clear glasses of colorless liquid on a rustic wooden table.

Different Aguardiente types

Aguardiente can be classified by the raw material used for distillation, and it comes in various types, often associated with the regions where they are produced.

Sugar Cane Aguardiente

This is common in many countries in Latin America. It usually has a strong and bold taste. You can find it with or without added flavors. Some places add local herbs, spices, or fruits to give it a unique taste.

Grape-Based Aguardiente

You can find Grape-Based types in countries like Spain, Portugal, and Chile. It’s often made from wine or the solid parts after pressing grapes. It can taste similar to pisco and has a clear grape flavor.

Anise-Flavored Aguardiente

This type is is popular in several countries, including Colombia and Spain. It’s made with aniseed, which gives it a licorice flavor. Many people like this bold flavor.

Fruit-Based Aguardiente

Fruit-Based Aguardiente uses different fruits, and its taste depends on the fruit used. For example, in Portugal, they make Medronho from the fruit of the strawberry tree, giving it a unique taste. There are many flavors of fruit-based types because of the different fruits available in other places.

Grain-Based Aguardiente

Grain-based Aguardiente comes from grains like barley or rice. It can taste like whiskey or vodka, depending on how it’s made and the grain used. It usually has a smoother, more neutral taste, making it suitable for mixing in drinks.

Herbal Aguardiente

The herbs in this type can change the flavor and smell a lot. People often like this type for its complex taste and mix of herbal notes.

Mixed-Base Aguardiente

Some types are made with cane sugar and fruit or grain and herbs. These have a wide range of flavors and smells. They are usually special to the local area and show the local tastes and ways of making spirits.

What does Aguardiente taste like?

Aguardiente has a robust flavor, often featuring a pronounced anise or licorice taste. It tastes similar to other anise-flavored liquors like Sambuca, Ouzo, and Absinthe.

How much alcohol is in Aguardiente?

It contains between 24% and 29% alcohol by volume (ABV), translating to 48 to 58 proof. Some varieties can have higher or lower alcohol content, depending on regional regulations and production methods. 

Are there any Aguardiente substitutes?

Sambuca can be a suitable alternative because it also has a prominent anise flavor, but remember that it’s usually sweeter and has a higher alcohol content. Another option is Ouzo, a Greek liquor with a strong anise flavor; it’s more potent, so you may use it sparingly or dilute it. Also, Arak, a traditional Middle Eastern spirit with a clear anise flavor, can work as a substitute. Still, it typically has a higher alcohol content, so adjust the quantity accordingly. Lastly, Absinthe, known for its anise flavor and high alcohol content, can be an alternative, but it should be used cautiously due to its strength. 

Top Best Aguardiente Brands

Antioqueño

A clear bottle of Aguardiente Antioqueño on a table, with blurry people in the background, suggesting a social setting.

Antioqueño is a famous aguardiente from Colombia. It has a smooth taste and a clear, anise flavor, usually made from sugarcane—many locals and tourists like it a lot.

Cristal

Cristal is another well-liked brand from Colombia. It is clear and has a strong anise flavor. People enjoy its balanced taste and often drink it straight or in mixed drinks.

Tapón Rojo

Tapón Rojo, from Colombia, is famous for its consistent quality and anise flavor. It is a common choice in many homes and places in Colombia.

Chinchón Anisette

Chinchón Anisette comes from Spain. It has a sweet and strong anise taste. This brand is a favorite for those who love a traditional and high-quality spirit.

Cachaça Pitu

Cachaça Pitu is another respected brand from Brazil. It has a bright and crisp taste, making it an excellent choice for exploring Brazilian aguardiente flavors.

Velho Barreiro

Velho Barreiro, from Brazil, is known for its smooth and fruity taste. It has a special place in the hearts of enthusiasts because of its balanced flavors and careful production.

Zhumir

Zhumir, from Ecuador, is well-known and has become synonymous with the spirit of the country. The brand focuses on quality and keeps the traditional production process.

Where to buy Aguardiente online?

Total Wine & More

Total Wine & More offers a broad selection of Aguardiente, available online. They provide detailed descriptions and customer reviews for each product, making it easier for buyers to make informed choices. They offer delivery and in-store pickup options.

BevMo!

BevMo! is another well-stocked online liquor store where customers can purchase Aguardiente. The user-friendly website offers various brands and prices to cater to different preferences. They also provide the convenience of home delivery or in-store pickup.

Drizly

Drizly is a widely used online platform where customers can order and have it delivered to their doorstep. It connects buyers to local liquor stores, ensuring fast and convenient delivery services.

How much does Aguardiente cost – Price Ranges

The price of Aguardiente can vary widely depending on the brand, the country of origin, and where you buy it. Here are some general price ranges:

  • Lower-End Brands:

Nectar Aguardiente is often found at lower prices, around $10 to $20 per bottle. It offers a standard, pleasing taste, suitable for various occasions.

  • Mid-Range Brands:

Antioqueño Aguardiente is a mid-range brand, with prices generally ranging between $20 and $40. It is recognized for its smoother and refined flavor profile.

