My first trip to Tequila was on a "Day Tour" from Puerto Vallarta, in May of 2006. Besides the very long ride, our time in Tequila was extremely quick, 1 hour at La Cofradia, 1 hour for lunch (at a place that I believe is over by Pemex, but have never been to again), and about 20 minutes to see the town.
On our way there, we stopped at some ruins (lost the pics), and “played” with some volcanic rocks. After about 4 hours, we finally get to town and we make the right hand turn to go to Cofradia, and I see homes that are not in the very best of shape, and my thoughts were not “wow, this town is a dump”, but rather “this must me a real humble town, to not have a façade, and to care less about what tourist think”. For me, I really appreciated that quality, and I found a certain beauty in it. But once we got to La Cofradia, it took on a whole new ball game. The pictures that I had seen, just didn’t do it justice. It was a very tranquil and pretty place, with large mango trees, a duck pond, and snfffff, the sweet smell of cooked agave! Our tour guide who was with the tour company - not La Cofradia – gave us a basic tour of the distillery (got to taste cooked agave for the first time!), then took us to the barrel room for a tasting of mixto, blanco, repo, and añejo. For the blanco, he said “this, you want to throw back”, and after taking my time sipping it, he scolded me – what a schmuk! So we end that tasting with Casa Noble añejo, spend some time looking at souvenirs and tasting the original La Pinta and some of the flavored mixtos they had blended with Sprite (or something like that – and yes, I did like it!) as well as a look inside the museum next door. Then it was off to lunch, and then a quick trip to town.
Of course 20 minutes was not enough as I need time to find as full set of Los Abuelos tequila and have a Batanga at La Capilla. Well, I’m draggin my wife all over town like a blind man looking for the Sauza museum to purchase my first set of Los Abuelos, I forgot about the museum part and only ask about Sauza. Which of course, I am pointed in the right direction, but with only minutes to spare we step into the liquor store that is on the corner across from the church, and they had a full set for me. We buy ‘em and get on the bus in the nick of time. Not that I would have minded staying there, but my wife, Elizabeth would have beat my ass! Haha!! Not til later did I realize that we had past both the Sauza museum and La Capilla.
For anybody that plans on making a visit to Tequila from Puerta Vallarta on a bus, make sure that bus has a bathroom. Ours did not. And it made a very long and uncomfortable trip.
This is a GREAT video about 33 minutes or so, that is made about traditional Mezcal production and culture in the state of Michoacan - and it is subtitled in English too! Documezcal
I hear that phrase a lot of the time when someone wants something for mixed drinks or shooters. And while I understand not wanting to spend $50 on a bottle of tequila, especially if it’s not for sipping, there are lots of good, pure, 100% agave tequilas for less than $20. A few brands that are currently on the market that make a good product for a great price are Espolon, Pueblo Viejo, 30-30, El Ultimo Agave, and Camarena. If you can’t find them, ask your local liquor store, and if it’s not there, you can always check with HiTime Wines or Shoppers Vineyard (and sometimes these guys have really great deals on some really good tequilas!!!). The other thing about getting “cheap” mixto tequila - which is NOT real tequila! It is basically a blend of tequila and rum, and we all know that we are not supposed to mix our liquors! Brands such as Jose Cuervo Especial, Sauza, Montezuma, and the such are the ones that you may end up paying for it later that night or the next day praying to the porcelain god and or laying in bed with a gnarly hangover. You will pay for your tequila one way or another-either physically or thru the wallet. Me? I’d rather have a lighter wallet than hangover. Besides, the 100% agave tequila will taste a lot better than that bottle of mixto Gold.
Originally posted September 15, 2010
Often, people will ask me, “What is the smoothest tequila”. And for that, I say, there is no correct answer. The reason for that is, we all have different ideas and expectations for what “smooth” is. Some people may say that smooth is anything that doesn’t feel like your throat is being ripped out. Others may say that smooth, should have a soft feel and texture with a simple finish. How a tequila, mezcal, sotol, etc reacts with your palate has a lot to do with other factors such as previous experiences with spirits (or lack there of), the weather, what you have eaten or drank, or just your mood. These are many of the factors change from day to day. One of the biggest misconceptions about agave spirits is that the longer it is aged, the better or “smoother” is. Well, for some people, that can be true. But the amazing thing about an agave distillate, is that there is so much flavor, depth, and complexity to what comes fresh from the stills, that the aging process doesn’t necessarily make it better, just different.
Before I recommend a brand or style (blanco, reposado, or añejo), I will first ask them what other spirits they like to drink, as well as what tequilas they’ve had that they liked and do not like.
If the person prefers whiskey, cognac, aged rum, and /or red wine, I will recommend an añejo or maybe a reposado. If the person likes vodka, white rum, gin or sauvignon blanc I will suggest a blanco.
Now, within the aged products, the type of barrel used and how long it aged for, is a HUGE factor in determining its flavors, texture, and “smoothness“. While some people love the vanilla, caramel, and nutty elements in a product that has been aged in a new American oak barrel, the person next to them ,might notice only the heat that comes from the charring of the barrel and feel like their mouth has been set on fire. One person likes it and the other doesn’t think that it is “smooth“, but it’s the same product. So really it does come down to personal preference and what you like. But, what you like now, may not be the same 2 years from now.
I was at a tequila party recently and had 3 people (2 guys, 1 girl) taste Milagro reposado and Milagro Select Barrel reposado - blind. I chose these 2 tequilas because they both have the same production process the only difference is that the regular reposado is aged in used American whiskey barrels and the Barrel Select is aged in used French oak barrels. While 2 people liked the Barrel select more, and thought it was “smoother“, the other preferred the regular reposado. Myself? Well, the Barrel Select has light and sweet elements, while the regular reposado is a bit bigger and a touch earthier. So for me, I preferred the taste when I blended them together as they seemed to develop more depth and complexity.
Originally posted Wednesday September 15, 2010
Living in California, I get to have the greatest selection of tequila in the United States! And since I live so close to Tijuana, I can walk across the border and have an even better selection! Yes, living here in SoCal is a beautiful thing. But, I know I am very lucky and fortunate luck to not live in an Alcohol Beverage Controled state! To have someone tell me or you that only brands X, Y, and Z are available is way beyond not cool. It borders on being communist. If I can choose what jeans I want to wear, I can choose what brand of spirit I want to drink! Just because a certain brand doesn’t have the cash to grease your greedy pockets, does not give you the right to pick the brands that I can choose from. And then to say that it is illegal to have someone ship spirits into said ABC state? We are in the 21st century, not the 19th. Prohibition is dead, the internet rules and your laws are as old and useless as a 8 track tape player!And since I am on this subject, border states can kiss my ass too! Saying I’m only allowed one liter of tequila from across the border every 30 days? It’s tequila - not guns, not drugs. If you want your want your tax money, I’ll give you your whopping $1.65 for each bottle. In fact, I’ll make it an even $2! Just let me fill out the paper work before I get in line and we’re all good. And yes, it is that easy!
One day, I hope to be able to shop at his, and the many other killer liquor stores in Mexico with out being hassled by the out dated liquor laws of the United states of America!
Originally posted September 15, 2010