The 100% agave tequila from the Orendain family, one of the original founders of the Tequila industry, Batanga is now available to UK wholesalers from Emporia Brands.
Established in 1926 by Don Eduardo Orendain, Batanga Tequila is traditionally distilled using 100% agave grown on one estate in the heart of Jalisco in Mexico. The Orendain family is considered as one of the four oldest tequila families and one of the actual founders (among Cuervo, Sauza and Herradura) of the Tequila industry. The company is run by the second generation of the family with the third generation now starting to have an active role. The CRT (Tequila Regulatory Council) recognise the Orendain legacy, naming Don Eduardo Orendain as a founder within their building.
Batanga Tequila is made using the Orendain families own agave fields to support local production and growth with only the best agaves being used to guarantee the excellent flavour and taste profiles with only traditional production methods being used (no diffusers are used at any point!).
The name Batanga comes from Don Javier Delgado Corona. In the western Mexico town of Tequila, there’s a small, nondescript cantina called La Capilla – home of the Batanga, a simple drink created in the 1950s by Don Javier Delgado Corona, the bar’s owner.
The Batanga is simple: nothing more than tequila, cola and fresh lime juice served in a tall glass with a salted rim. But as Don Javier will tell you, its flavour isn’t only in the ingredients – it’s the big knife which he uses to stir the cocktail, that’s the secret to the perfect Batanga.
Two expressions are now available to the UK market;
Batanga Tequila Blanco: 38% abv | 70cl
Classic and expressive on the nose with intense typical earthy agave notes of pepper, herbs and mint. Fresh and lively in the mouth with a clean and vivid profile and a long finish.
Batanga Tequila Reposado: 38% abv | 70cl
A fresh and vibrant nose of grass and pepper. Subtle oak plays a complementary role on a palate which shows great refinement and integration, with a crisp flavoursome finish. Aged 4 – 6 months in ex-Bourbon barrels (American White Oak).
888 Tres Ochos tequila was founded in an era that ushered in high quality premium brands of 100% blue weber agave tequila. The transition from party shots to elegant sipping tequila started with “Tequilas Finos” being savored neat in a snifter, chilled or on the rocks. It’s with this that 888 Tres Ochos tequila originates in the fertile volcanic soil of the lowlands of Jalisco, Mexico, and is made from 100% tequilana azul weber agave, giving a nod to the taste and quality reminiscent of tequila’s historically crushed by tahona roca.
There’s also a belief that the handcrafted 888 Tres Ochos tequila “captures the heart of Mexico, the pure spirit of 100% agave, celebrates the history of tequila and the philosophy of Asian beliefs”, combining the number 888 within the Asian community as seen as ‘Health, Luck and Prosperity’, symbolizing both the importance and intrinsic value of the numbers “888” in Asian society.
So how do each of the three expressions fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
888 Tres Ochos Silver– 40%
Soft agave notes on the nose, with hints of vanilla and a slight herb note. Very soft upon the palate, with the creamy texture of the fresh agave coming through. Slight butter notes, with smooth sweetened honey flavours on the long finish.
888 Tres Ochos Reposado – 40%
Gently rested and traditionally aged in white oak barrels. Bold honey and fudge notes on the nose, with a sweet agave aromas following. Light upon the palate, thin with a developing dry spice. Citrus flavours come through on the long, lively finish.
888 Tres Ochos Anejo – 40%
Extra-aged in white oak barrels. Very light on the nose, with soft hints of dry agave and slight earthy notes. Very soft, with light kicks of caramel and citrus combining on the palate, turning to a very dry, oaked texture, with a slight charcoal finish.
An interesting set of expressions, with the Silver a surprising sipper, and the Reposado one for any occasion, and would make a fantastic Tommy’s Margarita. The Anejo is one for the sipping crowd too, but lacks the punch that the Reposado gives. A beautiful looking bottle with its slender shape and agave plant label design really stands out on a shelf, and one to be on your back bar or drinks cabinet for sure!
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.
