• blind-judging-50-ml-bottles

Imagine sitting down at a table with 2 glasses of tequila (or any high-proof spirit) in front of you. Your job is to smell and taste both, and then decide which you like better. Sounds like a fun time, right?

Spirits of Mexico - Rating ScoresheetNow imaging having to taste 50 tequilas (or any high-proof spirit) in a single sitting and within a few hours, and choose which you like better. Do you think you could do it? I was given that opportunity recently as a judge for the Spirits of Mexico competition in San Diego, the biggest and most prestigious tequila event of every year.

Together with about 10 other judges, sitting in the same hotel conference room, I went about the task of evaluating 99 different agave-based distillates over the course of 2 days. This task was not easy. I found that after about 6 tequilas, my abilities were diminished. By the 12th tequila, I felt like I was no longer able to trust my judgment. Not because I was drunk (we were wisely instructed not to swallow), but because of palate fatigue.

Some of the others in the group were ‘professional tasters’ who seemed to be able to get through all of these spirits without issue. When things started getting really rough (especially when we were tasting the flavor-saturated extra añejo tequilas), they would swish vodka around in their mouths as a way to reset their palate between glasses. (Hardcore!)

Spirits of Mexico - Blanco Tequilas

I’m definitely not a professional taster. I love tequila, but I’m just an “end user”, fan, loyal customer, and an advocate for the spirit. I never claimed to be an expert taster, so I can only assume that I was selected to participate as a contest judge because my only experience is that of a consumer of tequila.

My respect goes out to those unique individuals who can taste and evaluate at this level. Their abilities are impressive, and they clearly have special talents. The experience was indeed fascinating, and I don’t regret any of it. In those two days, I learned a lot from them, and I am grateful.

In the past several years, I’d heard from other contest judges that palate fatigue was their biggest challenge, too. When asked if they would judge another spirits competition again, their answer is always “no, I don’t think so.” Now I can relate.

I couldn’t help but start to think that maybe there was a better way, and that our app could help.

A year ago, we met Crystal Murphy and Omar Mercado who run the Monterey Tequila & Mezcal Expo. They had just completed their contest judging, and it followed the traditional process with all of the judges in the same room at the same time. I heard talk of palate fatigue among the judges once again, so I offered to help. Crystal and Omar immediately accepted my invitation.

Tequila Matchmaker Group Blind Ratings Process

The Tequila Matchmaker app has always had the ability for a user to rate a tequila blind, but this feature didn’t work for more than one person at a time, so we added a new feature that would make “group blind ratings” possible.

No more palate fatigue.

Tequila Blind Rating ScreenWith this tool, the Monterey Tequila & Mezcal Expo broke new ground. The judges were sent 50ml bottles, labeled “A”, “B”, “C”, etc., which corresponded to an item inside of the app. They could review the samples over the span of month, from the comfort of their own home, and use the app to step them through the process and provide a common set of criteria.

Since I knew all of the tequilas in the contest, I wasn’t able to participate as a judge. However, Scarlet was one of the eight judges so I had a front-row seat right from my own home. She had no idea which tequilas she was tasting. She followed the judging instructions carefully. She took her time, tasted 3 at a time, and sometimes went back again if scores were close to refine her ratings. She rated everything in the same room, at the same time of day, using the same glassware.

I was also able to watch what all the other judges were doing through the back-end administration console used to run the group blind rating function. This way I could identify any judge who may be having technical problems, or needed extra time.

Another issue of concern with traditional competitions, especially among brands who entered the contest, was the issue of transparency. This was yet another area we could address with our app simply by disclosing all of the scores from all of the judges, and making this information public.

By displaying this information in graphical form, you can actually see trends among the judges, their own flavor preferences, and any biases they may have. It provides the justification to the awards.

No more mysterious ratings.

Although there are many spirit competitions in the world, many brands refuse to enter them. Faith in the fairness of the process is usually the reason. Brands that already have an established reputation don’t stand to gain from contests. A win is expected, anything else can only hurt, so why bother?

In a traditional competition, the goal is to award a medal. That’s basically it. If you win, or if you don’t, you aren’t going to learn anything from the experience. There is very little a brand can take away from the experience that will help them improve their product or marketing.

I can’t help but wonder if brands knew they would get useful data from the experience, would more of them enter?

Monterey Tequila Competition - Results[ View complete results: Monterey 2013 ]

Using the app, we are able to extract the ratings information and show a brand exactly why they rated they way they did. Perhaps they scored high on aroma, but low on finish. Perhaps their tequila is priced too high, or too low? Maybe their tequila is too sweet for several of the judges. By sharing the data, brands can find out.

Contests should be more than medals and awards. They should help improve the category be providing actionable data and objective feedback.

– Grover

Here’s how you can give the Tequila Matchmaker enough information about your tequila preferences so that it will start giving you recommendations on what to try:

Transcript of the video:

Hi, this is Grover from TasteTequila.com and the Tequila Matchmaker, and I am going to show you how easy it is to start getting your own tequila matches from the Tequila Matchmaker app.

It’s pretty simple, really. The more you use it, the smarter it gets. The app will look at patterns found in your likes and dislikes and start figuring you out – then it will offer up suggestions for tequilas that you should try.

As you can see here in my personal profile screen, it’s full of zeros. That’s because it’s a new account and I haven’t entered any information yet. So, let’s change that.

Let’s pretend I am in a bar and the bartender has just poured me a glass of Casa Noble Reposado, I’ve tasted it, and, hey, it’s pretty good!

One really fast and simple way to start giving the app some useful data is to tap the “LIKE” button on a tequila’s profile screen.

If you went through the app and simply tapped “like” on all of the tequilas the you already know that you enjoy, the app will start getting enough information to give you custom tailored recommendations.