  • Premium Brands:

Cristal Aguardiente can be on the premium side, often priced above $40, particularly for aged varieties or special editions. It is known for its high-quality production and balanced flavors, making it a choice for those willing to spend a bit more on premium quality.

How to drink Aguardiente?

You can drink Aguardiente neat, on the rocks, or mix in cocktails:

  • Drinking It Straight

Pour a little into a shot glass and sip it slowly to taste the flavors, especially the aniseed flavor many have.

Liquid is being poured into a clear glass from a bottle, with a wooden barrel in the background, all set on a wooden surface with a rustic feel.

  • In Mixed Drinks

Aguardiente can also be used in different mixed drinks or cocktails. Its strong flavor goes well with sweet and fruity things. Mix it with fruit juices, soda, or even coconut milk to make tasty drinks.

  • With Water or Ice

Some like their Aguardiente with water or ice to make the strong taste milder. This way is good for those who find Aguardiente too strong or are trying it for the first time.

Popular Aguardiente cocktails

Aguardiente Sour

This cocktail mixes Aguardiente with lemon juice, simple syrup, and a dash of bitters, offering a balanced and tangy flavor.

Coco Loco

Coco Loco is a tropical drink with Aguardiente, coconut cream, pineapple, and lime juice. It’s sweet, creamy, and perfect for beach days.

Aguardiente Punch

This punch blends Aguardiente with assorted fruit juices, grenadine, and fresh fruit slices. It’s fruity, sweet, and great for parties.

Mojito de Aguardiente

In this twist on the classic Mojito, Aguardiente replaces rum. Mixed with fresh mint, lime juice, sugar, and soda water, it’s refreshing and minty.

Café Quemado

Café Quemado involves Aguardiente and hot coffee. It’s bold and warming, ideal for coffee lovers looking for an extra kick.

Agua de Valencia

Agua de Valencia combines Aguardiente with orange juice, vodka, and gin. It’s strong, citrusy, and a good choice for those who enjoy powerful cocktails.

Aguardiente Caipirinha

This cocktail swaps cachaça for Aguardiente and mixes it with sugar and lime. It’s simple, tangy, and easy to make.

Pineapple and Aguardiente Cooler

This cooler mixes Aguardiente with pineapple juice and a splash of soda. It’s refreshing, slightly sweet, and light.

Tamarind and Aguardiente Cocktail

Mixing Aguardiente with tamarind paste, simple syrup, and lime juice creates a sour and sweet cocktail with a unique flavor profile.

Cinnamon Aguardiente Hot Chocolate

Blending Aguardiente with hot chocolate and a touch of cinnamon results in a comforting and flavorful beverage, perfect for colder days.

What are the ingredients of Aguardiente?

  • Base Material

In places like Colombia, it’s usually made from sugarcane. The sugarcane is fermented to make alcohol. In the Balkans, people often use fruits like plums or grapes to make Aguardiente. Sometimes, it can also be made from grains like rice or barley.

  • Water

Water is vital. It’s mixed with the base material (like sugarcane or fruits) to make the drink less intense and get the flavor right.

  • Flavorings

Many Aguardientes have a special anise flavor, which tastes like licorice. This flavor is added in many regions to give the drink its special taste. However, not all have this flavor. Some have different or no added flavors so that you can taste the base material more.

How is Aguardiente made?

1. Selection of Base Material

Depending on the region and the desired flavor profile, it could be sugarcane, fruits, or grains. The base material will influence the taste and character of the final product.

2. Fermentation

Once producers select the base material, they subject it to fermentation. This process involves converting the sugars present in the base material into alcohol using yeast. The duration of fermentation can affect the flavor and alcohol content.

3. Distillation

After fermentation, the liquid goes through a process of distillation. Distillation helps separate alcohol from the fermented liquid, enhancing the purity and strength. The spirit might undergo multiple distillation processes to achieve the desired quality and alcohol content.

4. Flavoring

In regions where anise-flavored Aguardiente is popular, producers add anise during production. The anise imparts its distinctive flavor to the spirit. However, adding flavoring agents depends on regional preferences and traditions; not all Aguardiente has added flavorings.

5. Aging (Optional)

Some types undergo aging in wooden barrels. This step is optional and depends on the desired outcome. Aging can add complexity, color, and additional flavors.

6. Bottling

Some varieties may be diluted with water before bottling to reach the desired alcohol by volume (ABV) level.

FAQs

  1. Is Aguardiente a brand or a type of spirit? Aguardiente is not a brand; it is a category of spirit made in various forms in many countries.
  2. Is Aguardiente the national drink of any country? It’s a traditional national beverage in Colombia.
  3. What mixers go well with Aguardiente? Aguardiente pairs well with various mixers, including fruit juices, soda, and tonic water.
  4. Is Aguardiente gluten-free? It depends on the base material; Aguardientes made from sugarcane or fruits are typically gluten-free, but those made from grains like barley may not be.
  5. How should Aguardiente be stored? It should be stored in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight, to preserve its flavor.
  6. Is there a specific glassware to use when serving Aguardiente? While there isn’t a specific glass, it is often served in shot glasses or small tumblers.
  7. Can Aguardiente go bad? When properly stored it has a long shelf life and does not easily go bad. It’s best to consume it within a few years of opening for optimum flavor.
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