With the career that I have, it is important for me to experience as much as possible so that I am aware of the various expressions, and to target specific audiences with my knowledge. It is with this that I have decided to cover one of the best-selling tequila in the world, Jose Cuervo.
Back in 1758, Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo was issued a land grant by King Ferdinand VI of Spain in the town of Tequila, Jalisco. Here his family founded the Taberna de Cuervo, the farm where they would cultivate and harvest the important blue agave plant, the basis of all tequila. January 15th 1795 saw the first sales, and became the first official distillery (named La Rojeña and is now the oldest active distillery in Latin America) in the town of Santiago de Tequila with rights to sell the product outside the Nueva Galicia jurisdiction. By 1880, the Cuervo family had begun individually bottling tequila for commercial distribution, a far cry from other tequila producers who still used barrels.
Upon the death of Don Jesus, his wife, Ana Gonzalez Rubio, inherited the La Rojeña distillery and in 1900 married Jose Cuervo Labastida. From then on, the brand became Jose Cuervo Tequila. After Ana Gonzalez Rubio’s death in 1934, the estate was left to her niece Guadalupe Gallardo, who died in 1966 and left the estate to her sister, Virginia Gallardo. One of her sons, Juan Beckmann Gallardo, would manage the business. Part of Cuervo was owned by Distribuidora Bega, and, starting in 1979, the other part was owned by Grupo Cuervo, made up of Beckmann, his son Juan Beckmann Vidal, Jose Luis Campos, and Heublein Inc.
Along with Sauza, Jose Cuervo began to dominate the tequila industry in the 1940’s. Tequila first made significant inroads into the United States during the prohibition era, when it was smuggled from Mexico into southwestern US states. Tequila made further advances in the US during World War II, when many US distilleries switched to war-related production and there were restrictions on European imports, followed by a boom in American tourists visiting Mexico in the 1980’s.
In 1989, the Beckmann family sold 45% of Jose Cuervo to International Distillers and Vintners (IDV), a division of Grand Metropolitan PLC. In 1997, Grand Metropolitan was renamed Diageo and would be Jose Cuervo’s main distributor outside of Mexico until 2013. Since then, Proximo Spirits, a company owned by the Beckmann family, took over Jose Cuervo’s distribution.
So a great rise in the ranks, coupled with taking advantage of a time where the rest of the liquor market struggled, has made Jose Cuervo to the status it now achieves. But how do you go about creating such a product?
The blue agave plant leaves are chopped off and the core is cooked and crushed to create juice, which is fermented and distilled to make tequila. The resulting unaged, clear tequila is then diluted with water to bring the alcohol content down to around 40%.
Pure tequila is distilled 100% from the sap of the blue agave plant, while mixto tequila only need to be at least 51% blue agave in order to legally be called tequila. Back in 1964, tequila makers were allowed to obtain up to 30% of the sugars in tequila from sources other than the agave plant. During a blue agave shortage in the 1970s, Mexican regulations were further revised to require that tequila contain only 51.5% agave.
So how does the range of Jose Cuervo fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Jose Cuervo Clasico – 38%
A sweet nose with a rather gentle, floral aroma with hints of agave. Surprisingly clean on the palate. Soft, delicate and good flavours of agave and sweetness.
Jose Cuervo Especial Reposado – 38%
Made from a blend of reposado (aged) and younger tequilas. Light floral aromas with a hint of agave to finish. Rather light on the palate too, with a developing dry warmth with subtle kicks of spice. A little sweet near the finish, and hints of honey. Short.
Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado – 38%
Made from 100% blue agave and rested in white oak barrels. Soft agave notes on the nose, with a natural sweetness and slight earthy notes. Sweet upon the palate, with thick notes of agave, fudge and thin spice. Warm finish that lingers.
I can imagine that majority of you would have had at some point a shot of Jose Cuervo with salt and lime. But the brand can also be credited for a classic tequila cocktail, the Margarita –
The Cuervo Margarita
30 ml Jose Cuervo Especial Gold
90 ml Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix, Classic Lime
1 lime 1 tsp kosher salt
Cut lime in slices. Rub rim of chilled rocks glass with lime slice, dip into salt to coat, and fill with ice. In a shaker with ice, add Jose Cuervo Especial Gold and Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix. Shake well and strain into glass. Garnish with lime wedge.
The Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix is just one of several within the range that you can acquire. The Tradicional expressions are popular within bars, and the new Cinge and premium Reserva de la Familia can be seen popping up every once in a while. The brand is versatile, so don’t be afraid to add to you drinks cabinet.
Herencia Mexicana is a new tequila that is making a stamp on the market here in the UK.
Created using 100% blue agave and double distilled, Herencia Mexicana is produced in ‘The Positos Ranch’ or Destilería La Fortuna, which is located in Arandas County in Jalisco, Mexico. ‘The Positos Ranch’ was bought in 1865 by Don Miguel Orozco Navarro and was in the family legacy for two generations until 1986 and Don Jesús Orozco Torres. Carlos Muñoz Veytia, part of the 5th generation, is the current managing partner of the company and the first in the family to develop a tequila brand of their own, Herencia, in 2003.
Legend has it that in 1872, Don Pantaleón Orozco, cousin and godfather of Don José María Orozco was the one who brought the very first agave plants to the region from Amatitán, Jalisco. The plants were a gift from Don Cenobio Sauza, to be planted in the ‘Los Altos’ region where ‘The Positos Ranch’ is located and grew in the hill called ‘El Caracol’ area belonging to ‘The Positos Ranch’.
So how is Herencia created?
Herencia use agave plants at the peak of ripeness (at least 7 years) and once its leaves are removed, the piñas are placed in small brick ovens where they are steam cooked for at least 28 hours. After the cooking, the baked piñas are taken by hand to the mill where they are gently crushed in a three stage process which extracts only the first juice from the agave. The juice is then put inside a 6000 litre tank, ready for natural fermentation that lasts approx. 72 hours. The resulting wort or ‘mosto’ is divided into three parts – the heads, heart and tails. The heads and tails are discarded whilst the heart is placed within a small copper pot still. Once distilled, the resulting distillate becomes their Blanco which allowed to rest in stainless steel tanks for 45 days before bottling. Some of the Blanco is stored within white oak barrels (ex Jack Daniel’s) where it remains for 9 months to obtain the status of Reposado, and 3 years to obtain the status of Añejo.
So how does this family rooted tequila fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on each –
Herencia Mexicana Blanco – 40%
Slight citrus and herbal notes on the nose, with a clean, slight corn flavour on the palate. Warmth develops with a slow spice building up nicely near the end. Long and lingering.
Herencia Mexicana Reposado – 40%
Citrus and wood blend nicely on the nose, followed by a more wood dominant flavour on the palate. Sharp spice arrives quickly and creates a very long, dry finish.
Herencia Mexicana Añejo – 40%
Delicate aromatic notes on the nose with vanilla coming through slightly. The vanilla and wood blend well to produce a lively and rich finish. Short but memorable.
A great range where all three show off something different. One to keep neat or over ice and to be enjoyed. I’ve been unable to find it available to buy as of yet, but the UK has only just been introduced so expect this to be flying out from various retailers once the bartenders get their hands on it!
Herradura is a tequila distiller located in Amatitán, Jalisco, Mexico. It was formally founded in 1870 by Félix López and the business remained in the family for over 125 years. Not a bad legacy to still have one could say! So how did it all come about for us all to enjoy?
After beginning with Félix López, who began as the distillery administrator under then owners Josefa Salazar and her sons, López took over the distillery and agave fields in 1870 and registered it as a tequila producer under the name of Hacienda San José del Refugio. Félix López married Carmen Rosales and they had two children, Aurelio and María de Jesús. The couple modernized the production of tequila at the hacienda, building a facility that remained in use until 1963. López died in 1878 and Rosales took over the business along with her brother Ambrosio Rosales and his wife Elisa Gomez Cuervo. Later, the business was inherited by Aurelio López.
