Q&A With Oli Pergl, Tequila Educator at Proximo Spirits

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Oliver Pergl, Tequila Educator, Proximo Spirits

Oli has been with Proximo Spirits for over a year as a Brand Educator for its vast tequila  portfolio, mastering the knowledge of 26 varieties of the iconic Mexican Agave-based spirit.
The brands that Oli covers are Jose Cuervo including Reserva de la Familia, 1800 Tequila, Gran Centenario, Maestro Dobel, plus Agavero liqueur & Creyente Mezcal. A total of 26
different tequilas/mezcal across 6 brands.

Why are you talking at Cambridge University on Saturday, 15 September?
As the Tequila Educator for Proximo Spirits, I believe that education is the greatest tool we have to share the story of Jose Cuervo and the great adventure that Tequila has been on.  The day after the lecture will be Mexico’s Independence Day – one of their biggest Public holidays of the year – and this lecture will be held to kick off the celebrations early in one of the most celebrated Universities in the World.

What are some common misconceptions of tequila?
Before studying the huge topic that Tequila is, I was bartending and managing some of  London’s best venues. Here it was commonplace that Tequila was primarily enjoyed as a
shot or in a Margarita – the misconception here is that drinking it is very singular and had rarely strayed out of those two ways of drinking it. In Mexico, Tequila is always sipped neat, a bottle is present on every table at dinner and it is an incredibly sociable  experience. A lot of people misunderstand how premium Tequila is, and that it has taken great deal of time to get from field to bottle – many of our Tequilas can match up to if not better some of the World’s finest Cognacs and Whiskeys.

Why do you think it’s important that the youth get a greater understanding of tequila?
Most young adults, such as those studying at Cambridge University, will not have the same knowledge behind spirits as most bartenders do – with my experience I aim to give some of that knowledge and passion back to them. With this I hope they are then able to see Tequila for what it truly is, and as long as responsible drinking is adhered to, there is no wrong way to enjoy Tequila.

What is the difference between Tradicional Silver, Reposado and the Reserva de la
Familia?
The difference boils down primarily to the ageing; the Silver has been unaged, but allowed to rest in Steel for up to two weeks, allowing the young alcohol to relax before bottling to ensure a creamy, buttery sensation when sipping. The Reposado is where we put that Silver Tequila into American White Oak barrels for a minimum of two months – just enough time for the alcohol to extract sweetness from the wood, adding depth of character and an inviting golden colour. The Reserva de la Familia is something supremely extraordinary – originally this was a secret recipe enjoyed only by the Family and close friends, until in 1995 they celebrated their 200-year anniversary and launched this Extra-Añejo. Harvesting extramature Agaves, slowly cooking the hearts and then using the first-pressed nectar, they produce an exquisite Tequila that is then aged in American White Oak for three years. It is then finished in French Oak for a further six months, adding complex notes such as coffee, butterscotch and spices – this is finally blended with the Family’s private reserves of Tequila and eventually bottled by hand.

What’s your top three ways to drink tequila, and on which occasions?
If I’m not making a cocktail; I’ll be enjoying it neat, and it will be present at every day celebrations. If I’m visiting the home of Tequila; I’ll visit La Capilla, the home of the “Batanga” – a long drink made with Mexican Cola, Fresh Lime, Salt and of course – some Silver Tequila. And at significant times of the year like Christmas when the whole family is together, there’ll always be a bottle of Añejo to enjoy after the Turkey.

A part from the Margarita, what would you recommend those non-tequila fans should drink first?
The first thing I suggest is to try Tequila neat – and more importantly – to sip it. The Agave plant that produces this fine spirit takes around 6 years to mature before we can harvest it – it really does demand us to spend more time enjoying it. Otherwise; Tequila and Tonic go incredible well together with a few lime wedges squeezed in, and our Reposado Tequilas go great with Ginger Ale, Lemon and some ground black pepper sprinkled in – these both go perfectly when just sitting down to eat.

What are three key things you want the university students to take away from your
lecture?
I want to engross them in the epic and romantic story that Tequila is; I want them to  understand where it’s come from and how we create it, and most importantly – to fall in love with something I so dearly have.

What is the next big thing in store for tequila?
Jose Cuervo have been making Tequila for over 250 years through 11 generations of family – constantly overseeing changes in the market and having their Tequilas at the forefront of  innovation. With the interest of Mexican culture in the U.K, we are seeing a huge rise in  Mexican restaurants and craft wines and spirits coming from Mexico. The excitement around everything Mexico is causing a huge buzz right now – and Cuervo is at the heart of all of this.

 

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