The Exploitation–and the Evolution–Of the Tequila Girl

Originally Published July 17, 2009 at Cocktailmatch.com

cocktailmatch
By M.A. “Mike” Morales

The Exploitation

Recently, I was invited to a tequila tasting at a local restaurant and bar in the Albuquerque area called The Range Cafe. I know the importer of this brand and I am very fond of it, so naturally, I wanted to lend my support. When I arrived that evening with my business partner and our wives, I was horrified! I’ll tell you why momentarily, but first, let me make one thing perfectly clear:

Continue reading…

The Montelobos Mezcal Project

[After The San Antonio Cocktail Conference held in January, 2015, Tequila Aficionado Media caught up with Dr. Iván Saldaña, producer of the upstart mezcal, Montelobos, a partnership project with the makers of Milagro [link] tequila. 

A featured speaker during the conference, here’s our in-depth discussion held at the bar of the lavish Westin Riverwalk Hotel.]

La Anatomia del Mezcal

Iván Saldaña (Photo courtesy of David Suro)

Iván Saldaña (Photo courtesy of David Suro)

In Dr. Iván Saldaña’s nifty little primer, The Anatomy Of Mezcal–which, by the way, belongs in every serious agave students’ reference library–he goes to great lengths to demystify maguey (agave) and mezcal in a concise and easy-to-understand fashion.

As an introduction into the fundamentals of mezcal, the book covers it all, from what it is to how it’s processed.  Saldaña also defines the differences of artisanal mezcals distilled in palenques and haciendas from those using industrial methods. The latter is a situation currently being hotly contested inside the Mezcal Industry as it tries to cope with its alarming expansion without repeating the mistakes made by the Tequila Industry while still in its infancy.

 

A Double PhD.

Montelobos_ABVFrom his research, Saldaña asserts that the maguey plant efficiently evolves when affected by environmental stress.  It is precisely the plant’s adaptability to extreme conditions that makes it not only a versatile prime material for tequila and mezcal production, but also gives it its unique flavors and aromas that set it apart from other spirits.

The same could be said about Iván’s versatility as a passionate scientist, researcher, environmentalist and mezcal developer who prefers to be challenged to come up with unique solutions.

Here, Dr. Saldaña elaborates on his academic background leading to his PhD.

In this segment, Iván recounts how his wine and spirits experience working for global distiller, Pernod Ricard, led to a craving to create something more intrinsically fulfilling.

My Way

Montelobos_derecho

Taking a lesson from Frank Sinatra, Iván explains what it was like to compose a mezcal like Montelobos without following any commercial guidelines.

Montelobos Explained

Iván has been quoted as insisting that “Mezcal is too often dominated by either an excessive smokiness or inopportune proportions.”  In his quest for the perfectly balanced mezcal, he concentrated on bringing forth Montelobos’ sweeter notes, along with citrus and smoke using cultivated espadin.

006The successful result garnered Montelobos a double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2013.

Not wanting to create a single faceted mezcal, or replicating an old family recipe, Dr. Saldaña further breaks down Montelobos’ complexities.

[Tweet “Montelobos Mezcal: double gold winner at 2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition”]

The Value of Innovation

Dr. Saldaña produced his mezcal under the guidance of fifth generation Maestro Mezcalero, Don Abel López Mateos, but still believed in exploration and experimentation when designing its unique flavor profile.  Coupled with innovation, Iván contends that Montelobos is not about science, but about passion.

[Tweet “Montelobos’ unique flavor profile may puzzle some.”]

43.2 ABV

Montelobos_label

 

Iván explains how he arrived at the perfect 43.2% (86.4 proof) alcohol by volume to achieve the flavors and aromas unique to Montelobos.

 

 

Sustainability

Agave_MontelobosNot only vigilant on creating Montelobos his way, Dr. Saldaña was also concerned about its environmental footprint on Oaxaca where it is distilled.

Montelobos uses only organic, commercially grown espadin, certified so by certifying agency, Certimex.  Iván also makes sure that the wood used in roasting the espadin comes from a sustainable source.

The Universe Within the Universe

Dr. Iván Saldaña’s expedition into the anatomy of mezcal is by no means over.

He confessed to having an urge to distill other variations of Montelobos that would emphasize additional flavors and aromas often hidden in traditional mezcal flavor profiles.

For the time being, he prefers to continue to examine and discover the world within the world of mezcal.

[Tweet “Discover the world within the world of @Montelobos Mezcal”]

The Sabor Latino Food Show

 

[The second annual Sabor Latino Food Show took place on May 12-13, 2015 at the Pasadena Convention Center.  Tequila Aficionado Media was asked to tag along with Embajador tequila as its importer/brand owner attempts to break into the competitive Southern California spirits market.]