If you want to give the app even more information, you can RATE the tequila too. Tap the “Rate This Tequila” button. From here you can tell the app what you think about the tequila’s AROMA, FLAVOR, FINISH, and VALUE (was it worth the price you paid for it?)

Then you tell the app if you would BUY OR DRINK IT AGAIN, and if you would RECOMMEND IT TO A FRIEND.

If you have any tasting notes, you can enter them in the NOTES area. You can SHARE THIS REVIEW with everyone else, or you can opt to keep it private.

Then tap SAVE.

Pretty simple, right?

Now, let’s say you happen to know that you really like a brand, in this case, Casa Noble.

You can tap “LIKE” on a brand screen as well.

This doesn’t factor into the matching, but it does let you show that brand some appreciation.

To see your matches, just tap on the PROFILE button, then YOUR TEQUILA MATCHES.

Remember, the more you use it, the smarter it gets and the more accurate the suggestions will be.

And finally, this really comes in handy when you’re at a tequila bar and you’re trying to decide what tequila to order from a menu.

One tequila selection that we really like can be found at Colibri in San Francisco. So let’s use them as an example.

When we go to their profile screen in the app we can select MATCHES FOUND HERE and it will try and make the best match possible from the tequila selection on their bar.

These are the tequilas that the Tequila Matchmaker thinks I should try, based on the information I’ve given it so far (which is not all that much yet.)

Remember how we rated Casa Noble Reposado already?

It’s showing up in this list of FAVORITES FOUND HERE, so you can quickly scan from a list of the tequilas that you already tried and rated before.

The Tequila Matchmaker is a FREE app, and it’s available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. You can get it by going to TequilaMatchmaker.com.

  • tequila-and-sangrita

Hey, it’s Cinco de Mayo, and that means drinking Mexican booze and beer with wild abandon! Or does it? Instead of reliving your binge-drinking college days, why not take the time to celebrate the day with some super classy tequila cocktails?

We’ve compiled a list of tequila cocktails that you can make at home that will impress your friends and make you look like you just walked off the set of Mad Men. Give these recipes a try, and keep it classy, people!

Tequila Old Fashioned (Sazerac)
Tequila Sazerac (Old Fashioned)This is an absolutely delicious and crowd-pleasing cocktail for people who prefer to drink their tequilas neat, and it’s not a very difficult one to create at home. You may be surprised how much you will love this.

What you’ll need:
Fortaleza Añejo tequila
Agave nectar
Peychaud’s Bitters
Ice
Absinthe (in a spritzer bottle if possible)
Orange peel

Remember Me, Mang
remember-me-mangThis is an agave-modified version of a classic cocktail called “Remember the Maine”, which usually involves bourbon or rye whiskey. Mexican spirits (tequila and mezcal) are used instead, which makes it perfect for a Cinco de Mayo celebration.

What you’ll need:
Casa Noble Anejo
Wahaka mezcal (to coat the glass)
Cherry Heering (a Danish cherry liqueur)
Sweet Vermouth
Angostura bitters
Ice

Tequila Last Word / “My Heart Will Go On”
Tequila Cocktail Recipe: "My Heart Will Go On"This recipe puts a tequila twist on a classic cocktail called “The Last Word,” which originally used gin. Thanks to Adam Stemmler for creating this cocktail for us!

What you’ll need:
Blanco tequila
Green Chartreuse (a French cordial)
Luxardo Maraschino Originale liqueur
Fresh squeezed lime juice
Ice

The “Pure” Margarita
pure-margaritaIf you absolutely must go with a margarita, we suggest keeping it pure and simple, and stick with tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar. It just may be the most delicious margarita you’ve ever had, and it’s very easy to make.

What you’ll need:
Blanco tequila
Fresh squeezed lime juice
Agave nectar
Spring water
Ice

Tequila, neat!
Hardcore Tequila TastingOf course, the best way to drink tequila is straight. It only involves 1 ingredient and requires no special bar tools, which makes it the easiest cocktail recipe in the world! Why not encourage your friends to slow down and taste a quality 100% agave tequila? Challenge them to “warm up” their mouths prior to tasting, and experience the variety of complex aromas, flavors, and sensations that tequila can deliver.

We created a 2-part video series that will show you how to conduct a proper tequila tasting in your own home.

Hardcore Tequila Tasting, Part 1: Warming Up Your Mouth
This might seem a little silly, but give it a try. It really does make a big difference!

Hardcore Tequila Tasting, Part 2: The Casa Noble Treasure Bottle
Choosing a high quality tequila is important when you slow down and sip. This video will tell you what to look for in the aromas and flavors, and where you can find them in the glass.

What you’ll need:
100% Agave Tequila
A Riedel tequila glass, a champagne flute, or something similar

If you want to get really traditional, then you could also drink Sangrita (a tequila ‘chaser’). We have a fantastic sangrita recipe that you can make at home.

No matter which you choose, you’ll be celebrating Cinco de Mayo in style!

  • dulce-vida-tequila-horiz

Sometimes 40% alcohol (80-proof) just isn’t enough. I say this not because of any need to hurry up and get a fast buzz on, but rather that a quality tequila made at 100 proof (50% alcohol) can be more true to the real nature of tequila than one that is at the traditional 40% found in most stores.

In some cases, 100-proof (or above) tequilas are done for product positioning or marketing reasons. But this does not appear to be the case for Dulce Vida, a line of 100-proof organic tequilas that makes very effective use of that additional ten percent.

If you’ve ever been to a tequila distillery where they’ll let you walk right up and sample what’s coming directly out of the still, you may already know what I’m getting at. I was lucky enough to get this type of access at the distilleries that produce Casa Noble, Siete Leguas, and Fortaleza tequilas.

