Torres Jaime I
Review: Torres Jaime I Brandy (30 year Solera) 92/100
a Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published August 3, 2012
Torres Jaime I is produced in the Penedès region of Spain by Miguel Torres. This distinctive brandy is named for the founder of the House, Jaime Torres Vendrell, and is produced from old soleras which were aged from selected distilled wines. In fact, some of these soleras began their lives as distilled Pardella Wines destined for the Torres 10 Brandy, but were instead kept aside to serve as reserve stocks. To make the Torres Jaime I these reserves were enriched with some of the House’s best soleras, the oldest of which were aged 30 years. The final piece of the puzzle (so to speak) was the addition of a small amount of aged 1972 eau-de-vie of Folle Blanche lees (which is normally used to produce high-quality pot-still brandy).
I was asked by Pacific Wine and Spiritsif I would like to receive a bottle of this Spanish brandy to review on my website. Since you are reading this, I guess I do not need to tell you whether I agreed or not.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
Wow! As you can see from the picture, the bottle presentation for the Torre Jaime I is spectacular. The corkscrew bottle is absolutely fantastic, and it looks more like a trophy than a spirits bottle. I was surprised when I went online and discovered that the price of this Brandy is quite reasonable within its category (average price I saw online was $80 Canadian before taxes). I am delighted that the overwhelming bottle presentation was not a prelude to an overwhelming price as well.
There was unfortunately one element of the bottle display which caused me to deduct 1/2 a point from the score, and that element was the corkage (see picture to the left). I noticed when I opened this Brandy for the first time, that the stopper was unusually stubborn, and when I examined the stopper and cork afterwards I understood why. The cork ring around the glass stopper seems to have either swelled and broken down, or it was too large in the first place. As a result, little bits of cork had broken off the stopper and were floating in the brandy. (A simple sieve removed these deleterious objects from the liquid.)
Corkage matters, and hopefully this issue is addressed in future bottlings.
In the Glass 9.5/10
The Torres Jaime I exhibits a dark, lush copper colour in the glass. The brandy is complex, assertive and very intense. In fact, the bouquet from the glass has the ability to fill the room when it is poured. The aroma is oak stained and very rich. Dry fruit (dates, raisins and prunes), licorice, charred coconut, and almond all rise into the breezes. Baking spices (vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon) join in as does a wonderful brown sugary aroma which adds to the richness of the aroma above the glass. As I let the glass breathe, I seem to catch hints of marzipan, marmalade and a building chocolate presence.
In the Mouth 55/60
Oak spices reverberate through the brandy as the first sip puckers my mouth and heats my palate. The brandy is lush with a heavy body and a thickened mouth feel. So many rich flavours come forward that it is hard to decide where to begin. Dark fruits like raisins and plums abound, sweet figs and pungent dates well up, sprinkles of cinnamon and a light nuttiness all give me impressions of delicious Christmas fruitcake. We have vanilla, licorice, baking spices, chocolate and an almost rum-like quality of decadent brown sugar.
It is the oak that builds and builds as the glass breathes, so much so that over time the Jaime Torres Brandy almost seems like some sort of oaken nectar rather than an aged brandy. My impression is that oak is almost overdone, but fortunately the rest of the flavours in the spirit manage to keep pace maintaining balance and character throughout the tasting experience.
In the Throat 14/15
The exit features hot oak spices mingling with pungent baking spices. These coat the palate and each trail down the throat. A lingering fruit-filled sweetness makes each sip a wonderful experience.
The Afterburn 9/10
Brandy is only an occasional indulgence of mine. Normally I find the oakiness of well aged brandies to be a little overwhelming for my palate. We have just a bit of that with the Jaime Torres I. However, the oak, although omnipresent, does not stand alone. It allows the other flavours within the brandy to join in such that the nectar created is complex but balanced. The result is a wonderful interplay of complimentary flavours dominated by the oak, but not devoured by it.
I admit that as I write this review, the Torres Jaime I has become more than an occasional indulgence. I have had the bottle a mere three weeks, and it is more than half way finished. I think this speaks to how highly I regard the lush flavour and complexity which the Brandy delivers.
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score as follows:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing spirit. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)