The spirit of the Algarve

news: The spirit of the Algarve

A conference designed to highlight the origins and cultural importance of the famous Algarve ‘firewater’ known as medronho, and other popular liquors distilled by small producers in the rural areas of Monchique, will take place in the municipal archives department of Loulé on February 23 at 3pm.

It will be presented by Ludovina Galego, a leading expert in the subject who is a teacher at the University of the Algarve where she has been working since 1990.

The production of medronho, made from the distillation of the wild strawberry fruit, is predominantly a cottage industry carried out by individual artisans in the hilly regions of Monchique.

The history of the beverage stretches back to the Moorish occupation of the Algarve in the 10th century and over the years the distillation process has been mastered and brought to perfection.

Not surprisingly, it is high in alcoholic content, and old timers often joke that those who imbibed to excess in days gone by had to attend a special unit in the local hospital to dry out!

The conference will also cover the subject of a range of other aguardentes produced from figs, carob, honey, grapes, apricot and plum, while lovers of liquors have enjoyed since 2009 an aguardente made from sweet potatoes in the region of Aljezur.

The biggest challenge in recent years has been to produce a liquor with honey.

Production of all these beverages is subject to strict quality control in line with the required legislation.

The maturation period, often in chestnut wood or oak barrels, depending on the region, can be up to three months.

Ludovina Galego is part of a team formed with the objective of disseminating information and knowledge of these aguardentes which are unique to the Algarve.

289 400 811 (Loulé Câmara)