A blanco tequila that comes directly from the still can be anywhere from 50% to 70% alcohol, which is extremely “hot” and can be difficult to drink. But a very small amount in your mouth goes a long way. After the initial wave of alcohol fades, you are often left with an intensely pleasant burst of oily flavor that is sometimes fruity, sometimes vegetal, or sometimes earthy.

You usually can’t experience tequila like this with normal store-bought tequilas because just before bottling they are run through a charcoal and/or micro-fiber filters, and then water is added to bring the alcohol level back down to 40 percent.

I say “usually” because there actually is a way to experience this without making the journey to Jalisco and sweet-talking a master distiller. Dulce Vida Blanco is a 100-proof tequila that brings me right back to those stills. It is loaded with sweet and fruity aromas of cooked agave and a touch of citrus, and it coats the mouth with a nice, long, minty finish.

Dulce Vida tequila bottles

Tasting a reposado or añejo tequila that has come directly from a barrel is another rare treat for a tequila fan. After the blanco tequila goes from the still to a barrel, it is aged for anywhere from a few months to many years. As it ages, the amount of alcohol (usually) increases.

If you taste a quality tequila directly from a barrel, you will experience an initial wave of alcohol, and then intense aromas and flavors that have been introduced by the wood (common flavors would be butterscotch, nuts, coffee, chocolate, oak, vanilla, and caramel). The high level of alcohol seems to maximize the delivery of these flavors to your palette.

Richard Sorenson of Dulce Vida Tequila

I found the aged varieties of Dulce Vida to be very pleasant, making effective use of its 100-proof. Both the reposado and the añejo are aged for 12 months in used Makers Mark and Jim Beam whisky barrels. Once I let it rest in the glass a bit, the Dulce Vida Reposado had an aroma similar to that of cream soda. I experienced a wave of flavors, including nuts and cinnamon.

But as good as the reposado is, the añejo is even better. The tequila is aged for 24 months and it smells absolutely fantastic. It’s got a rich, thick taste, with a wave of subtle vanilla and a touch of spicy crispness, as well as a long, enjoyable, nutty finish. The cooked agave from the blanco is still there, greeting you like a familiar friend.

Sadly, for us, this tequila isn’t available in California yet. I hope this will change soon. Richard Sorenson, the founder of the brand, is based in Austin, Texas where the brand is plentiful. But you can also buy it online at The Party Source.

The entire Dulce Vida lineup gets a thumbs-up here in our house. Don’t let the 100-proof scare you. Just close your eyes and imagine you’re in a Mexican distillery, sampling right from the still or barrel. No airfare or passport needed.

– Grover

  • alquimia-tequila-review

In a tequila rut? We’ve been there. It’s easy to keep grabbing the same few bottles on your bar rather then splurge on a new tequila that you may or may not like.

Fortunately, we had the opportunity to go to some great tequila trade shows last Fall, where we sampled some impressive newcomers that would like to share with you.

(“Fall?!,” you say – we know, we’ve been busy getting the new version of the Tequila Matchmaker app out the door so please excuse the delay! By the way, what are you waiting for? Install the app, it’s free!)

One of the newer brands on the market that caught our attention was Tequila Alquimia. Alquimia is an organic tequila made in the highlands of Jalisco. I distinctly remember Grover pulling me aside at the Monterey Tequila & Mezcal Expo and saying, “You need to try their blanco!”

This was unusual because a good blanco can be very hard to find. It’s easier to make a good reposado or añejo since you can use the aging process to cover up any potential flaws in the blanco. But, to produce a high-quality blanco you have to hit it out of the park straight from the still.

alquimia-tequila-bottles

Needless to say, I was excited, and Grover’s recommendation wasn’t wrong. The Alquimia blanco offers pleasant aromas of lemongrass and citrus, with hints of cinnamon after it opens up. In the mouth it starts with the smooth citrus flavors and ends with a peppery finish. Delicious!

Their reposado, aged 6 months in white oak, is also tasty. It adds vanilla and buttery notes to the flavors of the blanco. The añejo is aged three years in white oak and I think I like it even more than the reposado. It brings with it not just more buttery wood notes, but also aromas of pitted fruits (plum!) which are incredibly pleasing.

Dr. Adolfo Murillo

We haven’t tried Alquimia’s 6-year extra añejo yet, but based on the quality and consistency of the rest of the lineup, we fully expect it will live up to our expectations.

And when you consider that Alquimia has been crafted out of pure passion by Dr. Adolfo Murillo, an optometrist from Oxnard, California, the quality of this lineup is even more impressive.

Murillo, a third-generation tequila maker, grows his own agave on his family ranch in Jalisco. He is an expert in organic growing methods, and has been growing agave this way for the past 18 years.

We can’t help but think that the special care and feeding that goes into his agaves is one of the main reasons why the entire lineup is outstanding.

If you’re looking for something new to try, and enjoy a spicy finish, think about Alquimia. It just might be the thing to get you out of a tequila rut!

- Scarlet

  • casamigos-tequila

George Clooney + tequila. Do we have your attention yet? The group behind the new Casamigos brand sure hopes so. They released a viral video campaign featuring Clooney, his girlfriend Stacy Keibler, Cindy Crawford, and her husband Rande Gerber, all falling into bed together after a night of drinking. (Clooney and Gerber are behind this brand.)

And the Casamigos website makes claims that caught our attention as well, including “The best tasting, smoothest tequila” and “a tequila that is smooth with no burn.”

So the question we wanted to answer was, “Is Casamigos worth all the hype?”