The construction of railroads in the late 19th century allowed for easier shipping to other parts of Mexico and increased tequila’s popularity in the country. By this time the hacienda’s tequila was well-known, with Aurelio giving it the name of Herradura. The name, which means horseshoe in Spanish, is a said to have come from the finding of a horseshoe on the hacienda property. Stories vary but the one told by the company’s website says that it was found in the early 1900’s by Aurelio, while inspecting the agave fields. It gleamed like gold and the horseshoe was kept for luck, naming the tequila after it. In the 1920’s the Cristero War broke out, with both Aurelio and his sister María de Jesus as sympathizers. At one point, government troops surrounded the hacienda but the siblings were able to escape. However, Aurelio never returned again.
The hacienda passed into the hand of Aurelio’s cousin David Rosales, who kept the tequila 100% agave despite the trend towards blending to cut costs. In 1928, he registered the Herradura brand in Mexico City with a horseshoe as its logo. The hacienda and the Herradura brand remained in the family for over a century. In the 1960’s, the old factory was shut down in favour of a new one, but kept as a museum. During this time, Herradura Añejo was introduced with Reposado introduced in 1974. In 1994, el Jimador was introduced and became the #1 seller in Mexico.
So how is Herradura created?
Herradura begins with the harvest of 100% blue agave plants after 7 to 10 years of growth. After slicing off the green outer leaves, it leaves the large agave ‘piñas’. The piñas are brought in from the fields, cut in half and placed within the traditional ovens made of bricks and stone. The piñas are then steamed for up to 26 hours before being crushed to extract the juice and poured into open tanks.
Natural wild air-borne yeasts growing on agave plants and citrus trees living at the distillery are used in the Casa Herradura fermentation process. The juice will remain between four and seven days in the tanks before being distilled. Herradura uses slow distillation, a tradition not often practiced these days, meaning heating the liquid at slightly lower temperatures. There are two distillations; the first takes 3 ½ hours, and the second takes 5 hours.
Herradura is one of México’s largest barrel holders, using only oak barrels imported from Kentucky to mature their tequila. Herradura is aged longer than it needs to by law, but does it make any difference? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on the range –
Herradura Plata– 40%
Aged for forty days. Very soft and clean with cooked agave notes on the nose. Soft on the palate too with slight flavours of the wood coming through. Lingers whilst it creates a mouth-watering finish.
Herradura Reposado– 40%
Aged for 11 months. Soft on the nose with delicate dry wood and spice aromas. Developing spice on the palate with sweet vanilla and hints of powdered cinnamon. Short.
Herradura Añejo– 40%
Aged for two years. Intense oak with nut aromas coming through. Incredibly smooth on the palate with sweet fruit flavours coming through. Rather creamy with a long finish.
A fantastic range of tequila, with the extra ageing creating something a little bit special. Great on their own or over ice, or maybe one of these –
The Hacienda Fizz
50 ml Herradura Plata
10 ml Fresh lemon juice
15 ml Herradura Agave Syrup
2 Dashes of Fee Brothers Orange Bitters
Add all ingredients except the water to a hi-ball glass filled with ice and stir thoroughly. Top up with the sparkling water, garnish with a slice of lemon.
Have to love a versatile product! One to definitely stock in your drinks cabinet, or indeed if you ever see any of the range in your local bar. Worth a go.
Patrón is one of the most recognisable brands in the world. The distinct shape of the bottle, the highly rated liquid produced and the fact that it’s not been around for long makes Patrón one of the most talked-about brands in the world, and it’s done wonders for the tequila category. But what is it exactly that’s made Patrón stand out? Lets take a look.
Patrón originates from Casa 7 Leguas, one of the oldest Mexican distilleries, but in 1989, John Paul DeJoria and Martin Crowley of St. Maarten Spirits purchased the brand rights and in 2002 moved production to a new distillery, Hacienda del Patrón within the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. It is here that Patrón is created, using harvested 100% Blue Weber agave piña that are first steamed for 79 hours in traditional masonry ovens, before being shredded and macerated using the traditional method of Tahona. Another method, known as the roller mill, is also used, but both are created separately and then blended together. The juice from the macerated agave is transferred to wooden tanks where the fermentation process occurs for 72 hours. This creates a ‘must’ which is then twice distilled in copper pot stills. After each distillation, filtration and blending taking place, all overseen by Master Distiller Francisco Alcaraz, who is also credited for the recipe that Patrón abide by.
