The Mediterranean diet is undisputedly the best in the West for health and longevity, with one of the main ingredients featured being the liquid gold that is extra virgin olive oil. Spain boasts the perfect habitat for a wide variety of olives giving around half of the world’s annual production.
Article by Victoria Wood
Andalucía is the region with the highest production of olive oil in the world, with the province of Jaén at the forefront and internationally renowned as the “World Capital of Olive Oil”, and where the most important fair in the sector is held, “Expoliva”.
In Andalucía you can find some of the globe’s finest olive trees and production mills with seven of last year’s top 10 olive oils worldwide being derived from here. The best part is, you can go and taste the freshly-pressed delicacy for yourself by visiting some of the finest production mills in the world. Take a tour, see how the process works, and try the strikingly powerful varieties, hot of the press! This is a true natural luxury of life to be able to experience first hand.
The basic steps in making olive oil are always the same, no matter what kind of equipment is used, and the first of these is the cleaning. The olives are stripped of any debris such as twigs, stems, and leaves, etc., then rinsed with water to remove any pesticides. The olives are then crushed using either a stone mill, metal tooth grinder or a type of hammer mill, this releases the oil by tearing the flesh.
The resulting paste is then mixed, or malaxed, allowing bigger oil droplets to form. This takes between 20-40 minutes, the longer the mixing time the more oxidation occurs which reduces the oil’s shelf life, so this is kept to a minimum. Some pastes will be heated or have water added which lowers the quality of the oil. Next, the oil must be separated – originally this would be done by using a press, which you can still experience at some traditional mills, but centrifuges are now more commonly used to carry out this part of the process. The oil is then stored and gravity provides any last separation and then the producer may choose to filter it.
The Top Mills to Visit in Andalucía…
Hacienda El Palo, Jaén
Bravoleum oils are consistently voted and awarded prizes for being one of the best olive oils in the world, so this is again absolutely one of the top mills to visit in Andalucía. You’ll be blown away by the diversity and powerful flavours that dominate their products; take their Ecological Picual, Extra Virgin Olive Oil for example – “intense-green and fruity, it presents aromas of grass, tomato and olive leaf; with important touches of almond and artichoke. Offering a very balanced taste with a medium-low bitterness and more intense spice”. To visit their mill in Jaén is to witness an incredible gastronomical, educational and cultural experience. There are various types of tours, one of which includes a tasting menu using their incredible oils alongside gourmet dishes. Contact them via the website or call to make an appointment.
Aceites Hacienda El Palo S.L.
Villaconchita Farmhouse, Ctra A-6000, Km 16,35
23630 Villargordo, Jaén
Finca La Torre, Málaga
“Finca la Torre is a place surrounded by nature and bathed by the sun since ancient times, where today we work in the most ecological and sustainable way to obtain our Extra Virgin Olive Oil”. Their mission is simple, passionate and dedicated and they are justly awarded for their efforts being voted one of the best EVOOs in the world.
Their premium trees have graced the region for over 2,200 years and their ethos maintains the respect of the environment and ecology focussing on organic and biodynamic theories in caring for their harvest and product. Currently, they have around 40,700 trees: 8,300 of which were planted in 1840, 26,000 planted in 2001 and 6,400 trees planted in 2019. They have four olive varieties: Arbequina, Cornicabra, Hojiblanca and Picuda.
Utilising modern technology Finca la Torre oils are produced in a specialised way, oils are produced immediately upon receipt of the fruits as opposed to using storage hoppers. This results in the optimal flavours and integrity of the oils. A visit here offers a full tour of the fields, the production system and tasting – you can also add on breakfast or lunch upon request.
Camino Finca La Torre
29540 Bobadilla, Málaga
The Melgarejo Mill in Jaen is an outstanding producer of leading world-class olive oils, many of their varieties having won prestigious awards and accolades. A family-run business since 1780, when it consisted of just a stone mill and a beam press, gave rise to what is today, the veteran olive oil producer of the area. Tours are organised in groups of four or more, you just have to make an appointment via the website or by telephone to experience this truly incredible olive oil powerhouse.
Aceites Campoliva SL
Camino Real, s/n (ring road)
23110 Pegalajar, Jaén
Customer service: (+34) 953 36 10 81 / (+34) 953 36 00 70
Mueloliva, Priego de Córdoba
Their introduction can be summed up with “400 awards in 17 countries”, to outline that their reputation precedes them! This is the mill where liquid gold is made, with a strict adherence to traditional methods and artisan ways, rather than mass production, the Mueloliva mill has been producing the most delectable extra virgin oils for over 70 years. No heat or water is used during their unique extraction system allowing for a premium oil maintaining optimal integrity. Located in the town of Priego de Córdoba at the foot of the Subbetic Sierras you’ll find olive groves as far as the eye can see, a truly magnificent setting for these world-famous oils. Take a tour and learn more about their award-winning, globally recognised products whilst immersing yourself in Spanish culture and landscape.
Muela – Olives, S.L.
A339, km 24,5
14800 Priego de Córdoba (Córdoba)
Tel: (+34) 957 547 017
Oro Bailén, Jaén
This mill is set in stunning landscape, based in the foothills of the Sierra Morena between Bailén and Andújar, at an altitude of 400 metres. It’s unique positioning provides optimal climate, soil, and situation for olive trees to thrive.
One of the mill’s oils, the Oro Bailen Reserva Familiar Picual, has been ranked third in the world, their Gold Bailen Reserva Familiar is also world-renowned and acclaimed. Their mill has also been awarded the best in Spain by AEMO, and so a visit here is clearly worthwhile – you may even be lucky enough to spot deer or the illusive Iberian Lynx or wolf!
“Discover the world of olive growing and biotechnology through a unique experience, and let yourself be carried away by the passion of one of the most internationally recognized prestigious oils”. During a visit you’ll take a guided tour of the mill, get to understand the production process, from the harvesting to the packaging, as well as try out their award-winning world-class products. Tours are approximately 60 – 90 minutes and can be booked online or by phone.
Aceites Oro Bailén, Galgón 99 SLU
Ctra. Plumbers, Casa del Agua
23730 Villanueva de la Reina, Jaén
Tel: (+34) 953 548 038 or (+34) 682 182 132