We initially learned that this tequila was coming to market several months ago, when a store clerk poured us a sample from an unmarked bottle he had stashed behind the counter. He told us it was George Clooney’s new tequila, and solicited our feedback. We couldn’t spend much time with it in the store, so we didn’t rush to judgement, but thought it was something that deserved examination in a better environment, using the proper glassware, and giving it plenty of time.

casamigos-NOMWhen we got home, we wanted to learn more about it, so the first thing we did was try to find out the NOM. The NOM is a four-digit number issued by the Mexican government to each legal entity that produces tequila. The NOM must appear on each bottle of tequila, and helps you identify the distillery where it is made. By looking for the NOM, we can start to figure out what a tequila may taste like based on where it was made. Casamigos is made at NOM 1416, which is the same distillery that makes well-known brands Avion (the “Entourage” tequila) and Clase Azul, among many others.

The next thing we examined was price. BevMo in California is charging $45 for the blanco and $46 for the reposado, so it’s competing in a space where Fortaleza Blanco lives. The reposado is more expensive than another one of our favorites, Casa Noble Reposado, which retails for $43.

This price range set our expectations pretty damn high, so we picked up a couple bottles hoping for the best.

casamigos-tequila-bottles

The Blanco

Before the blanco opened up we got faint aromas of mint and green agave. After a few minutes, some cinnamon started to come through, but for the most part, the aroma wasn’t very prominent.

Upon visual examination, the tequila clung to the side of the glass like a nice, oily tequila should, but once it hit our mouths it didn’t quite measure up with what we were expecting. It is sweet and slightly watery and lacks the sophistication and complexity of a tequila that commands this price range.

Casamigos Blanco is a relatively simple tequila with mint and cinnamon flavors, and a finish that is remarkably short.

The Reposado

Casamigos Reposado brings all of the characteristics of the blanco, but with a heavy dose of caramel (which smells very good, by the way). It is aged 7 months in American Oak. It has a smoother mouth feel in the front, but has a slightly rougher (or ‘scratchy’) finish.

The Verdict

After spending a couple hours with Casamigos Tequila, we decided that although it was pleasant and sippable, it really didn’t live up to its price tag.

The question now is can its celebrity endorsements keep the brand afloat?

- Grover & Scarlet

  • 2012 San Francisco Crafts Spirits Carnival
  • Richard Sorenson, Founder & CEO, Dulce Vida Spirits
  • Dulce Vida Organic Tequila
  • Marko Karakasevic
  • Alderete Tequila
  • Alderete Tequila
  • Alquimia Tequila
  • Olmeca Altos Tequila
  • Olmeca Altos Tequila
  • Gran Dovejo Tequila
  • Gran Dovejo Blanco Tequila
  • Casa Noble cocktail
  • Casa Noble cocktail
  • 2012 San Francisco Crafts Spirits Carnival

“Come thirsy, leave happy,” was the tag line for the 2012 San Francisco Craft Spirits Carnival held this past weekend at Fort Mason Center. The event allowed people to “try & buy” a variety of spirits including mezcal, absinthe, whiskey, bourbon, vodka, grappa, and of course, tequila.

If that wasn’t enough to get you excited, there was also an edgy Vaudville-style carnival going on (one that only San Francisco could provide) right smack in the center of all the action.

The quality of the tequilas at the show was impressive. Being able to buy these tequilas on-the-spot through Cask was a huge plus, and we left with our arms full of delicious goodies!

We were also able to meet up with many tequila friends, including Richard Sorenson of Dulce Vida Organic Tequila, Marko Karakasevic of Charbay and Tequila Tapatio, Jose Torres Medina and Jesse Alderete of Alderete Tequila, Dr. Adolfo Murillo of Tequila Alquimia, Steffin Oghene of Olmeca Altos, Nicole O’Neill of Tequila Casa Noble, and Frank Mendez of Gran Dovejo Tequila.

Check out the pics Grover took, and look for reviews of many of these brands in the coming weeks! We can’t wait to dig into our new bottles and share the tequila love with you.

 

 

  • California Tequila Festivals

California tequila fans, you’re in for a treat! Over the next couple of months there are some exciting opportunities to try some new brands and polish up your palate at tequila festivals around the state.

First up is the 3rd Annual Santa Barbara Tequila Harvest this Saturday, Aug. 18th, where you can sample over 25 premium tequila and mezcal labels. And, with a VIP ticket, you can attend a Tequila 101 presentation and tasting session with our friend Clayton Szczech of Experience Tequila!

In September, we’re really looking forward to the Spirits of Mexico (SOM) festival in San Diego, which is the largest tequila event of the year. The week-long festival kicks off Sept. 9th with the Tequila Trail, in which you get walk (or stumble – your choice) around Old Town San Diego’s bars and restaurants to sample a range of agave spirits paired with tasty food.

The main tasting event is on Sept. 15th, and we will be there with Reidels in hand! There is also an awards dinner and silent auction, so make sure to check out the show calendar so you don’t miss any of these great events.

Finally, on Oct. 6th, don’t miss the Fourth Annual Monterey Tequila and Mezcal Expo where you can sample a variety of tequilas and mezcals and sample food prepared by local chefs. Once again, our friend Clayton will be offering a special one-hour educational and tasting session for VIP attendees. He really knows his stuff, so take note.

There is also a silent auction and after party to round off the evening. (Monterey is Scarlet’s hometown so we will definitely be there, perhaps with a few surprises, so stay tuned!)

The bottom line is that if you want some great opportunities to sample new tequilas, make new friends, and develop your tequila knowledge, try to attend one or more of these great events.

(Thinking of attending the Monterey festival or SOM? Send us a note so we can meetup!)

Salud!

  • Tapatio Blanco Tequila

We spent a few hours with Tapatio Blanco last night, and really started to get a nice feel for this tequila. We plan to do a full video-style review of it very soon, but there are a few things worth mentioning right away.

