Wines of Spain - The Malaga Wine Museum
The Spirit of Andalucia
As the southern most region of Spain, Andalucia has cultivated
throughout its history distinct flavours, characters and culture.
This is the homeland of Picasso, Flamenco and vintage Malaga
wines. No visit to the region would be complete without a morning
stroll on the beach, lunch at a churinguito and an afternoon of
|Close to Marbella, is the small whitewashed, hillside village of
Ojen. Quintessentially Andalucian, it is the birthplace of one of
Spain’s most famous drinks and home to the Museo Vino de Malaga
(The Wine Museum of Malaga).
In 1997, this forgotten distillery was refurbished to its former
glory and opened to the public. It stands as a proud tribute to a
rich heritage and a visible reminder of the Andalucian Tourist
Board’s continuing effort to showcase its literally palatable
culture to the region’s many visitors.
Attracting more than 20,000 tourists per year, the Museo offers
the definitive guide to the region’s diverse brewing history. It
was an obvious choice to select Ojen’s derelict distillery to
exhibit that diversity.
| The distillery was founded by Pedro Morales in 1830. It was
Andalucia's first distillery and one of the first in the country.
The Morales name would later become synonymous with Spain’s most
enduring beverage. He was determined to create a distinctive brand
of alcohol with a unique flavour and he achieved just that when he
unveiled his Pedro Morales Aguardiente de Ojen.
Aguardiente literally translated means fire-water, and in English
would be classified as a spirit. Morales’ aguardiente was a type
of potent schnapps, more than 40 percent proof and flavoured with
anis. It was distilled from Malaga’s moscatel grape to create
either dry or sweet schnapps.
The drink was so loved and so entwined in the Spanish way of life,
that it became common to go to a bar and simply ask for “una
copita de Ojen” (“a glass of Ojen”), securing this tiny town’s
name, a place in the history books. By the height of its glory,
Aguardiente de Ojen was exported to London and Paris as well as
the Philippines and Havana. Its notorious coffin shaped bottle was
so revered, that even Picasso chose to immortalise it on canvas.
For three generations, the Morales family reigned Spain’s brewing
industry. Many tried to copy the enigmatic potion, but none
succeeded. However, by 1920 the absence of a male heir to carry on
the family tradition sealed the distillery’s fate. The family, the
distillery and the infamous drink all faded into a fable. The
drink’s exact formula remains a mystery to this day. The building
recaptured some of its former notoriety, when in 1931 until 1937
it was the seat of assembly for the town’s Miners Union during the
difficult times leading up to the Spanish Civil War. It went
through various reincarnations as a cinema, coffee shop, theatre
and a discotheque until 1997 when it was given a new lease of life
by the tourist board.
Now the walls of the Museo Vino de Malaga display more than 200
bottled wine varieties from fourteen of Malaga’s wineries. Also on
offer are sherry, whiskey and brandy. Just as each Malaga town has
its own culture and cuisine, they also have their traditional way
of distilling the moscatel grape, to produce distinct flavours and
attributes. Sherry is a particular speciality of the region and
there are many different brands to choose from.
On entering the Museo, the first thing you notice is the
abundance. Bottles of many varieties, origins and potency are
neatly crammed onto solid wooden shelves. Labels, postcards and
posters in glass casing, announce historic dates and decorate the
walls above the bottles. A large foreboding oak table takes centre
stage in the room and displays an array of decanters from numerous
countries including France, Italy, Germany and Israel. The Museo
also offers a large selection of handcrafted giftware from all
quarters of Andalucia including wine sets, rugs, ceramics and
However, possibly the greatest attraction that the Museo can offer
is an afternoon of wine tasting. For the humble price of €2,50 you
can indulge your palate with Andalucia’s finest wines, from
Malaga, Jerez, Vuelva and Cadiz. The choice of dry wines includes
trajinero, fino and verdiales, the sweet offers lagrima, natural
and cream while the moscatels are sublime, dorado and plata. The
character and flavours that defines each of these varieties is
well worth any afternoon, to find out.
Which brings us to the last great attraction of the Museo. As well
as the great location in a beautiful hillside Andalucian village,
the historic journey of the building and its lasting tradition,
the crowning glory of the whole experience is the staff at the
Museo. Informative, enthusiastic and multi-lingual, they ensure
that every visitor to this Andalucian treasure trove fully
appreciates the true spirit of Andalucia.
Museo del Vino Malaga, Antigua Destileria de Ojen, C/Carrera, 39,
For more information and opening times, tel: 0034 952 881 453.
Article written by Natasha Smith.
For further information email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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