The bottles themselves are a thing of beauty. The ovens used to make the Patrón bottles were designed specifically to produce them. The glass artisan measures the amount of glass used to make a Patrón bottle by hand, with each Patrón bottle individually handmade by the artisan and using recycled glass, save the pure crystal Gran Patrón. Each bottle is carefully hand inspected at every stage for shape, volume, clarity and beauty, looking for any imperfections. Fourteen distinct criteria are used to assure quality. Each bottle is individually washed in tequila before it is filled. Workers individually label, hand tie ribbons and wipe the bottle free of dust. The final product is then cradled in paper and boxed.
It’s the liquids that are ultimately the selling point, so below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Patrón Silver – 40%
Fudge and white chocolate aromas upon the nose, with hints of dry pepper, earthy notes and a slight citrus. Sharp, white pepper flavours on the palate, fresh, with a slightly sweet, bold kick of agave that creates a very long finish.
Patrón Reposado – 40%
Aged for 6 to 8 months within ex French, Hungarian and American oak barrels. Plenty of dry oak with vanilla and toffee blending well. Slight smoke near the finish too. Smooth, silky texture on the palate with plenty of agave that creates a sweet finish.
Patrón Añejo – 40%
Aged for 16 months within ex French, Hungarian and American oak barrels. Butterscotch aromas with fudge, vanilla and citrus all on the nose. Soft agave follows nicely. Very smooth upon the palate, with plenty of agave that develops a spice flavour for a dry finish.
Patrón XO Cafe – 35%
A blend of Patrón Silver and infused Mexican coffee beans. Rich, fresh coffee with slight vanilla notes on the nose. Freshly roasted coffee and thick vanilla combine on the palate to create a sweet flavour, but soon disappears.
Patrón Citrónge – 40%
A blend of Patrón Silver infused with lemon and orange peel. Light citrus notes on the nose, with smooth, sweet aroma of agave coming through. Very sweet on the palate though, with sharp orange that mellows into a clean, lingering finish of orange and agave.
A really good range available, and as you can imagine, there have been many bartenders taking full advantage –
Frappe XO Extreme
45 ml Patrón Añejo
30 ml Patrón XO Cafe
15 ml Chocolate syrup
2 scoops vanilla ice cream
Swirl the glass with chocolate syrup. Combine the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into the glass.
Patrón have a couple of exclusive expressions that you can find on the odd occasion, including Gran Patrón Piedra Extra Añejo, matured for three years within French and American oak, and Gran Patrón Platinum which is triple distilled. But it’s the main core expressions that stand out not only on the bar, but in flavour and aroma. Quite possibly one of the best silver tequila’s I’ve ever had too. Join me in grabbing a few bottles for your cabinet.
One category that I’ve been enjoying a lot of lately is tequila. I’ve been surrounded by many brands lately and I’ve never once complained. Excellia is one of them.
Excellia is the result of a partnership between two men – Jean-Sebastien Robicquet, founder of EWG Spirits & Wine, ground-breaking brand creator and producer (G’Vine gin and Esprit de June liqueur) and Carlos Camarena, precursor and award-winning tequila master-distiller (Tapatio and El Tesoro tequilas) and the origin of the “Extra-Anejo” category. To create something different, the two gentleman brought together three different regions –
Los Altos (Jalisco, Mexico) – A hot and dry climate followed by a heavy rainy season and the rich red clay soil rich in minerals of the highlands generate sweet, soft and fruity agaves.
Sauternes region (France) – A micro-climate with foggy mornings, sunny afternoons by the river and botrytis create the Grand Cru of dessert wine with delicate notes of dried fruits and flowers and a perfect balance between acidity and sugar.
Cognac region (France) – A lot of sun with the right amount of rain, mild temperatures all year-long thanks to the ocean’s influence and the region’s chalky soil contribute to the finest brandy and its so specific rancio character.