1) It’s selling pretty fast. I went down to Liquid Experience yesterday, and was told that they sold out of their first order (2 cases) in just 2 days. If I were you, I would get this tequila now, if you can.

2) At $29.99 for a 1 liter bottle, it’s VERY affordable. As a general rule, a tequila this inexpensive usually means its great for throwing in a margarita, but not for drinking it straight. Tapatio blanco breaks this rule. We drank it all night long and never got tired, bored, or fatigued.

3) You can buy it online at a few places, including D&M Liquors. I’ve been told that they have plenty of it (but who knows!)

4) My tasting notes from last night were entered into the Tequila Matchmaker app, are:

“I don’t think you can get a better tequila for the money than Tapatio blanco. With a nose full of black licorice, anise, and pepper, you will be eager to dive right in. The flavor is a minty fresh burst of agave – perfect for a true blanco lover. It is vibrant and fresh and easy to drink.”

5) If you’ve never tasted a “fresh” tequila before, try this one now. It was literally just bottled, and drinking it is almost like drinking it straight out of the still. It’s vibrant and bursting with flavor, which is something you don’t normally find unless you happen to be visiting a distillery in Mexico.

If you’ve tasted it, please share your feedback with us (we may even ready your comments in our video review.)

SALUD!

- Grover

Tapatio Blanco, 1 liter bottle, USA

Tapatio Blanco is available in the USA in a 1 liter bottle.

  • matchmaker-nom-db

We just finished reading through the latest NOM database update from the Consejo Regulador Del Tequila (the governing body of the tequila industry), and added several new brands to the Tequila Matchmaker mobile app database.

A “NOM” is a 4-digit number assigned to a manufacturing facility by the Mexican government. You can find this number on the back of each bottle of tequila, and we keep track of the numbers assigned to brands.

The most recent update is dated June 4, 2012, and it lists 1,276 different tequila brands being made at 145 different distilleries. It also shows that several tequila brands have changed distilleries.

If you haven’t done so already,  download the app now (it’s free.) It will give you constant access to all of the tequila geek information that we (and our users) enter into the system.

Here are the highlights we found:

New Brands

We added the following brands today, after seeing them in the CRT’s list for the first time, which would most likely indicate that they are new.

La Catrina

Eruption Tequila

SilverCoin

Blue Iguana Tequila

Santo Azul

Reunion

Agatha Tequila

Rictus

Aqua Riva

Rock ‘N Roll Tequila

Sauza, the makers of the 100 Años Tequila brand, now lists what appears to be several flavored tequilas in the works:

100 Años Cola Y Limon
100 Años Paloma
100 Años Paloma Light
100 Años Cherry Chili Margarita

In addition, we spotted 28 new brands on the list that don’t appear to have any information available yet. As a result, we have not yet added them to the NOM database inside of the Tequila Matchmaker. These include:

Don Polo, 4 Cañones, Emperador Azteca, Lapittayya By Riazul, El Pegador, Tierra De Abolengo, Spirit Of The Shaman, Imperio Del Tiempo, El Pescadito, En Vos Confio, La Chula, Casa Pacific, El Patriota, Nayar, Tepozan, La Tilica, Muñeca, Viviana La Mexicana, Climax, 7 Mares, Ra El Refugio Del Aguila, DS Company, Angeles De Oro, El Traidor, Matafuegos, Ocelote, and Sinverguenza.

If anyone has information about any of these, please let us know so we can add them to the database.

NOM Activity

Deleted NOMs
NOMs 1115 and 1504 are no longer included in the CRT list of distilleries. (NOM 1115 is where Caballo Moro, Cálidus, La Parreñita, and San Cristobal tequilas were made.)

NOM 1569 is new to the list, owned by Agaveros de Michoacán. This distillery appears to be located in the state of Michoacán, and has one brand listed, “Tequimich”. We are unable to find any more information about this brand yet.

Brand moves
The following brands have changed their NOM numbers:

Amate (was 1137, now 1173)
Tres Sombreros (was 1468, now 1463)
Corazon Maya (was 1522, now 1560)
Corazon De Amores (was 1528, now 1473)
Reunion (was 1529, now 1499)

Thanks to all of you who have contributed bits of information through the Tequila Matchmaker mobile app. This information is constantly working its way into the database for all to see, share, and use!

Tequila Matchmaker NOM database

The Tequila Matchmaker NOM database for iOS devices lets you look find where a tequila was made, and what other tequilas are made at the same distillery.

  • tequila-delivery-sm

Speedy delivery! This came in the mail today from Hi-Time Wine Cellars, all in one big heavy box! (We ordered it about 36 hours ago. These guys are fast.)

(From left to right) Don Fulano Imperial 5 year, 123 Reposado, 123 Añejo, Meloza Blanco/Reposado/Añejo, Excellia Añejo, Canicas Reposado, IXA Silver, and Revolucion 100-proof Silver.

We’re planning to review a few of these in the very near future – stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you’ve already tasted some (or all) of these tequilas, please let us know what you think. Leave us a comment!

  • Instagram photos from Tequila, Mexico

I’ve become addicted to Instagram. In the past few weeks I have been busy going through the images on my phone and sharing them through this really fun photo sharing community.

Many of the images have been tequila-related, of course. I’ve been shooting pictures of Mexico with my both my iPhone and my DSLR for several years, and have collected quite an archive.

Here are 10 of my favorite tequila-related images thus far (in no particular order.)

Mariachis

The charming pueblito of Tlaquepaque has a central building called “The Parian”. Besides being billed by some as the “Largest Bar in the World”, it’s a regular source of mariachi music and authentic Mexican music. Jalisco is just loaded with music, culture, food, and fun friendly people.