Show Prep

emb1It’s no secret that trying to jockey for position into the competitive California spirits market is as tough as winning the Triple Crown in horseracing.  This is doubly true if you’re a fledging tequila brand trying to distinguish yourself from the rest of the field.

That’s where trade shows like Sabor Latino can help.

Opening Ceremonies

Lilly Rocha, founder of Sabor Latino Food Show.

Lilly Rocha, founder of Sabor Latino Food Show.

Created and organized by CEO, Lilly Rocha, a well connected and solidly certified event planner with 17 years of experience and with both national and international clients.

The Sabor Latino Food show recognizes the growing power of the Latino consumer in the US by helping to “Define the Tastes of the New Majority,” which also happened to be this year’s show theme.

After graciously introducing her team, and acknowledging troops of culinary students whom she affords the opportunity for internships with companies that prepare them for college or careers, Lilly cuts the ribbon and unleashes the mariachis.

 

 

Workin’ It

emb2

 

As with most trade shows, an intense 5 or 6 hours is usually spent educating potential customers on the virtues of your product.

Here, Andres Garcia, regional sales manager and family member of Embajador, samples his tequila to approving Spanish speaking attendees.

 

 


In this cut, Andres explains the differences of Embajador reposado and añejo to an employee of the LA Times.

 What’s New

At the Sabor Latino Food Show, Tequila Aficionado got to try new products, old favorites, and get surprising scoops, for instance…

NewOrendain

New from Orendain. What’s NOT on the label?

 

Maricela Martinez of Frank-Lin Distillers showcased her tequilas Puerto Vallarta, Ollitas, and Gran Orendain.

188Pulque

Brand Manager, Daniel Del Razo carries the only canned pulque in the US, Hacienda 1881.

For tequila aficionados interested in exploring the roots of tequila and mezcal, you certainly need to try it.

Guest Stars

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Several importers and brand owners stopped by to tell Tequila Aficionado about their upcoming offerings for Summer 2015.

Ernesto Aguirre of Aguirre Imports discusses his brands and his strategic alliance with Alvaro Molina’s Dos Artes tequila, a 2014 Brand Of Promise(TM) winner.

[Tweet “Sabor Latino Food Show – an all-star show!”]

 


Another 2014 Brand Of Promise(TM) winner in the ready-to-drink category (RTD), Jean-Paul Rojo of JLP Craft Margaritas visited with us and gave us a rundown of its new packaging and project for Costco.

[Tweet “JLP Tequila takes their award winning RTD margaritas to Costco!”]

Not everyone who came by was exhibiting at the Sabor Latino Food Show.  Some, like Miguel De Los Rios and Tatiana Vallejo, owners of Aguila Real tequila, just came to size up the field of newcomers.

Look for Aguila Real, one of the hottest brands to hit the tequila market in a long time, all over SoCal.

Even our founder, Alex Perez, stopped in to say hello.

AlexP

Alexander Perez, Founder of Tequila Aficionado Media

 

What’s New, Day 2

On day two, we met Daniel Villaneda of Global Spirits Imports who sampled a full array of  Pochteca Liqueurs along with an upcoming tequila from Chef Martín San Román whose own restaurant, La Terrasse, is in the heart of Baja California’s burgeoning wine country, the Valle de Guadalupe.

Speaking of the Valle de Guadalupe, Volubilis Imports displayed a series of wines from that emerging region.  Vice President of Sales, Marcus Salvemini, gives us some background on his company.

Hugo D'Acosta, the Mondavi of Baja CA.

Hugo D’Acosta, the Mondavi of Baja CA.

 

 

Marcus explained that vintner, Hugo D’Acosta, is considered the Mexican Robert Mondavi and primarily responsible for the region’s current wine boom.

In this snippet, he imparts the area’s history and the varietals that are carried by Volubilis Imports.

 

 

 

Dessert Pairing with Embajador Tequila

Mama Cheesecake story.

Mama Cheesecake story.

 

One of the more exciting vendors at the Sabor Latino Food Show, was Marian Lopez, owner of Mama Cheesecake in Pasadena, CA.

A one time single mom, Marian began baking her original cheesecake recipes about twenty-five years ago as a way to raise money for her children’s extra-curricular school activities.

Marian explains more about her background and baking methods.


After discovering what her baking methods had in common with some tequila producers, Marian approached the Embajador tequila booth to try all three expressions and to select the ones she wanted to pair with her latest creation, the Spicy Mama chocolate cheesecake.

Marian reveals what her inspiration was for her Spicy Mama chocolate cheesecake recipe.

SpicyMama

Marian and her business partner, Acacia, pair their Spicy Mama chocolate cheesecake with Embajador Premium Reposado and Supreme Añejo.


