WHAT IS MEDRONHO?
The Aguardente de Medronhos is a strong spirit, a traditional fruit brandy from Portugal, obtained from the fruit of the Medronho tree, Arbutus unedo, also called strawberry tree. Medronho trees grow wild on the poor soils in rural regions of Portugal such as Alentejo and the inner Algarve.
There is no commercial plantation of the trees and the fruits are mainly collected by local farmers, by hand and processed privately. Therefore, good Aguardente de Medronhos is not easily found in supermarkets but instead bought mostly directly from these farmers. Very few farmers have a license for distillation.
Aguardente de Medronhos is very popular with ordinary people, such as farmers and fishermen, and often drunk for breakfast to wake the spirits.
Aguardente de Medronhos is also known as Firewater to non-Portuguese speakers, and obtains this name from the hot sensation as the consumed beverage travels down the throat and is felt through the sinuses. And also from the fact that “água ardente” is portuguese for burning water.