Today, olive oil is synonymous with excellence and health. It is one of the staple foods in the Mediterranean diet and adds a touch of distinction to all of our traditional dishes. Its excellent health benefits are being proven time and again in endless scientific studies of the highest level, ranging from prevention of cardio-circulatory diseases and cancer to relieving arthritis and delaying the aging process.
Spain is by far the biggest world producer of olive oil and our oils are of the very highest quality. The quality of Spanish oils is based in the varietal and ecological diversity of the olive trees cultivated in Spain, in the meticulous cultivation and harvest techniques employed by farmers and in the care taken to obtain and process the oil itself. For the latter, the Spanish oil industry boasts the best and most advanced technologies. All together this means that Spanish olive oils are of an excellent quality and can be found on the best markets in the world.
Types and Categories of Olive Oil
The industrial facilities where olives are turned into oil using exclusively mechanical means (milling, centrifugation, decantation and filtration) are known as oil mills. Once bottled, the oils obtained which can destined for personal consumption, fall into two categories:
"Extra Virgin Olive Oil": This is the highest quality olive oil available and has irreproachable analytical and sensorial qualities. It is obtained directly from the olives using exclusively mechanical processes. Its aroma and flavour exactly reproduces that of the olives it is made from and it preserves all the inherently healthy and nutritional properties of this exceptional natural product. Extra virgin olive oil is the very best of this natural olive juice and comes in both filtered and unfiltered forms.
"Virgin Olive Oil": This is a second class olive oil and, though it too is obtained directly from the olives using exclusively mechanical methods (it is still juice extracted from olives), it has slight deviations in its analytical or sensorial parameters which mean it cannot be classified as "extra" virgin.
In addition to these two categories of olive oil, oil mills also produce other oils, which, although they have been obtained in exactly the same way as other virgin oils, do not ultimately meet the quality criteria required to be classified as such. These sub-standard virgin oils are known as lampante oils because, in earlier times, their inferior quality meant they were destined for use in oil lamps. Unsuitable for consumption, they have to be submitted to a chemical refining process at other industrial facilities, the refineries, to correct their defects. The oils obtained are known as refined olive oils whose sensorial characteristics are practically null, lacking in aroma and flavour as they are, and are not suitable for consumption unless mixed with other suitable oils.
Alongside these virgin olive oils (extra virgin, virgin and lampante), a subproduct is also obtained in the oil mills, known as pomace, which contains significant quantities of oil. This oil can be extracted via physical or chemical processes at other industrial installations known as extractors. Here, a crude olive-pomace oil is created, which is not suitable for direct consumption and needs to be submitted to a refining process. Refined olive-pomace oil is also obtained in this way, and is similarly unsuitable for consumption until mixed with other suitable oils.
According to European legislation (Annex I of EC Regulation 865/2004), in addition to the categories "extra virgin olive oil" and "virgin olive oil", the following olive oils are also considered suitable for direct consumption and can be found on the market:
"Olive Oil" : This oil is made by blending refined olive oil with a variable percentage of virgin or extra virgin olive oil.
"Olive-Pomace Oil" : Made up of a mixture of refined olive-pomace oil and virgin or extra virgin olive oil.
In Spain, it is not permitted to blend olive oils with any other type of oils or fats of vegetable or animal origin. Olive oils must be presented to consumers duly bottled and labelled, clearly indicating the category of oil contained within the bottle in question: whether "Extra Virgin Olive Oil", "Virgin Olive Oil", "Olive Oil" or "Olive-Pomace Oil".
Denominación de origen en España
The quality and acidity of our olive oils
Many consumers associate the quality of an olive oil with its acidity. Acidity is one of the chemical parameters of olive oils and indicates the level of free fatty acids in the oil (expressed in % of oleic acid). It is important to bear in mind that acidity is a chemical parameter used to determine its quality and does not have any effect on oil flavour. A low acidity level is proof that a virgin oil has been made using healthy olives under optimum conditions at every stage in the process. A maximum acceptable level of acidity is established for each category of olive oil:
Extra virgin olive oil 0.8 %
Virgin olive oil 2.0 %
Olive oil 1.0 %
Olive oil preservation
Olive oil is a natural product whose properties deteriorate progressively over time and so should be consumed within the recommended period in order to best appreciate its quality. To preserve its excellent qualities, it is advisable to store it with the bottle cap tightly closed and kept at mild temperatures (15-20 ºC) away from sources of heat and protected from light, drafts and humidity.
More information: Analytical and sensorial parameters (tasting panel).
Denominación según Reglamento (CE) 865/2004
CASTILLA LA MANCHA