Thursday, December 5, 2019

Vermouth Review: Lustau Vermut Rojo

Lustau is primarily known as a sherry bodega. Odds are if you see sherries at your local grocery store that are higher quality than the bargain basement varieties, they're probably going to be from Lustau. Starting in 2015 they began releasing vermouths in the Spanish style, but with a sherry base rather than the more common fortified wines.

This vermouth is constructed from a combination of ten year old Pedro Ximénez and Amontillado sherries, which are macerated with botanicals including cinnamon, cinchona, gentian, sage, coriander, and orange peel, then blended to form the final product.

Lustau Vermut Rojo

Nose: bright grape sweetness, fresh berries, herbal notes (bay leaf? sage?), orange peel, and drier sherry savoriness

Taste: rather sweet with some balancing acidity through most of the palate until it shifts into a drier sherry mode at the back

Finish: savory sherry, background PX sweetness, gentle cacao bitterness

This takes what I think of as the standard Spanish vermouth formula of fairly strong sweetness only slightly balanced by a bit of wormwood and gentian bitterness and twists it with sherry. While it's never going to become a go-to for me, it's unquestionably pleasant to drink, especially if you want something in more of a dessert wine mode. The savory notes from the amontillado component keep it from being insipid, but it doesn't have enough bitterness to give it the kind of backbone I'm looking for. It is, however, enough to make me want to try their other varieties, as I can imagine the even drier fino sherry component helping to both add complex and tame some of the sweetness.

In a Negroni, the nose is dominated by the lemon peel and the brighter grape notes from the vermouth. The sip begins balanced between Campari and grape sweetness, there's a burst of citrus in the middle, then layers of drier, more bitter notes unfold from there back through the juniper and pepper of the gin, the darker bitterness of the Campari, and a touch of sherry nuttiness at the very back from the vermouth.

I find myself pleasantly surprised by how well this works in a Negroni. While less assertive than some other vermouths, it plays its supporting role quite well, adding sweetness without going over the top and a nice flourish of sherry to bring in some complexity. So while it's not something that I need to have all the time, it might still be worth picking up for mixing rather than straight if you don't already love that really sweet profile.


  1. There is also a newer Lustau Vermut Bianco that I just spotted at Toro Bravo and the Concordia New Seasons.

  2. Just picked this up to try in a Negroni, vs Antica Carpano or Cocchi de Torino. This makes a great Negroni, Campari of course, and regular Fords Gin. Will try The Botanist, Hendricks and Plymouth with it. Cheers