The Camarena Family is one of the most famous and major names within the tequila industry. Here in the UK, they are synonymous with a growing set of brands that are taking a different outlook to the tequila industry and offering an alternative on all three levels of brand leadership. Welcome to Casco Viejo, La Cava and Maracame; The Camarena Family.
Heralding from the town of Tequila within the state of Jalisco over 250 years ago, their origins can be started from when their Spanish ancestors immigrated to Mexico in the early 18th century. In 1761, they co-founded the town of Arandas, where the distillery can be found today. 1860 saw the family plant their own agave estates around Arandas and in 1931, Don Agustin Camarena founded his distillery Casa Casco Viejo. Today though, Elena Herrera Orendain a descendent of Jose Cuervo, assumed control of the company in 1970 and its her children and grandchildren who manage the day-to-day.
As mentioned, the Camarana Family planted their first agave estates in 1860, and have become the 3rd biggest agave plantation in Mexico with 3000HA and over 3 million agave plants, located in the Highland region of Jalisco over 2000 metres high. The family is so proud in fact that they have their own jimadors and avoid the rainy season when the piñas can become diluted (contracted jimadors are paid by weight and are tempted to pick when heavy with water). The piñas are harvested between six and nine years, but once cultivated, the fields are planted with beans and then corn to regenerate and nitogenate the soil. The stubble is then burnt and after a gap of a year, the agave is replanted.
The piñas are traditionally baked within a brick oven to convert the starches into sugar. Casco Viejo piñas are baked for 48 hours, La Cava piñas are 60 hours, whilst Maracame is 84 hours, although not within brick ovens, instead volcanic rock ovens. After baking, they are cooled slowly for 24 hours, then crushed. Once crushed, each brand is fermented with a specific yeast strain and a certain amount of time. Casco Viejo uses a cultured yeast for 48-60 hours, La Cava a cultured yeast for 72-84 hours, and Maracame a Champagne yeast for over 84 hours.
Once fermented, both Casco Viejo and La Cava are double distilled within traditional pot stills that hold 200 HL. Maracame however is distilled at a lower temperature and much more slowly. Plus, only the heart is used , no feints or foreshots. After distillation, all the expressions, barring the Blanco, are aged within new American white oak barrels (medium toast), which have had a quick interaction with tequila previously to quieten the tannins. The spirit comes off the second distillation at around 55% abv, and is reduced down to 42% abv before ageing.
Once aged, each expression is reduced to its bottling strength with water from a private well that has been filtered by double osmosis.
So, we know how they are created, but how do they fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on each of the three brands and their expressions –
Casco Viejo Blanco – 38%
Toasted corn on the nose, with a clean agave aroma coming through. Very smooth on the palate, with a slow developing freshness that becomes aromatic with the agave. A thin finish that lingers a little dry.
Casco Viejo Reposado – 38%
Aged for 2-3 months. Subtle vanilla and fudge aromas on the nose, with thin, dry kicks of earth following. Light upon the palate, with a good dose of vanilla, oak and dry earth blending well for a lively fresh finish.
La Cava de Don Agustin Blanco – 38%
Soft, subtle and with hints of dry agave on the nose. Clean, smooth and with a developing richness of honey and agave on the palate. A lingering, thick texture on the finish.
La Cava de Don Agustin Reposado – 38%
Aged for 4 to 6 months. Subtle ticks of agave, oak and earth on the nose, with a drawn out aroma of corn finishing. Smooth on the palate, with a raw agave kick slowly rising. Thin, fudge and vanilla flavours with a developing dryness of pepper on the long finish.
La Cava de Don Agustin Añejo – 38%
Aged for 12 months. Rich toffee and plenty of new, dry oak on the nose, with sawdust and wood chippings following. Incredibly smooth, plenty of rich honey and agave notes on the palate, followed by warm fudge, slight butterscotch and thick agave on the incredibly long finish.
Maracame Reposado – 38%
Aged for 6 to 9 months. Bold notes of honey, toffee and fudge combining on the nose. Slight oak rounding the finish off. A rich kick of fresh vanilla pods, thick agave syrup and toasted clotted fudge on the palate creating a long, slightly dry and peppered finish.
Some absolute crackers of tequila expressions here, and a surprise to see Casco Viejo, for its price especially, be such a versatile liquid and great for sipping. Speaking of versatile, check out this recipe –
50 ml Tequila Casco Viejo
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 dash seasoning sauce
1 dash Tabasco sauce
2 dashes lemon juice
1 dash salt and pepper
Pour Tequila Casco Viejo into a glass with ice, splash lemon juice, add 5 drops of Worcestershire sauce, 4 drops of seasoning sauce and 4 drops of Tabasco sauce, add salt and black pepper to taste, fill with clamato juice. Stir smoothly.
Casco Viejo is award-winning too, grabbing a gold medal and rated ‘outstanding’ by the International Wine and Spirit competition, and there are a couple more expressions of the Maracame to look out for, including Plata, Extra Añejo and the Gran Maracame Platino. Pick up a bottle of Casco Viejo, La Cava or Maracame for your drinks cabinet today and enjoy an alternative way to the tequila world.
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.