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!
It has again been a long time ago since I wrote something on my own blog. Been feeling a lot like that lately, I do so much for others and completely forget to have some own time, gather my thoughts in to something productive. We all have our ups and downs though, nothing strange. Something that is a bit strange though, is that I don’t really drink a lot of Tequila lately. For some reason it doesn’t seem to appeal to me the way it did a few years ago.
A few years ago I also just got back from Mexico, and I can really feel that I am lacking inspiration. It is hard to keep up to date with a ever-changing tequila industry from such a distance. All I see lately I pretty girls wearing next to nothing, representing yet another Tequila brand. How am I supposed to take that seriously? Or the story of a mythical donkey shining up in the mountain miles away, potentially carrying the best Tequila in the world, IN THE WORLD. I thought that taste was something personal and that it is quit big-headed to claim anything to be the best in the world. Somehow it feels easier to believe that though, than Barbie charmingly pouring tasters for a group of horny men.
On top of that Tequila keep changing distilleries, change owners and differ dramatically in taste from batch to batch. How am I supposed to believe anything that is happening in this industry now? When I can’t go there and see for myself? Can producers/owners not see that this is only confusing a huge market of potential new Tequila lovers? One week this Tequila is great, next week it is shit, third week different owner, fourth week a different distillery and back to being premium quality? Excuse my french, but WTF! is going on? It seems to be only about money, owners of a brand that one day are the proudest Mexicans in the world, next day change face and say something completely different. You are selling your national heritage to huge American companies, who will turn it into a 10 year goldmine and then what? Then its the salt and lemon all over again and the struggle continues.
Last time this happened, the producers were serious and could not understand why people would drink very well produced Tequila with salt and lemon, quality went up and people slowly learnt. But then what happened? Producers saw an opportunity to make a quick buck by lowering quality a bit and selling on the name they made for themselves, and after a while aficionados had enough. Come on who can honestly say that Don Julio is a great Tequila now days? even just a couple of years ago the juice was amazing! now it almost screaming for salt and lemon.
Of course there are much worse examples, but no need to drop them all. This is after all my opinion. It all just seems like such a mess right now I’m not sure where to turn. I still have a few brands I can trust, but for how long? When is enough not enough? I can’t come as a chock to you that when massive corporations get involved it is all about maximizing profit, they don’t care about the production as long as people buy it, and people will buy if the marketing is done correctly. Simple as.
Luckily for me I have amazing Mezcal around me at the moment, but I just keep thinking if I should start getting worried when I drink Mezcal, or suggest it to my guests, that if I drink too much it will get too popular and I won’t be able to get the good stuff any more? I think we shall all together stop supporting the commercial brands and do our best to get the real deal! It is the only fair thing for guest in our bars, friends and family. It is not very hard to demand better quality from our distributors, many a times they just need a kick in the butt and a bit of help.
Now I will pour myself some Los Abuelos Blanco, Lot 3. Because I can. Salud!
Amigos Y Amigas!
Lately there have been a lot of Tequila in my life again, and I am getting in to service again after a long time building my bar (The Barking Dog). It is still not completely done, but quite close, at least we are up and running from thursday to saturday, and I am loving being back behind the bar. As I mentioned I finally starting to find time to focus a bit more on Tequila again. A couple of weeks ago I got a case of Ocho Curado delivered from London. I must be honest, I did not know very much about it, but I trust Tomas enough to get my hand on a few bottle. And what a treat it was! A great blanco infused with cooked agave. My tasting notes on this: It is an all-night’er! There are only 480 liters of this juice available for now, so get your hands on a great first batch of Ocho Curado!
This repost goes out to Don Javier of the great little bar, La Capilla. Enjoy.
It has been a while now since I wrote a little something here, and I guess I could excuse myself, but I am not. It is for a really good cause. Right now I am building my first bar, a real dream come true moment, and it is still a bit hard to get a grip on that this is actually happening. The bar is called The Barking Dog, and will as the name might indicate not be an all about Tequila bar, but more of a traditional bar. Of course I will make sure to offer the best agave spirits in Denmark. As most people could imagine it is a lot of work building a bar, and I will not have time to keep this blog active for a few months. I will however do some repost’s so that new comers to the blog have a chance to catch up.
The first repost is one of my earliest, I got on the phone with Tomas Estes to get inspiration. For a long time I felt stuck professionally, and having a real good conversation with an expert on the subject always seems to clear things up a bit. Read: On the phone with Tomas Estes..
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!