I realised this week, whilst finalising this year's turron line up for The Tapas Lunch Company
, that the standard classification of turrons, as used by the manufacturers and the 'Consejo Regulador', is somewhat confusing. Actually, it's a minefield.
If you've shopped for turron before, you've probably noticed a huge price difference between all the varieties and brands available. Turron, both in Spain and the UK, can range from a few Euros (or pounds) to about £10/10 Euro for a single 300g bar. Turron de Alicante (hard) and Turron de Jijona (soft), despite their obvious differences, are essentially the same thing - a mash of almonds and honey - so what's at the root of these price differences.
Obviously, as in all food products, brand plays its part and different manufacturers will always aim for different market segments. The biggest factor, however, is the 'quality' of the turron, and with a product as heavily regulated as turron, the classified 'quality' should be easy to determine. Yet it often isn't.
Before we get into the actual classifications, you'll need to know what properties of the turron dictate the classification - that's the easy part. The main property is percentage of almond
- the lower 'quality' the turron, the lower the overall percentage of almond will be and thus more filler will be used. Aside from quantity of almond, the actual variety is also important, with cheaper tureens using cheaper almond varieties. The king of almonds is considered to be the Marcona, which is used only the top quality, and most expensive turrons.
The 'Consejo Regulador' that controls the production of authentic turron, stipulates a minimum percentage of almond for the turron to receive a 'Denomenacion de Origen' stamp. Anything below 64% for Turron de Jijona (the soft one) or 60% for Turron de Alicante (hard), cannot be sold as a DO turron, so the manufacturers are not allowed to include the seal. Most manufacturers have turrons of this quality and they are often, confusingly, labelled 'Calidad Extra' or 'extra quality', when, in fact, they are the lowest possible quality turron available.
The vast majority of turron is made at the exact quality level required to gain the DO (i.e. 64%/60% almond) and is marketed as 'Calidad Supreme' or, you guessed it, 'Supreme Quality'. Most turron you find on sale falls into this bracket and is 'reasonably' priced.
Most manufacturers also have a 'Calidad Sublime' or 'Calidad Oro' ('Sublime' or 'Gold' quality) which is made to standards in excess of those demanded by the Consejo Regulador, commonly with 70% almond and using the Marcona variety. These are the luxury turrons, often marketed under different brands by the manufacturers, and sold for premium prices. A good example is the 1880 brand, which is famous for being the 'most expensive turron in the world' and sold at surprisingly high prices.
So what's the real difference between a 'Supreme' turron and a 'Sublime' turron? Is it worth paying double. Now, obviously that's very subjective, but in my humble opinion (and I've tasted a lot of these things), no. I would says there's a very small (about 5-10%) difference in taste and texture in favour of the luxury turron, but it is really hardly noticeable and certainly not worth the large difference in price. Blindfolded, you'd be pushed to identify the more expensive turron in some cases.
That's just my opinion, of course, but I hope it helps you make an informed decision. At The Tapas Lunch Company
, we've chosen to focus our efforts on fantastic and reasonably priced 'Supreme' quality turrons and leave the overpriced stuff to those who want gourmet