I have been whining the last few times about Tequila not doing it for me anymore, and why is there “no one” making tequila the way “it should” be made according to my own taste bla bla bla. The explanation I have given myself for not appreciating Tequila the way i used to is quite simple. A few years back now I started experiencing Mezcal, which has been a great ride, and i find true happiness in drinking it. It gives me what Tequila used to give me, a full on tasting experience ending in a big smile.
Mezcal is usually at a higher proof than Tequila, so it made sense for me to start the evening by drinking Tequila and finishing off with Mezcal, but after a while, the Tequila started feeling blunt and too smooth, and it is not only the taste that differs, it is the whole experience, which left me very puzzled in the beginning. But it is really quite simple. To some extent it comes down to the proof of the distillate, higher proof gives more concentration of taste, we all know this so that is nothing new. But for a while that was it, though I was never really happy with that story. So one day I took one of my favorite Mezcals to see what happens if I diluted it. I started to add a few drops of pure water to see if the reaction was similar to that of whiskey. The Mezcal in this case should try to push the water away and open up for aromas, and the experience should become richer. with the first few drops and nothing much happened, I added a few more and a few more after that, the end result should be a decrease of approximately 4%. The only result I got out of this was that the Mezcal I had in my glass was now diluted and the alcohol burn got stronger. Bummer, not what i expected. Though I had a good idea about it. I got similar result with Tequila and could not understand why. Eventually i went the long way around and did the same experiment with other spirits, and the conclusion was that spirits made from all kinds of starch converted to sugar, seemed to give an reaction, dramatic aroma changes, smoother fuller flavors etc, while the agave which does not contain starch but instead fructose and glucose felt more harsh, more diluted and not as fresh and enriching as before. So simple as, agave does not mix well with water, at least not if what you are after is a rich, full-bodied, yet smooth agave distillate. To go further with this idea, I had to get a bad Tequila and see what happened if i separated the water from the alcohol. So me and Lorry fired up the still to get some high proof Tequila and what we got was somewhere around 70% (which by law is not a tequila anymore, a maximum of 55% abc is allowed). Starting with a very poor product the end result was surprisingly good. The agave got full on, very sweet, straight from the oven kind of flavors, very strong though.
The conclusion of this must be that agave distillates and water should not mix. Agave should always de distilled to proof in my humble opinion, based entirely on my own conclusions, experiments, common sense and no what so ever scientific proof. As i found out over the years there are a few distilleries that do distill to proof even if that is 40% and you can clearly taste difference. that said, one producer could be better than the other. There is however two people that to some extent do agree with me, Tomas Estes and Carlos Camarena who together just released hands down the best Tequila I have tried since I can remember, Ocho Cask Strength Single Barrel Anejo at 54.5% abv. On top of that Carlos is releasing a Tapatio Blanco at a full 55% abv, Look forward to that, a liter of liquid smile!
Thats all for this time. Salud!
Amigos y Amigas,
For a long time now i have lost the faith a little bit in the world of agave. for some reason I had a feeling that everything was working against my beliefs and that the industry was turning evil. For that reason I have been particularly active on this blog. The inspiration have been on a record low and all my energy I have spent at The Barking Dog. Which is fair enough, I expected it to be a lot of work opening a bar, but not to drown in it, but luckily I escaped just as my nose was going under the surface. I felt that I got stuck again, not sure where this leads me, what my role in all of this was, it even got to the point where I could spend a whole day without having a little Mezcal. Mental I know. I felt it was time to leave. Last time I was on holidays was in Mexico two and a half years ago and with all the hard work this industry brings with it, newly acquired knowledge taught me that it is needed more often than that. So the last three weeks I have spent on the beach with my girlfriend and a lot of Mezcal. Drinking Mezcal on the beach many days in a row made it much easier for me to put things in to perspective, and I came back a more relaxed man than before.
