There’s always a great back story to a brand. Wealthy merchants, knowledge know-how, supply to demand. But what about beginning your career by growing and selling agave plants to other distillers. Not a fairytale start, especially if you were born into a family that had distilled tequila since back in the early 1800’s, but the distillery was destroyed and abandoned during the Mexican Revolution. Welcome to the story of Tepatio tequila.
Don Felipe Camarena was the man above, and after having nothing at all, and I’m sure a whole heap of uncertainty, he started distilling his own tequila, using equipment from his family’s original distillery. In 1937, Don Felipe opened La Alteña Distillery in the mountainous region of Jalisco, Mexico. Don Felipe passed the business to his son, Felipe J. Camarena Orozco, who in turn passed it on to his daughters, Lilianna and Gabriela, and to his son, Carlos, who today is the Master Distiller.
At the La Alteña distillery, the methods of production have stayed the same since the beginning, including the use of a large stone wheel (known as a Tahona) that turns in a pit to crush the cooked agave plants. The juice and agave fibres are then mixed in a barrel by foot before fermentation and distillation. Only 100% blue agave is used, double distilled and bottled without any additional water.
So how does Tapatio, a Mexican word referring to a man from Jalisco, fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on my experiences of the range so far –
Tapatio Blanco – 40%
Bottled after a few weeks rest in steel tanks. A light, soft aroma of agave on the nose, with a soft spice developing slowly on the palate. It warms slightly on the lingering finish.
Tapatio Reposado – 38%
Aged for around 4 months. Soft on the nose with slight vegetal notes. A little sharp on the palate at the beginning which kick starts the spice into a long, lingering yet dry finish.
Tapatio Excelencia Gran Reserva Extra Añejo – 40%
aged in French oak barrels for around four years before bottled. Very smooth on the nose with a good blend of honey and vanilla behind the agave aromas. A sharp start on the palate, but softens with the addition of caramel and brown sugar. A dry spice offering on the long finish.
Of course, I’d always recommend to drink tequila neat, but then again, with recipes like these –
50 ml Tapatio Reposado
20 ml fresh lemon juice
15 ml agave syrup
6 fresh mint leaves
Pour all ingredients into a Mixing glass, add cubed ice and stir. Strain into highball glass.
Not a bad range at all, with a basic Anejo to complete it before you hit the likes of the Extra aged expression. Great to choose on a night out, or indeed a night in too.
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