1146 Stairs

The distillery at NOM 1146 is called “Le Tequileña”, and it’s located in the town of Tequila itself. This distillery creates well-known brands such as Don Fulano, Tequila Uno, Pura Sangre, Artenom Seleccion (Anejo), and Asombroso. They have a giant barrel aging room that is underground – and this is the view looking up the stairs that lead to the barrel room.

Agave Leaves

This is a young blue agave plant growing along a wall outside of the famous Tequila Fortaleza caves at NOM 1493. This distillery is small and extremely old and visiting it like stepping inside of a time machine. The tequila made here (Fortaleza) is made using old-world methods – which is a big reason why it’s so damn good.

Jimador

In Tequila Valley, in the hot baking sun, we got to spend time with a real jimador in the agave fields next to the Tres Mujeres distillery (NOM 1466). He was able to harvest this mature agave in about 4 minutes. Afterward, it was our turn – using his coa, we realized just how difficult his job really is.

Cut Pinas

Mature blue agave plants stacked and ready to be cooked inside the La Alteña disillery in Los Altos, Jalisco. This distillery is the home of the amazing El Tesoro de Don Felipe and Tapatio tequilas.

Jesus Maria

While touring the little town of Jesus Maria in the Los Altos region of Jalisco, I walked into a construction zone, of what would eventually to become a convention center. As I looked around, this neighborhood boy was riding his bicycle on the smooth pavement inside.

Herradura Worker

The Herradura tequila distillery is a large, beautiful, impressive hacienda. Any visit to the Tequila Region of Mexico should include a tour of this historic spot. In this photo, a worker keeps an eye on one of the barrel rooms as we toured it.

Tequila Corrido

During a tour of PRASA (NOM 1526) in the Los Altos region of Jalisco, we wandered into the barrel room as a worker was busy pumping tequila out of some of the barrels so it could be bottled. This distillery is where Tequila Corrido, Sol de Mexico, and El Grado is made.

Miss Tequila

Miss Tequila (yes there really is such a person) made an appearance at the World International Tequila Conference, held in Guadalajara in 2009. Behind her is a background for Tavi Tequila, when the brand was announced for the first time during a press event.

Guadalajara Cantina

As much fun as touring distilleries is, it’s the end result that everyone enjoys most. Drinking it, preferably in an old Mexican cantina. This photo was taken at sundown, inside of a very old cantina in downtown Guadalajara, complete with old-style swinging doors. As one patron left the bar, the sun came shining through.

 
– Grover

  • tequila-whisperer-show

The Tequila Whisperer Show is always fun to watch, but it’s even more fun when you get to be an actual guest on the show, as we were last week. Not only does Lippy have a talent for tasting tequila, but he’s gracious, and highly entertaining – both on and off the air. We remain big fans, and it was an honor to be invited.

The show went for 1 hour and 40 minutes, but it seemed like 20 minutes to us (and to the viewers, we hope!). In that period of time, we compared Olmeca Altos using 100% stone-crushed agave with Olmeca Altos that used 100% shredded (“molino”) agave and the commercially available version of Olmeca Altos (80% shredder, 20% stone crushed.)

We also tasted Yeyo blanco, El Tesoro “white label” blanco, El Reformador blanco, a special version of Casa Noble gold single barrel that is 108-proof (!), and Fortaleza añejo (lot 12.) What a wonderful lineup!

Or, you can watch this video (and many more episodes) on the Tequila Whisperer site.

We also got to spend a chunk of time talking about Tequila Matchmaker, our new (free) mobile app.

Thanks, Lippy!

When we lived in foodie San Francisco, my friend Max turned me on to a great blog called “Mexico Cooks!”. The blog is run by Cristina Potters, who moved to Mexico some 30 years ago and has spent considerable time studying local and regional cuisines, as well as Mexican culture and traditions. Her blog is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in Mexico, and her knowledge of Mexico cooking rivals that of the great Diana Kennedy.

Scarlet (right) guides Judy (left) and Cristina through a tequila tasting at our home bar in Mexico City.

We recently read that Cristina had moved from her home in Morelia to our neighborhood in Mexico City, and we couldn’t wait to meet her. We invited her and her partner Judy over for an informal tequila tasting to talk about the food and drink of Mexico.

Cristina generally prefers mezcal, while Judy prefers tequila, so we knew it would be an interesting evening. Cristina says she prefers mezcal because it doesn’t have the burn that she feels when drinking tequila. However, when we gave her all-natural tequilas with no additives (reposados from Los Abuelos and Casa Noble) she didn’t feel the burn. (Maybe we could convert her after all!)

In the end, it didn’t matter who preferred tequila or who preferred mezcal, because the important part is that we all love Mexico. It reminded me that being a tequila lover is more than just having appreciation for a spirit – it’s about culture, tradition and way of life. You cannot separate tequila from the country that makes it, just as you cannot separate Mexico’s amazing cuisine from its wonderful people.

Cristina Potters, of Mexico Cooks!

Cristina Potters, of Mexico Cooks!, sits at our home bar during a tequila tasting in Mexico City.

So, if you’re just starting to enjoy tequila, read Cristina’s blog and other resources on Mexico because it will no doubt deepen your appreciation for this great drink and the people, history and culture that go along with it.

Viva Mexico!

Working in the tequila industry, or having tequila as a hobby as we do, can be a real honor and privilege. It’s a fantastic community of people and who could complain about enjoying fine and even rare tequilas on a regular basis?

The first “Tequila for a Cause” event will benefit the Emilio Nares Foundation, which provides support to parents of children with cancer.

So, when I heard that our friend Marco Ramos, the Southern California rep for Tequila Fortaleza, started a project to give back to the community through charity tequila events I was thrilled.

