Relating to the spirits native to Mexico, the subject could be a little complicated, if not altogether intimidating. Is mezcal a tequila? Or is tequila a mezcal? Can tequila be made wherever on the earth? How is mezcal made? What is the distinction between blanco, reposado, and añejo? To reply just a few of those, in its easiest kind, mezcal is any spirit created from the agave plant. Tequila is created from agave, which implies it is also a mezcal. However by regulation, tequila can solely be created from the particular Blue Weber agave throughout the Mexican state of Jalisco (in addition to just a few different accepted districts in neighboring states) so as to use the time period “tequila” on the label. As for the way it’s made, there’s so much to elucidate, however let’s simply say the pure juices from the agave plant are extracted, fermented, and distilled right into a last spirit. There are conventional methods to do that (which purists really feel is the one method to go) and fashionable methods to do that (which some really feel has taken away from showcasing the true character of agave). As for the completely different types of blanco, reposado, añejo, and extra, this has to do with the period of time, if any, a tequila has spent getting old in oak barrels—blanco signifies zero barrel getting old, whereas reposado and añejo have seen progressively extra time in barrel respectively.
One factor all of those spirits have in widespread is their origin from agave, a cactus-like plant that grows in myriad varieties all throughout Mexico. In the identical means wines are created from grapes equivalent to Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, or Riesling, agave spirits are additionally characterised by selection. Blue Weber, Espadín, Tobalá, Cuishe, and Cenizo are all examples of various agave.
However we needn’t get too deep into the weeds on agave spirits right here. Most people who find themselves curious to dip their toe into the topic merely have to style the completely different accessible examples. They only want just a little steerage from a professional, which is the place Alfredo Sanchez is available in. Sanchez is an authorized Tequila professional and pupil of all issues associated to agave spirits.
Initially from Mexico Metropolis, Sanchez started his profession in hospitality on the age of 15 in a restaurant workplace earlier than graduating to bartender at 18. He later moved to Puerto Vallarta after which studied on the Mexican Academy of Tequila to turn out to be licensed as a Tequila Knowledgeable. In 2006, he joined the 4 Seasons Punta Mita staff as a Bartender and Tequila Barista, constructing a group of greater than 200 tequilas from throughout the nation. He later moved to the 4 Seasons Resort and Membership Dallas at Las Colinas as Bar Supervisor of the resort’s Outlaw Taproom.
Now at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe, Sanchez is the overall supervisor of the resort’s signature restaurant Terra and Terra Bar’s beverage program. Although he has cultivated an ingenious, ever-changing menu of signature, handcrafted cocktails, native brews, beer, cocktails, and wines, he has by no means forgotten his ardour for agave spirits and serving to others achieve an appreciation for them.
“I feel oftentimes, folks have misunderstood agave spirits, myself included. It is very true in case your solely expertise has been with ingesting tequila pictures. However actually, each sip of an agave spirit has a narrative printed on it. From the savory, wild notes of a coastal raicilla, the place the ocean meets the mountains, to extra-aged tequila that competes with a number of the finest bourbons, or the smoky, fruity, and natural notes of an Oaxacan mezcal, evocative of an excellent mole from southern Mexico,” says Sanchez.
Sanchez remembers his “aha” second with tequila after shifting from Mexico Metropolis to work and examine in Puerto Vallarta. “It was very near Tequila, Jalisco and I started to appreciate how misinformed I used to be about our nationwide spirit,” says Sanchez. He started making time to go to distilleries all through the area, studying from the completely different producers and gaining an appreciation for the delight they took of their work.
“I bear in mind the primary time I tasted an additional añejo tequila for the primary time, and I used to be amazed at the way it continued evolving within the glass. It made me take into consideration how a lot work, ardour, and time is required to make a single drop of this elixir,” says Sanchez. “The agave plant itself is a tremendous factor. There are such a lot of issues you should utilize it for. It makes paper, straws, sweeteners, cooking, and extra. It is simply a part of the Mexican tradition.”
