Cocktails with… Harvey’s Pedro Ximénez Sherry

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Grateful, having been introduced to sherry via my Harvey’s Bristol Cream review a couple of months ago, I was intrigued and pleasantly surprised when a bottle of Harvey’s Pedro Ximénez arrived recently. Still a newcomer to sherry, I’m enjoying exploring the range of flavours on offer and this was unlike anything I’ve tasted before.

Made from dried Pedro Ximénez grapes Pedro Ximénez is a dark sweet sherry that is often used to sweeten the flavour of other sherry blends. Harvey’s Pedro Ximénez is based on a solera founded in1919 and has an average age of 30 years.

On its own

There was a slightly tart edge to the nose, beyond which I found distinct hints of sweet, juicy raisins and brandy, reminding me strongly of Christmas pudding.

It had a wonderfully silky texture that was accompanied by an intense sweetness. Rich and fruity, there were hints of spice, chocolate and brandy, before a very definite flavour of raisins. The aftertaste was also distinctly of raisin – making me feel like I’d just eaten a handful! – that faded into a surprisingly dry finish that hung around for a little while.

Toddy

This toddy had a strong, sweet nose of mincement and Christmas spice and pudding. The taste was intense and rich, of raisins and syrup, like sticky toffee or treacle pudding. Towards the end, this richness became slightly bitter, with lemon and orange notes coming into play before a dry finish.

I thought this was a marvellous toddy that reminded me of Christmas and rich, heavy pudding, whilst also not being overly sweet; a very “grown up” toddy.

Scottish Breakfast

Like most of the drinks that I tried with this sherry, the nose of the ‘Scottish Breakfast’ was distinctive; unlike all of the others, this nose was of sweet orange fondant, with tiny hints of  raisins and treacle behind it.

The flavours in the mouth unfolded in a distinctive pattern: it started with a raisin-like sweetness that slowly, gradually flowed into a smoky raisin flavour, before finishing with a little warmth and hint of orange. This was unlike any cocktail that I’ve tasted before and I was impressed at how remarkably balanced it was, despite the huge flavours within it. I’ll definitely be drinking more of these in the future!

Margarita

The savoury tequila gave a salty start that quickly faded into a sweeter, raisin-like richness alongside Christmas spice notes: cinnamon and allspice.

Like the Scottish Breakfast, this drink combined two very unique, strong flavours that actually combine unexpectedly well without either losing any of their intensity. Alongside this, there was a lovely, glowing warmth in my stomach afterwards. Definitely a surprising sucess! 

On ice-cream

No doubt inspired by my repeated recognition of the flavours of various puddings, for my final tasting notes, DBS presented me with a champagne glass of Cornish cream ice-cream topped with Pedro Ximénez.

To start, the two components were very separate, with the creamy ice-cream flavour neatly offset by the rich, raisin and berry notes from the sherry. Gradually, though, the two literally melted into one another and the sherry lost its sharper edge; there was still a slightly tart, bitter tang at the back of the throat that stopped the whole thing from becoming sickly and reminded me of liquorice. There was a lasting finish from the sherry, which was dry and slightly cloying. Some people may be put off by the slight curdling that occurred where the two ingredients met in the glass, but for everyone else, this could be a worthwhile experiment!

In conclusion…

If you like raisins or Christmas pudding and aren’t adversed to strong flavours in your drinks, I’d highly recommend trying Harvey’s Pedro Ximénez. I was especially impressed at how well it went with scotch in my favourite cocktail of those we tried – the Scottish Breakfast – although the toddy came in a close second place.

– Mrs. B.

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