Jalisco is also the region where Excellia is handcrafted and made using 100% agave Tequilana Weber Blue that is cut by hand after 8-10 years of maturity. Once the agave is considered ripe and ready (showcased by red marks on the piña), the long leaves are cut and separate the piñas (the core of the agave) from the plant. The piñas are then transported to the distillery La Alteña and cut into quarters. It’s steam cooked slowly for 36 hours using traditional bricks and stone ovens, being shredded and crushed straight after and then fermented in wooden vats for 7 to 10 days before being distilled twice within copper stills. Once distilled, the tequila is aged within Grand Cru Sauternes wine casks and in Cognac barrels. The Sauternes wine casks have been used to produce only one vintage, meaning two or three years. It is then aged within Cognac casks that have been used for more than 20 years to age renowned cognacs. Once aged, the master blender marries the two different aged tequilas and creates the different recipes for the Blanco, Reposado and Añejo,
The three strong portfolio is the result, with each below named alongside my tasting notes –
Excellia Blanco– 40%
Rested a few weeks in Grand Cru Sauternes wine casks and Cognac barrels. Light notes of oak and cloves, with a developing spice on the palate. Slight vanilla and ripe fruit blend well and create a lingering finish with a slight warmth.
Exellia Reposado – 40%
Nine months ageing in Grand Cru Sauternes wine casks and Cognac barrels. Plenty of dried herbs on the nose with a slight honey aroma. Rich, ripe fruits on the palate with a slight honey and caramel feel, followed by a long, slightly spicy finish that becomes a little dry.
Excellia Añejo– 40%
Aged eighteen months. Light apricot and grape aromas on the nose with a slight oak scent. A bold flavour of fresh wood and sweetness on the palate, developing into a mellow finish of soft spice.
A fantastic range, with the Reposado going fantastic with this –
40 ml Excellia Reposado
25 ml Coffee liqueur
45 ml Espresso coffee
5 ml Sugar syrup
Shake the ingredients hard with ice. Strain into a frozen Martini glass. Garnish with three coffee beans.
A great twist, and it makes it that little bit better knowing that the Reposado is also an award-winner, winning Double Gold in the Best Reposado Tequila category at the San Francisco International World Spirits Competition 2011. The Blanco too also won a Gold medal at the same awards, with the Añejo winning Double Gold as well.
A great range on offer, versatile within cocktails and on its own. Grab a bottle and marvel at the Mexican / French relationship.
Check out the rest of the photos, taken at The Circle 360, via my Facebook page.
After showcasing tequila recently, I’ve been waiting to try out one that has caught my eye in more the bottle than anything. Once you realise the brand, and the logo, you can understand the link – its name? Olmeca.
Olmeca is produced at Destileria Colonial de Jalisco in the town of Arandas, Jalisco in Western Mexico which incidentally is 2104 metres above sea level. Operation at the plant is overseen by Maestro Tequilero Jesús Hernández and as the Master Distiller he is responsible for supervising the hand-selected blue agave picked after 7–8 years of growth. Once harvested, traditional brick ovens are then used to slow cook the piñas. Part of the production process at Olmeca involves using the 500-year-old traditional and artisanal Tahona method, which consists of a 2 tonne millstone made of volcanic rock, known locally as Tezontle. Once the Agave piñas have been harvested and cooked, they are crushed by the Tahona, creating a pulp and drawing out the juice from the fibres. This juice is referred to as Tahona Liquid, of which a percentage is integrated into the fermentation and distillation process of all Olmeca Tequilas, with Olmeca Tezón exclusively containing 100% Tahona Liquid.
So a rather unique and traditional method to create the range of Olmeca, but how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Olmeca Altos – 38%
Lots of fruit and herbs on the nose with citrus following closely. Smooth beginning on the palate that develops into a well-balanced citrus led flavour with hints of wood smoke and a long subtle spice offering.
