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Liquid Gold: Inside Bodegas Páez Morilla's Century-Old Sherry Vinegar

a warehouse full of sherry vinegar barrels in south of spain

Vinagre de Jerez, or sherry vinegar, wasn’t always glorified. In 1910, Don Francisco Páez Sánchez saw an opportunity for the otherwise shamed vinegar. Where most people saw spoiled sherry, Don Francisco saw liquid gold. 35 years later- his son, Antonio Páez Lobato, would found Bodegas Páez Morilla.

Today, the bodegas of Páez Morilla have evolved into much more than a humble winery. Their biggest export is seasoned casks to the whiskey market. Rather than dumping the “spent” sherry just to produce more matured barrels, Páez Morilla continues to fill virgin casks with the same liquid. After some years the carefully monitored liquid will begin to develop acetic acid. This is at which point the liquid is retired from its job as a seasoning agent and is given a new purpose: developing slowly into vinegar. 

Different rooms house different classes of vinegar destined for different aging periods. You’ll find barrels that have been restored since the early 20th century. Due to their solera process, immense complexity is created over decades. Currently, there exists vinegars of over 100 years in the oldest casks.

Solera is a term used primarily in the context of winemaking and aging processes. It refers to a system of fractional blending used in the production of some fortified wines, such as sherry, Madeira, and certain types of brandy. 

In a solera system, barrels or other containers of wine are stacked in a series of rows, with the oldest wine (or vinegar) at the bottom and the newest at the top. As the wine is drawn from the bottom row for bottling, it is replaced with wine from the row above it, and that row, in turn, is replenished with wine from the row above it, and so on. This process creates a continuous blend of wines of various ages, ensuring consistency in flavor and character over time. The solera system is designed to maintain the style and quality of the wine while allowing for gradual aging and development.

Bodegas Páez Morilla is not just a winery or a producer of sherry vinegar; they also have a cooperage just a 5 minute drive from the aging houses. Here, they transform raw planks of oak into barrels. No less than 50 people are constantly milling, steaming, toasting, sanding, and hammering wood and steel into giant casks. 

We are very fortunate to work with Bodegas Páez Morilla as our sole supplier of sherry vinegar. Not only is the vinegar the highest quality available but the company is still family owned; now headed by Esperanza Ramirez Páez. You can taste their 7º vinegar in a variety of our products, notable IL MIG.