Upon my arrival back home a little bird had told me there was a surprise or two waiting for me in the bar and for the first time in a long while I was actually truly excited about trying a new product, butterflies in the belly kind of feeling, you know what I mean. The main attraction was the latest addition to the Ocho portfolio, but there was also a new Mezcal on the Danish market, Illegal. I have heard and read a lot about this, but never gotten around to try it sober, which is the first thing I will do after finishing this post. The basic range of Don Fulano is now available and Herencia Mexicana is if not right now in the basement of Juuls, it will be very soon. So much more about this later. The thing I have missed in Tequila lately is the power of the agave when it is un diluted. My favourite Tequilas have always been from the more traditional distilleries, and now I know why. They do not dilute the Tequila after distillation. It gives the Tequila a completely different character and power in flavour. Almost like the alcohol disappears and what is exposed is purely the flavour of the Tequila. However after drinking a lot of Mezcal which is usually at a higher abv, it is a little bit hard to go back to the 40% Tequilas. The become almost too delicate. Then I found Don Fulano 50% which has much more power in its flavour, richer notes of cooked agave, wild green plants and dusty roads. Before that the only one I knew was Herradura Blanco 46% which was far better that the export strength. And now the christmas present of the year, Ocho Anejo Cask Strength. Aged 18 months and 24 days and served at 54.4% abv this goddess of Anejo Tequilas explodes in your mouth and gives you the full expression of the agaves. This time from Rancho Los Corrales. This fills me with new hope and belief that the true agave industry will survive. The Tequila boom will most likely explode at some point and sales and promotion will go down. But we will see more and more aficionados within the category of agave.
This blog post was sponsored by a decent sized Del Maguey Minero. Salud!
New traditions is always fun, and last year I introduced Tequila to the christmas table. This year I thought it was time for something a bit different, so me and the other Tequila heads in Copenhagen got together and made a mexican christmas table in honor af Guillermo Sauza and his fantastic work. Since the first time I laid eyes on a bottle of Los Abuelos I have had a special connection with it. It was the one bottle on the backbar we were not allowed to touch, which in theory sounds great, but tell that to a bartender and as soon as the bottle has been opened, it will get sampled, more than ones if the juice is exceptional. Of course we sampled it, but it was one of the bottles that made me proud to stand behind the bar, and back then we had to go to Mexico to pick one up. I did not sell it to just anyone, you had to deserve this one. Nowadays it is a bit more available, and the juice has stayed the same, some batches more preferable than others, but this all comes down to personal preference. This year I was very lucky when my good friend and fellow tequila geek told me he was going to the states just before christmas, and had found a shop where he could buy Los Abuelos. Which inspired us to fill this years christmas table with just that, bottles of Los Abuelos accompanied by fish tacos Mark “Mr Fish Taco” Alberto style!
When I drink amounts like this of great Tequila, it never hits me that I am drunk, which is quite interesting. We were drinking and chatting away for a good 10 hours, five bottles, four people, and it wasn’t until I woke up the next day that I realised I had been quite tipsy the day before. I get such a clear “high” from drinking this amazing Tequila, I can go on forever, well in this case we ran out of Juice so we had to polish off a Quita Penas Repo and finish off with a couple of glasses Quita Penas Blanco. After that much alcohol I should in theory not remember much, but most of it is still clear, until around the moment I started making my way home, which clearly was my mistake, I should have stayed for another one!
Having the opportunity to taste them all back to back, comparing batches was a great idea, and hopefully I will get the chance to do that all over again, maybe a different Tequila next time. If you can get your hands on a bottle, I would gladly recommend Reposado lote 11, that really made an impression on me.
Feliz Navidad Tres Mariachis Comrades!
Amigos y Amigas you are in for a treat, I found this great picture minding my own business. This I guess really shows how Tequila is different in Denmark and USA, the cost of making this picture is far more than the total marketing budget for Tequila in Denmark. How about that?
