How is vermouth made?
By Helena Bilney
Usually made with white wine, red vermouth gets its hues from the herbs and caramelised sugar for those sweet brown notes, but what else is involved in the process of vermouth? Here we take a look at some key steps in creating this delicious drink...
The first important task in the process of vermouth is to pick the botanicals (plants, herbs and spices). As many as 40 to 50 botanicals can be put into one recipe of vermouth; orange peel, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, juniper… It all depends on what flavour and type the producer wants to create- dry or sweet- vermouth is a playground for your palette. In turn, it will dictate the experience for the consumer and how the recipe will be distinct from others with its tones of bitterness, sourness and sweetness.
Pure alcohol is then added to the botanicals as well as water, and boiled at high temperature to extract the flavours and break down the botanicals. At the end of this process, a distillate is created – a concentrated liquid with all the aromas and spices. The alternative to this infusion is Maceration, where the herb mixture is put directly with the wine to blend. The main difference here is that the botanicals are diced beforehand arguably driving greater quality because of the increased surface area. Extraction as a whole can be executed cold, but the higher the temperature (and higher the proof of alcohol), the faster the rate of extraction.
Mixing and Melting
The distillate is then put with the desired wine so they can marry together and create their own unique fusion- slow and steady wins the race in the land of flavour!
To blend further, an additional six months can be given for the vermouth to rest and mature. Oak barrels are used to age the vermouth, resulting in a rounder, fuller flavour.
The liquid is then cooled and kept refrigerated at low temperatures. This is to avoid a cloudy mixture by precipitating particular chemical substances which come from the herbs.
This step improves the smoothness of the vermouth, by refining and filtering the drink.
Bottled up and ready to go!
Vermouth can be what’s known as “Royalty-free” whereby the producer pays a one-time fee for rights and use, rather than paying every single time. Or, the producer can have a license where they quote to wholesalers who respectively can sell the brand. It has to have Artemesia (wormwood), and be between the range of 14.5 percent ABV and 22 percent ABV to be classified as vermouth. This applies regardless of country.
Interested in joining us for a tasting? Get in touch with El Vermut's team, we run regular tastings throughout the year! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.