Certainly whether or not tequila, mezcal, or raicilla, the distinctive taste of those spirits comes from the evolution of the completely different types of agave vegetation. As most agave can take a minimal of seven or eight years to mature, if not longer, persistence is a key consider making good agave spirits. Relying on the completely different varieties, producers have to pick the most effective vegetation and look ahead to the appropriate second to reap.
Every producer provides their very own fingerprint to the expression of their agave spirit. Some mix completely different varieties collectively for mezcal. Others use completely different yeasts for fermentation to concentrate on sure flavors. And every agave spirit reveals one thing completely different relying on the way it has been aged, whether or not in cask or not.
“In my private expertise, an excellent bottle of tequila at all times opens doorways and satisfies essentially the most demanding palates around the globe, irrespective of the tradition or age. I at all times inform folks, ‘there’s a tequila ready to be found by you.”
Individuals are at all times asking Sanchez for an inventory of his favourite agave spirits, a query he confesses is at all times onerous to pin down as a result of there are simply too many from which to decide on. We managed to get him to decide on ten suggestions that most individuals can discover out out there. Included is his checklist in his personal phrases, in no specific order of desire.
In Mexico, Tequila “Don Julio” was a legend earlier than it grew to become one thing mainstream. Don Julio Blanco was thought-about the most effective blanco tequilas for many years after he based the distillery in 1942. This tequila is the creation of Gonzalez’s grandson, Eduardo “Lalo” Gonzalez, who has taken a brand new strategy to his tequila, however with an appreciation for what his grandfather started. This tequila tastes like the nice previous days. It’s a small-batch tequila made with blue agave grown within the highlands space of Jalisco. It smells like cooked agave and cinnamon, with mild cajeta notes in addition to minty and citrus. Don Lalo is your choice for those who’re in search of the proper tequila to at all times have at house. It is excellent for having fun with by itself or in a cocktail. Attempt it in a Ranch Water cocktail for the pool days.
The primary time I met Guillermo Erikson Sauza, he defined his imaginative and prescient for Tequila “Los Abuelos,” or “Fortaleza,” I fell in love with the model. (It is extra generally referred to in Mexico as Los Abuelos, however “Fortaleza” within the worldwide market.) Sauza is the founding father of Fortaleza tequila and the grandson of Don Francisco, one of many authentic members of the family of Casa Sauza. In 1976, Tequila Sauza was bought by Beam Suntory and grew right into a globally-recognized model. Although a contemporary model of Tequila Sauza is distributed worldwide, attempting to see the way it tasted 100 years in the past when it was extra of an artisan product is a little more difficult. Besides with Fortaleza. This model has revived the best way Sauza was made within the authentic distillery. It is like tasting a bottle stuffed with historical past. It provides delicate notes of vanilla, apple, and earth and has a protracted and wealthy end, excellent for rookies and connoisseurs. It is a superb tequila for margaritas, however strive change out Triple sec for Aperol, add contemporary grapefruit and lime, and just a little agave honey for a scrumptious twist on a traditional. Salud!
This tequila comes from Casa Tequileña, owned by Enrique Fonseca, a fifth-generation grower and grasp distiller who holds one of many largest plots of tequila within the business. Utilizing blue agave sourced from the highlands area, this tequila is aged in French oak from the Loire Valley in addition to in used barrels that had beforehand aged Canadian whiskey and Bourbon. I like this model as a result of it’s a challenge that showcases regional tequilas from distinct altitudes, heritage, agave cultivation, and distillation. NOM refers back to the distillery wherein completely different tequilas are made. The tequilas from ArteNOM present how completely different tequilas are a real creative expression of their distillery or NOM. This Añejo provides notes of spice, toffee, walnuts, and orange. It is my favourite to sip with a spicy crême brulée.
One of the vital revered households within the highlands of Jalisco, the Camarena household, takes delight in making their tequila within the conventional technique from scratch. From tahona-pit extraction to small copper pot nonetheless distillation. Created by Don Felipe Camarena in collaboration with Alain Royer of A. de Fussigny Cognac, this tequila is aged 5 years in used Cognac barrels. El Tesoro is advanced with a pleasant steadiness of sweetness, minerality, and herbs. In some ways, it tastes like extra-aged tequila with a restrained oak vanillin oak impression that does not overshadow the pure agave flavors.