Lately there have been a lot of focus on tastings and master classes about Tequila and Mezcal here in Denmark. Which of course is very positive from my point of wiev. It is how ever very easy when promoting alcohol that taste that good, by itself, to forget to mix it, and a mixed drink is actually most people’s rediscovery of this beautiful spirits. As a result of this conclusion, I got invited to Juuls Vinhandel to do a cocktail follow-up session of the recent Tequila events. I thought to mix a few very simple drinks that anyone can recreate at home. First up was variations of the Paloma, probably the most mixed Tequila drink in Mexico. My first introduction to this drink was while working in Green & Red, where we used Reposado Tequila, fresh pink grapefruit, dash of sugar and sparkling water with a squeezed lime wedge on top, served in a highball glass with a salted rim, while on my first trip to Mexico I found out that it was simply Tequila with a grapefruit soda called Squirt, served with a pinch of salt inside the drink. Yet an other twist on this great drink is the Batanga, which is Tequila with coke and half a lime squeezed in, served in a highball with a salted rim. One of my favourite drinks for the moment is Tequila and Tonic, so I added a bit of fresh pink grapefruit juice to it, a squeeze of lime, added a salt rim and ended up with Paloma No 19. Showcasing these four drinks in the shop was great fun, and the customers found it interesting to try such simple twists on the same drink, with a very big difference in taste. The last drink on the menu for the day is one I am very proud of, it is called Bienvenidos and is a mix(4:2:2) of Del Maguey’s Vida, Kahlua and fresh lime juice, served straight up with a lime zest, which apparently appeals a lot to scotch drinkers. It was really a good experience standing in the middle of a busy liquor store on a friday afternoon talking about the booze that I love and mixing good drinks with it. Thanks to everybody who came down and supported, karma will credit you for that, I am sure.
If you want more detailed recipies drop me a line, Buen Domingo!
The last year or two Olmeca has made a lot of noise in the Tequila world, especially working together with Tahona Society on a global Tequila training program. Basically they have been all over the world, sharing their passion for Tequila. International margarita competition was a part of that as well, where finalists were taken to Mexico to get to know the real culture and get a feel for what the Tequila life is all about. Unfortunately Pernod Ricard has not yet seen the potential of Olmeca Altos in Denmark.
But this we all knew, so what is it that is cooking. Olmeca Altos has just partnered up with Tequila ambassador Tomas Estes, and will become a priority brand in his restaurants, Pacifico & La Perla. According to the brand, Estes works closely with the Mexican National Tequila Chamber and has “contributed to the growing success of Tequila globally”, which I think we can all agree on. So what does it mean to be a priority brand, well in this case it means, customer awareness, new cocktail menu, staff uniforms and a mural in the restaurant. Olivier Fages, international vice president of Olmeca, said: “Olmeca Altos is already available in many top-end outlets in the UK, and this partnership will enable us to target new consumers in a cocktail environment, while feeding into our ambitious plans for continued growth in Europe.”
Estes said: “With the increased demand for high quality 100% agave Tequilas, the addition of Olmeca Altos to their [Olmeca] portfolio in 2009 was an exciting phase for the brand, and has established them as a preferred choice within the bartender community.
“Working closely with Olmeca’s cocktail experts Henry Besant, Matthias Lataille and Steffin Oghene, we look forward to creating a series of drinks for our menu that will perfectly compliment the wonderful qualities of Olmeca Altos as well as creating stimulating, educational activities around tequila.”
Which naturally leads us on to the next topic, Matthias Lataille who Pernod Ricard recently appointed UK brand ambassador for Olmeca Altos. (Congrats Brother!)
Lataille said: “Since joining The Tahona Society team, I have been raising awareness of the tequila category internationally and the unique qualities of Olmeca Altos.
“In this new role, I will focus on the vibrant UK cocktail scene and take Altos to the next level, through continued education of the category.
