The production of brandy has been a tradition in Spain since the Middle Ages. When the Moors (Arabs) conquered Spain in the eighth century, they brought the art of distillation with them. The Spanish scholar Arnaldus de Villanova (1240-1311) experimented with the production of brandy and wine around 1285. The Spanish were thus among the first peoples in Europe to master this art. Until the end of the 19th century, large quantities of raw distillates were supplied to the Dutch, giving rise to the name "Holandas" for a particular type of brandy.
Today, the production of Spanish brandy is in the hands of the sherry producers in Jerez. Like all wine brandies, it has to meet the EU conditions for the production of a "brandy made from wine". Although the basic wines do not come from Jerez, distillation and maturation take place here. The largest share comes from the autochthonous Airén variety from the La Mancha region, which is cultivated in huge quantities, and Cayetana Blanca is also used. Four different distillation processes are permitted, and the final product is called aguardiente (meaning "burning water").