That is one other agave spirit with pedigree. Grasp Disller Germán González Gorrochotequi is the son of Guillermo González Diaz Lombardo, who created Tequila Chinaco. The Tears of Llorona refers to a fantasy informed all through South America of a younger lady pushed mad by her untrue husband. La Llorona interprets to “the one who cries.” It’s stated she wanders the panorama of Mexico, crying tears of sorrow and remorse. This tequila is a particular discover. A mix that has been aged for 5 years in scotch, brandy, and sherry oak barrels, this tequila has notes of caramel, dried fruits, and darkish chocolate and is spicy and wealthy on the palate. It is scrumptious with chocolate desserts.
Tasting the evolution of a plant will not be one thing you expertise every single day. Your complete Mezcal Amaras portfolio is made with the philosophy of honoring the solar’s cycle yearly. It has been described as “Bebo del sol su sangre,” or “Drink from the solar, its blood.” Constituted of a smaller number of agave recognized cupreata, which is understood in different elements of Mexico as Maguey papalote, this spirit takes quite a lot of persistence to supply. The plant takes about 13 years to develop the maturity to be prepared. The agaves are sourced from the slopes of the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain vary and are distilled within the village of Mazatlán within the state of Guerrero. This mezcal is just scrumptious with mild herbaceous, vegetal, citrus, and leather-based notes. It isn’t as smoky as different mezcals. The producer describes it as taking an tour by the forests of Guerrero.
That is one in every of my favourite agaves from Oaxaca. Spirits can evoke reminiscences, and this one jogs my memory of my grandma’s backyard within the morning after a freshly fallen rain. Madre-Cuishe grows within the wild for round 12 years. Aromas are earthy with notes of citrus and smoke. The end is lengthy and lingering. That is wonderful for sipping with contemporary uncooked greens like carrots and cucumbers with lime and Tajin. Or if you wish to go candy, this mezcal with a mandarin and cardamon sorbet is a should.
Pechuga is the “particular reserve” of mezcales from Oaxaca. It is a conventional fashion of mezcal sometimes produced in small batches with a 3rd distillation that features seasonal fruits, spices, and seeds. A hen breast is often hung over the nonetheless, cooking within the rising steam with drippings falling into the ultimate spirit. The Actual Minero pechuga is a household recipe from proprietor Angeles Carreno. His household has been producing artisanal and ancestral mezcal, made in small clay pot stills. mezcal in Oaxaca for generations. This specific mezcal is made in small portions every year. It provides notes of tropical fruit, anise, raisins, darkish chocolate, and licorice.
If you wish to be thought-about an agave professional, then raicilla must be in your checklist. A cousin of tequila in the best way Armagnac is to Cognac, this spirit hails from Jalisco, however reasonably than being steamed like tequila, it is roasted like mezcal. Raicilla is created from two completely different wild agaves, Rhodecantha (harvested at 12 years) and Angustifolia (harvested at eight years). This spirit is as wild because the agaves used to supply it. Rustic in nature, raicilla provides notes of wooden smoke, aromas of farmyard notes. La Venenosa Costa is savory and natural, with a contact of bitterness. It has a mineral high quality to it with a menthol, aniseed character on the end. It could be extra of an acquired style, however it’s simple to take pleasure in when you recognize its uniqueness. Raicilla is ideal with some blue cheese toast with arugula and fig compote.
One of many prime tequila distilleries, Caballito Cerrero was based in 1968 by Don Alfonso Jimenez Rosales. Just a few of their traditionally-produced Tequilas don’t match throughout the tips of what can legally be referred to as tequila, therefore the label Destilado de Agave. Chato, the cousin of Agave Espadin, is broadly used for mezcales from Oaxaca. This spirit is earthy and herbaceous with notes of tropical fruit and mineral, with hints of sweetness.