Hopefully this also raises awareness for Altos in Denmark. Our neighbours in Sweden are on it, so I guess it is a matter of time, bring it on! And until you do I guess I have to spend more time wanting to open the Altos Repo I have standing on my shelf at home, signed by master distiller Jesus Hernandez. One of the many treasures I got hold of this summer. This one was a gift from Matthias, gracias!
There was a time, not long ago, that Don Julio Tequilas were revered as THE Tequila of Tequilas throughout most of Mexico’s upper-echelon consumers. The bottle, the image, the name, the tequila in itself were all one step above everyone else. I got invited back to the homes of a few families during my trips to Mexico, and if they wanted to impress, there was a bottle of Don Julio Reposado on the table.
Now, history has a tendency to repeat itself, and the Gonzalez family (now with their own brand, Reserva de los Gonzalez) walked out of a long time mission with Don Julio and sold the brand to foreign interests.
Don Julio Tequila is named after its founder, Don Julio González-Frausto Estrada, who began distilling tequila in 1942 at the age of 17. Acknowledging the benefits of vertical integration (In microeconomics and management, the term vertical integration describes a style of management control. Vertically integrated companies in a supply chain are united through a common owner. Usually each member of the supply chain produces a different product or (market-specific) service, and the products combine to satisfy a common need.), Gonzalez-Frausto established his own distillery, La Primavera, and spent the next 40 years improving his craft. In 1985 Don Julio González-Frausto celebrated his 60th Birthday, and his sons gave him the greatest gift of all. A Tequila perfected over many years carrying his own name, Don Julio. Guests at the party asked if it would be available for sale. The word spread and before they knew it, the demand from Guadalajara and neighbouring cities became so big it made the choice very simple. Don Julio launched in 1987 and set the standard for all Tequilas in this category of style. It is considered to be the worlds first Luxury Tequila. Before this Tequila was considered a poor mans drink.
In 1999 the now defunct, The Seagram Company Ltd., had invested in Don Julio Tequila. The expanded agave plantations were a joint venture between the Gonzalez-Frausto, Funtanet, Andrade Rivera Torres, and Cuaik families. In 1999 Don Julio Gonzalez, delighted to forge a relationship with Seagram, stated, “I am proud that the Gonzalez-Frausto family joins with the Seagram family in a global effort behind Don Julio Tequila. I am committed to overseeing personally the agave plantations that are so vital to the superior and unique quality of the Tequila that bears my name.” Following the liquidation of The Seagram Company, Diageo PLC decided to acquire all the Don Julio brand in 2005 for 29,300 million Mexican Pesos or 2.2 million USD at time of sale and an undisclosed share swap to the Gonzalez-Frausto family for Diageo stock.
This brings us to Tales of the Cocktail that happened a couple of weeks ago, where Don Julio introduced their new product Don Julio 70 Anejo Claro. A revolutionary new technique called filtering is introduced, which basically takes all the color away from the Anejo, hence the “claro”. Why this is made is beyond my understanding. Filtering comes with a price, in this case, that price is flavour. The “70” stands for the 70 year anniversary of La Primavera distillery. So if I get this right, to celebrate 70 years of tradition, they make something very untraditional and completely without purpose. Well not completely without purpose, the price-tag went from around $40 to $70, so obviously someone is getting something out of it.
” Tequila Don Julio 70 originated from Master Distiller Enrique de Colsa’s special reserve and is being launched in honor of the 70th anniversary of the year Don Julio González began perfecting the art of tequila making. To create this unique masterpiece tequila, Tequila Don Julio hand selects the finest blue agave plants at the peak of their maturity. The agave is then hand harvested and twice distilled at La Primavera, the distillery founded by Don Julio González. Tequila Don Julio 70 is aged to perfection in reclaimed American white oak barrels for 18 months, then carefully filtered for extra smoothness and its unique clarity.” – Tequila.net
If you ask me, that is a load of bullshit. Salud Tequila Blanco!