Madrid - Bold Brilliantine and Honorable Brandy
Hello everyone. I'm back from a most invigorating Easter trip to Madrid. I trust you had a pleasant break? Madrid was as welcoming as ever: a capital city, unlike others — I'm looking at you London — that never feels unpleasantly over-crowded — apart from around Puerta del Sol, but we don't go there — and moves at a pace that allows you to enjoy and absorb the pleasures it offers. The sun rarely failing to shine helps with Madrid's image too. I'm still looking at you London.
Brooks Bothers in Salamanca
A couple of things I noted on this trip. They now have a Brooks Brothers in our favourite barrio, Salamanca. I predict this will go down an absolute storm in this conservatively-dressed enclave. And the Spanish love their button-down shirts.
Brilliantine by Colomer
I forgot to take my usual Yardley English Lavender Brilliantine on the trip, but found an excellent standby in Ryelliss from Colomer. Colomer was founded in 1933 by José Colomer Ametller and made its products in Barcelona. The company is now the much larger Colomer Group, but the Colomer family is still involved.
You may quail at the vintage packaging of Ryelliss Brilliantador del Cabello — for me it was actually a selling point, wonderfully old-school — but this stuff delivers. Slide some over the hair and you'll be a winningly bombastic madrileño in moments. I can understand the allure of brilliantine in hot countries, it does help to placate the tresses in heat and humidity.
Honorable Brandy from Torres
I do enjoy the classic cigar, coffee and brandy combination after a meal. Get the quantities right and you can be left with a delightfully satisfying feeling, like one's body is fizzing with 'God particles'. Anyway, that was the description I noted down on the trip with my scribbling device. My writing is almost indecipherable that day.
The great thing in Spain is that they don't stick to boring old standard measures when pouring a brandy. They bring the bottle to your table — to show you the bottle and to let you know you're getting what you requested — then they pour it in front of you. They might expect you to say, "That's enough"; but being British you never say it and you get an enormous measure. It might also be the waiters trying to get the measure of you. Will you capitulate and ask them to stop pouring? Or will you earn their respect?
I did enjoy the brandies from Torres this time. This Spanish company — founded in 1870 — remains family-owned, and is now run by their fourth generation.
Torres do 5, 10, 20, 30-year and 50-year-plus brandies. The Honorable brandy — the oldest — is from casks dating from 1960. The 10-year-old was really good, but I also had the chance to try the Honorable, which was stunning (see 'God particles' reference above).
The 30-year-old Jaime might have the nicest bottle of the bunch - below. This reminds me that I brought back an incredible bottle of tequila — a beautiful thing. I'll show you another time.