Sandeman Cask 33: The Story of a Very Old Tawny Porto | Partner Tip
Posted on Feb 02, 2015
The 50-year-old blend was laid down in the 1960s.
The ideal way to celebrate 225 years of exceptional winemaking? Release a single cask that melds wines crafted by multiple generations of Master Blenders.
In that illustrious cask begins the story of Sandeman’s recently released very old Tawny Porto: Cask 33. The 50-year-old blend of aged Tawny was laid down in the 1960s and includes wines of up to 70 years of age. Crafted by head winemaker Luís Sottomayor, this singular cask required the selection of matured Tawnies of varying ages—from the vibrant 30-year-old to the rich 60-year-old—to create the perfect blend.
The unprecedented bottling of this single cask demonstrates the pinnacle of Sandeman’s Tawny Portos. What better way to appreciate such an achievement than to explore the history and traditions of the brand that brought Cask 33 to life?
Founded in 1790, Sandeman was the first company to brand a barrel with its trademark. Sandeman was also one of the first to label and advertise its wines and is considered one of the oldest brands in the world. The “Sandeman Don” is one of the earliest brand images created. The icon was designed in 1928 and represents the mystery and sensuality of the brand: The logo’s black cloak is a nod to those still used by Portuguese students in Coimbra and the Spanish sombrero represents the Jerez region. With glass of Port in hand, the dramatic dark figure continues to be recognized worldwide as a symbol of prestige and quality.
A leading producer of aged Tawnies, Sandeman began storing and aging wines in its cellars near the banks of the Douro River around 1850. The Douro region in Portugal was one of the first wine regions in the world to be demarcated, and it’s believed that viticulture developed in the Douro Valley as early as the 12th century. The first reference to the label “Port” appeared only in the 17th century and was applied to the Douro wine. Douro is a difficult wine-growing region with rough soil made up of nutrient-rich schist, but these challenging conditions produce the highest quality fruit. The grapes grown in this rugged climate are the source of the wines that eventually made their way into Cask 33.
George Sandeman (left) and head winemaker Luís Sottomayor.
Every minute, an average of 21 bottles of Sandeman are sold worldwide. Available in 75 markets and a leading brand in Belgium, Italy, the United States, Japan and beyond, the company has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1790. As a young Scotsman with a loan of 300 pounds, George Scotsman bought his first wine cellar in London. From there, he was able to rapidly expand the company with a branch in Spain and a cellar in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal, where you can still find more than 2,000 aging casks and bottles from 1870. Today, George Sandeman represents the seventh generation of the founding family that has been preserving the excellence of its wines by passing down knowledge for more than 200 years.
A rich tribute to the Sandeman legacy, Cask 33 binds two crucial elements from the past. The first is the unique blend of aged Tawnies that led to a Porto of great evolution and character, destined to be bottled on its own. The second is the creation of its one-of-a-kind bottle. Designed in the style of those originally used in 1790, the Cask 33 bottle was hand-blown by one of Portugal’s last great artisanal bottleworks. A limited edition piece of art, only 685 bottles were produced, emphasizing the celebratory nature of this very special release.
This very old Tawny Porto is best enjoyed on its own at the end of a meal, allowing its elegance, intense aroma and powerful flavor to shine through. It’s a truly memorable way to experience Sandeman’s long and vibrant history.