“I attend to so many tastings and I have noticed the potential of community awareness,” Ramos says. “This has been marginalized to the wine community, but I think the tequila community is very passionate about our spirit, our roots and lending a hand when needed.”

With this in mind, Ramos began “Tequila for a Cause,” a series of tequila events with portions of the proceeds directed at charity.

The first event takes place tomorrow night (April 6th) at El Callejon restaurant in Encinitas. It features a special tasting of Tequila Fortaleza, along with tapas prepared with tequila. (See the description here – it sounds delicious—and sign up if you are in the area.)

Tickets are $25 and $7 from each ticket will be donated to the Emilio Nares Foundation, which provides information and support for the parents of children who have cancer.

Ramos is working with friends in the tequila community to put on one “Tequila For A Cause” event in Southern California each month. He says the first six events will feature Fortaleza, but he hopes to expand the project to include other brands. Each event will dedicate money to a different charity.

Fine tequila, good food, and giving back sounds like a great evening to me. If you’re in the Southern California area, don’t miss this series of special events. Follow Tequila Fortaleza on Facebook to find out about future events.

-Scarlet

Bartender at the St. Regis King Cole Bar in Mexico City.

The bartender at the St. Regis King Cole Bar in Mexico City, pouring a shot of Reserva de los Gonzalez reposado.

Some drinks, like beer and pulque, seem of the people, while others, like champagne and scotch, jut seem more elegant. One of the things I love about tequila is that it can be both a casual and formal drink.

That means I can enjoy a tequila in a rough and dirty cantina in a not-so-nice area of town, or I can enjoy a fine tequila at a posh bar.

We had the opportunity to sample some tequila in very elegant setting when we recently went to meet up with some friends at the St. Regis hotel’s King Cole Bar here in Mexico City. If you’re local and you haven’t been, go. The bar is well-appointed and comfortable, with an ample balcony that overlooks the Diana fountain, boasting impressive city views.

St. Regis hotel - King Cole Bar

A trolley full of tequilas at the King Cole Bar, inside the St. Regis Hotel in Mexico City.

While the St. Regis does not have a large tequila selection, they have more bottles than most. The first thing that caught our eye was a trolley full of tequilas, including Siete Leguas’ D’Antaño extra añejo, which is excellent. We nearly fell over each other reaching for the bottle since we have never seen D’Antaño in the DF before. Unfortunately, on closer inspection we realized the bottle was old and had been open for some time so most if the alcohol had evaporated. (To our amusement, we also noticed that the lower-end tequilas, like Jose Cuervo Traditional, were thoughtfully placed in an ice bucket at the top of the trolley, to cut the flavor.)

King Cole Bar menu

The tequila menu at the King Cole Bar, in Mexico City. (Prices are in pesos.)

We looked around to see what other treasures the St. Regis might be hiding. While they did have some higher-end tequilas, such as Don Julio 1942 and Herradura Selección Suprema, much of the selection was the usual suspects from the big brands. However, they did have the Reserva de los Gonzalez line, and we both ordered a reposado. Our drinks came in Reidel glasses with tasty little shots of sangrita. As we waited for our friends, we perused the rest of the tequila menu. I noticed there were a couple of mezcals inserted in the tequila list, like little trapdoors into smokiness.

Once our friends arrived, we moved to the impressive balcony, where our Reidels of Tequlia Gonzalez seemed like the perfect drink to enjoy dusk fading over Mexico City.

We we knew we might be drinking shots in a rowdy cantina much later in the evening, but we also knew that tequila’s versatility would allow us to stick with the same tasty drink all evening—formal or not.

- Scarlet

Bay Area tequila fans, you’ve got something new to toast to. The San Francisco Mexican restaurant and tequila bar formally know as Tres Agaves has undergone a renovation and reopening, putting more emphasis on its place as a tequila destination.

Tres logoThe newly-dubbed Tres Tequila Lounge and Mexican Kitchen has added 10 new brands as part of a bar expansion program, bringing its broad selection to around 180 bottles, from around 125 last year. Additionally, it has expanded its bar area by around 50%, meaning that patrons will have more space and time to sip tequila and pore over the bar’s new “Tequila Book,” listing not only their selection, but information on the “terroir,” soil, altitude and oak qualities of different brands.

The change was prompted by two factors, according to Tres Executive Beverage Director and Director of Marketing Ashley Miller. The first was an organizational change that saw two of the restaurant’s original partners, Eric Rubin and Barry Augus, leave to concentrate on the Tres Agaves-branded tequila. Original co-founder Dave Stanton remains to oversee Tres.

The second factor was the organization’s long-held desire to expand its bar area and selection, according to Miller.

New brands behind the bar include Peligroso, Corrido, Excellia, Calle 23, Arta, Alma de Agave and PaQui. Miller says she likes to bring on the full line of each brand, rather than select bottles, so customers can experience the full expression of the brand. Under the expansion, Tres now has 45 complete lines.

Introduction of the Tequila Book, rather than a traditional menu, will also highlight the bar staff’s extensive training. Miller takes employees down to Jalisco, Mexico several times a year to visit distilleries and grow their tequila knowledge. The Tequila Book features pictures from some of the trips and highlights the tequila making process. (These educational trips are no joke. As San Franciscans, Grover and I always thought that Tres was the best place to sit down at the bar and chat with the staff about tequila—they really know their stuff.)

And while Miller said that there are plans to offer a few mezcals and sotols, to round out their Mexican spirit offerings, tequila will remain the focus.

“Tequila is our first and foremost love,” she said.

Salud to that!

Kah tequila (reposado and blanco)

Kah tequila (reposado, left, and blanco).

