Orujo is a liquor obtained from the distillation of the pomace (solid
remains left after pressing) of the grape. It is a transparent spirit with an
alcohol content over 50% (100° proof). Its name comes from the expression
"aguardiente de orujo" (pomace eau-de-vie).
It is a popular beverage in the northwest part of Spain, especially in Galicia
where it is also called aguardente or caña and is an
element of collective identity. Although orujo from Galicia is probably
the most famous, it is also made in other regions, such as Cantabria.
(the solid remains of grapes
after pressing) is used to produced grappa.
Orujo’s basic ingredient is the residue from wine production. Once the grapes
are crushed, the orujos or residue of the grapes can be used to produce the
liqueur of the same name. The grape skins, seeds and stalks are fermented in
closed vats and then distilled. Stills, called alambiques,
are traditionally large copper kettles that are heated over an open fire, while
a poteiro (orujo distiller) watches over his brew. The distilling process
in the alambiques takes 6 hours or more. The copper stills used by Galicians for
centuries are thought to have been brought to the Iberian peninsula by the
The orujo that is produced by the distillation is a colorless liquor, while the
orujo envejecido or "aged orujo" is amber in color. The aged variety is
fermented and distilled the same way, but is then poured into oak barrels to age
for at least two years.
From orujo, Galicians traditionally make a drink called queimada, in which bits
of lemon peel, sugar and ground coffee are put into a clay pot. Then the orujo
is poured on top and the pot is lit on fire until the flame turns blue. This
ancient tradition dates back to Celtic times and includes a ritual where the
queimada-maker recites a "spell" as he makes the drink.
Orujo, although with distinct names and characteristics, is also found in other
countries, such as Italy (where it is produced as
grappa), Germany where its
name is Tresterschnaps, Peru (known as
Pisco), Portugal (known as
Hungary (törkölypálinka), while in Bulgaria, Montenegro, Croatia, Greece, and
Cyprus it is the local variant of
Rakia. In Galicia itself it is also sometimes
referred to as Aguardente and in the rest of Spain as Aguardiente.