A great sipping tequila, but if this tickles your fancy, then be my guest –
Tequila Con Sangrita
Tequila in a stem glass, Sangrita in a side shot glass
50 ml Olmeca Altos
750 ml Tomato juice
100 ml Fresh orange juice
100 ml Fresh lemon juice
25 ml Tabasco
Combine all the ingredients, except for the tequila, in a blender and blend until frothy. Cover and refrigerate for the flavors to marry. To serve, pour the sangrita into stemmed glasses. Pour the tequila into shot glasses.
A cheeky little variation to drinking it neat. There are many other variations within the Olmeca brand, including a Reposado and the Tezón range mentioned above. A great addition to any bar or drinks cabinet.
Check out the rest of the photos, taken at The Circle 360, via my Facebook page.
Tequila is another one of those brands that can split opinion right down the middle. As explained when i touched on blended whisky, stigma seems to carry most onto the trend that tequila is there to be slammed down with some salt, lemon and lime. Well i couldn’t agree more. It’s traditional to mask the taste of tequila with citrus and salt just to make the experience more palatable. But what you shoot in the bars and pubs is not the good stuff, and in good stuff i mean made using 100% blue agave. To non-tequila fans that means nothing, but a staple in the tequila world in Don Julio is more than happy to show the way.
The journey of creating Don Julio is a process in that each bottle consists of 100% pure blue Weber agave plants from the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. Each plant is allowed to grow for seven to ten years before being harvested which develops its unique flavour for Don Julio. Aged in American white-oak barrels, Don Julio has been able to create the worlds first luxury tequila. And it all came about due to one man.
Don Julio is named after its founder, Don Julio González-Frausto Estrada, who began distilling tequila in 1942 at age 17. Gonzalez-Frausto established his own distillery, La Primavera in Jalisco, Mexico, and spent the next 40 years improving his craft. In 1985, Don Julio González-Frausto celebrated his 60th Birthday, with his sons commemorating the date by creating a Tequila in his name, Don Julio. After guests enquired if it will be available for sale and following the sheer popularity of the tequila in Guadalajara and neighbouring cities, they decided to launch the tequila in 1987.
So a relatively new tequila, created essentially as a birthday present. But how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on each expression that I’ve been lucky enough to experience –
Don Julio Blanco– 38%
Soft notes of citrus and lime on the nose that develops into a smooth offering on the palate. Quite light to begin but has a heavier finish with hints of pepper lingering.
Don Julio Reposado– 38%
Barrel aged for 8 months. Soft lemon and fruit aromas on the nose followed by delicate hit of spice. Very soft on the palate with vanilla and cinnamon mixing well. Sweet ending.
As you can imagine, the versatility of Don Julio can also rack up some impressive cocktails –
30 ml Don Julio Reposado
60 ml Grapefruit Juice
Splash of Lemon-Lime Soda
Salt Rim (optional)
Combine Don Julio Reposado and grapefruit juice in an ice-filled highball glass. Top with a splash of lemon-lime soda and garnish with a lime slice. Salt rim optional.
Blanco Lxury Margarita
50 ml Chilled Don Julio Blanco
20 ml Agave Nectar
20 ml Fresh Lime Juice
Mix Don Julio Blanco, agave nectar and lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake well. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with a lime twist.
The great thing about Don Julio is that its versatility doesn’t just stop at cocktails, it’s also a great food pairing –
Farmer’s Cheese With Herbs
1 Farmer’s Cheese (from Los Altos)
1 Romaine lettuce
1 Package of pita bread
The day before, cut the cheese into small squares and marinate it with olive oil, oregano, thyme and basil. Wash the lettuce and tear into small pieces by hand. Make a bed with the lettuce, then spread the cheese with herbs on top and serve the pita bread on the side.
Pairing With Don Julio Blanco –
The lactic tones of the farmer’s cheese are heightened by the spices. The olive oil gives it very nice tones when accompanied with Don Julio Blanco, as the sweet notes of the cooked and raw agave, with its fruity and delicate spicy and herbal tones, enhance the cheese’s flavor and bring out the herbal notes of the spices.
I always find your onto a winner when you can really use your spirit collection in so many ways. Grab yourself a bottle and get creative!