Kah tequila has gotten a lot of attention for its seriously cool skull-shaped Day of the Dead bottles, but what about the juice?

While in LA, Grover picked up the Kah blanco and reposado and we sat down to look, literally, into the calaveras of this fairly new brand. If our suspicious minds thought this tequila was all about marketing, the blanco quickly erased the notion.

Kah tequila (reposado)

Kah tequila’s reposado is a powerful 110-proof mixture that is still surprisingly drinkable.

With a heavy herbal nose, and whiffs of white pepper and cooked agave, the blanco certainly doesn’t smell like a generic brand. Instead, it falls into the category of pungent herbal contenders. Now, I admit that grassy tequilas are not my personal preference, but some people really enjoy them so I proceeded with an open mind.

In the mouth it is surprisingly balanced, with a medium finish that hits you in the back of the throat. It has a lightweight mouth feel that’s pleasing, but in the glass it looks a bit watery.

Moving on to the heavy hitter – the 110-proof (!) reposado, which is aged 10 months in French oak. Now, the nose on this one is predictably strong, so we switched from a brandy snifter to a champagne flute to try to minimize the alcohol aromas and pick up on the more subtle flavors. When we did, we got nice butter, vanilla and cinnamon aromas, and the herbal elements were reduced.

Bracing ourselves for the burn, we took a sip. Surprisingly, this 110-proof juice is just as balanced as the blanco, and has good flavor, unlike many other high-proof tequilas. And the burn, while there is some, spikes and then fades rather quickly. This is a high-proof tequila that you could actually sip for a while, and enjoy. Not a wussy drink, for sure, but why would you want that?

Kah also makes an añejo, aged 2 years, and a limited-edition extra añejo, aged 4.5 years.

It is made at the Fabrica de Tequilas Finos distillery, in Tequila, where they also make El Diamante de Cielo, Agave 99, and Costco’s Kirkland brand tequila, among others.

The bottom line is that you may be attracted by the pretty bottles, but there is also a reason to crack those skulls open and give this tequila a try.

Kah tequila (blanco)

Kah tequila’s blanco bottle is white, with black hand-painted details.

Buying a tequila you’ve never tried before is always risky. Grover and I have come up short many times (remember Chaya? Ouch.) But while in San Francisco last week I couldn’t help but search for some new tequilas at one of my favorite local liquor stores, Cask.

Calle 23 tequila

Calle 23 reposado tequila.

Cask has a nice, well-edited selection and I came home with a brand I’d never seen before called Calle 23. The sales lady said that the tequila was created by a French scientist and the reposado was the most carefully crafted. Needless to say, I was intrigued! And, at $27 a bottle, the price was right.

Calle 23 tequila (reposado)

Calle 23 tequila (reposado) - to get the full flavor and aroma, we drank it from a brandy snifter.

I smuggled the bottle home to Mexico, hoping that after the first try it wouldn’t sit ignored on our bar like a redheaded stepchild. Grover and I finally cracked it the other night, and to my relief it was a pleasure.

It smells of cooked agave, light oak and hazelnuts. Its one flaw is that it carries an acetone note, but it is not overwhelming. It tastes better than it smells. In the mouth, it is light, but not watery and delivers a buttery mouth coating and a tingly finish that serves as a welcome reminder.

Aged eight months in old bourbon barrels, it is flavorful but not overly saturated with wood—just as a repo should be. The agaves are sourced from the Highlands of Jalisco, although the distillery is located in Guadalajara.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any other information as to the scientific crafting of this tequila, other than the fact that the brand owner is a biochemist. Calle 23′s tagline is “Tequila makes you smarter” and well, we couldn’t agree more, so If you work for Calle 23 please contact us and make us smarter about your tequila!

Now, I wish I had grabbed the blanco and añejo as well. For the price, this really is a good buy and an agreeable sipping companion.

You can buy it online at ForTequilaLovers.com.

-Scarlet

While the protests in Egypt remind us what a true revolution is—new, energizing, passion-driven— Tequila Revolucion seems the opposite. It doesn’t ignite our senses, nor does it hark back to the image of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, throwing back a bold, traditional tequila before riding out to seize hacienda land.

Tequila Revolucion: Blanco, Reposado, Anejo

Tequila Revolucion: Blanco, Reposado, Añejo

Instead, it’s just unremarkable, which is a shame considering the price point.

We recently sat down and sampled the blanco, reposado and anejo, which retail at about $40, $42, $50, respectively. They also offer a 100-proof blanco, and will soon have an extra añejo.

The blanco has a mild nose of citrus, herbs and raw agave that remind me of Siete Leguas blanco, but dialed down. Once in the mouth, it’s a bit watery. The taste is relatively unoffensive, but what you remember is a strange astringency at the back of your throat and top palate that lingers unpleasantly. Unfortunately, this is carried through the line, and is particularly strong in the reposado.

The repo is aged 10 months in white oak and carries light vanilla, honey and butterscotch aromas. It has a soft front, and then that annoying astringency that hangs around for minutes.

The añejo is an intensified version of the repo, but with less bite at the back. Still, it feels uneven in the mouth, as though it does not have enough oils for a pleasant mouth feel, even though it’s aged 18 months in white oak.

Cascahuin-tequila-distillery

A worker tends to the brick ovens inside of the Tequila Cascahuin distillery — where Tequila Revolucion is made.

Tequila Revolucion is made at NOM 1123, in distillery Tequila Cascahuin. This is a tiny, ancient place on the road to Tequila. Grover and I visited it on our first tequila tour and were surprised to find it was producing any modern juice. That said, Revolucion is modern. After all, it is going after the “smooth, premium” market. The problem is that it’s just too rough around the edges to win any devotees, let alone spark a revolution.

- Scarlet