These, and many other exciting Latino based food and beverage products premiered at the second annual Sabor Latino Food Show.

Embajador Body Slams Latino Taste Buds!

SL_Takedown

An estimated 900-1000 attendees passed through the doors of the Pasadena Convention Center and several hundred were floored by Embajador tequila’s aromas and flavors.

A few days after the show, Embajador was notified that it had won the Sabor Latino Tequila Take Down competition held among the tequila brands participating in the event, as the crowd favorite.

The Southern California Latino community has taken serious notice of Embajador tequila as a promising brand worthy of their attention.

 

A Brand Of Promise

187TAWith the tortilla chip–and arguably, Mexican wine and spirits–among other Latin influenced foods becoming a staple of the American culinary experience, there’s no reason to believe that Lilly Rocha and the Sabor Latino Food Show won’t become a major player to look up to for all Latino food and beverage products eager to debut in the challenging Southern California market.

Watch for The Sabor Latino Food Show coming to Chicago, June 8-11, 2015.

 

 

Embajador Tequila Supreme Añejo Review by Steve Coomes

Embajador, Tequila, Supreme, Anejo, Review, Steve CoomesCompared to its siblings, Embajador Supreme Añejo is a big, big brother. 

Rested for 18 months—a full 10 months longer than its Premium Reposado—Supreme is a veritable post-grad student compared to its primary school brothers.

Yet, for all that age its color is surprisingly pale gold.  Not that color determines everything, but 18 months is a loooong sleep, a rest I assumed would yield a deeper amber cast.  (As I noted in my review of the Premium Reposado, used cooperage likely is the reason for its light color.) 

But don’t despair or stop reading now, patience has its rewards. Proceed apace.

The nose produces aromas of roasted agave, cherry and even a pleasantly sour orange curacao, which I dug.  Like Thanksgiving turkey, it’s fun just to sniff before inevitably giving into tasting.

Though not overly assertive like some añejos, the flavor is delicious, offering up abundant wood notes tempered by cocoa, ash, toasted oak, caramel, floral tones and honey. 

[Tweet “Compared to its siblings, Embajador Supreme Añejo is a big, big brother”]

Simultaneously sweet and vegetal upon entry, its texture becomes weighty at mid-palate and especially when moved around the mouth.  There’s briefly nougat-like density at midpalate that fades quickly to honey before skulking off to a slow and delicate finish. 

The exhale practically ignites notes of rose and lavender, providing insight into the wild yeast influencing its ferment.Embajador, Tequila, Supreme, Anejo, Review, Steve Coomes

Having now tasted its full line, it’s clear that Embajador wants its tequilas to finish fast.  Perhaps that bids drinkers back to the glass for more or leaves them searching for lingering, pleasant flavors?  I don’t know.  But none of the three offerings give much of a goodbye.

Such a rapid departure isn’t an insult, however, it’s just different. And to be fair, I’m also a bourbon drinker who loves a high-proof palate punch, which isn’t for everyone. 

As proven by the success of Avion tequilas, there’s an abundance of drinkers who enjoy light-bodied sippers, and this would certainly fit that profile.

Distiller’s note: Supreme is best enjoyed neat at 68 F.

Embajador Tequila Online

 

Tstephen coomes, steve coomes, Embajador, Tequila, Supreme, Anejo, Review, Steve Coomesequila Aficionado is proud to welcome rising star in tequila and travel journalism, Stephen Coomes, as a Contributing Writer and Reviewer.  His steady gigs include roles as contributing editor for Nation’s Restaurant News (the U.S. restaurant industry’s largest publication), restaurant critic and feature writer for Louisville magazine, feature writer for Edible Louisville and Seafood Business magazines, Kentucky travel and dining contributor for Southern Living, and dining blogger for Insider Louisville. He also writes marketing, PR, web copy and ghostwrites for numerous private clients.  You can visit Steve online atwww.stevecoomes.com.

Embajador Tequila Premium Reposado Review by Steve Coomes


Embajador Tequila, premium, reposado, review, coomesPremium, the second of three
Embajador Tequila offerings can be described as the good middle child of the bunch–

Eager to please, never offending, yet losing a tad of its uniqueness sandwiched between its siblings.

According to the distiller, it’s rested for eight months in American and French Oak barrels, meaning the final product is a blend of juice from both types of cooperage.  It’s pale, straw color suggests that all its cooperage is used since precious little color is given back to the tequila.

 Its aromas aren’t dominant, but pleasant nonetheless.  Banana, toffee and agua miel are evident, and the grassy note that sneaked into the Platinum comes out in the Premium as well.  A bit more time and swirling reveal a bit of citrus and a touch of ash.

[Tweet “Embajador Tequila Premium is fairly light bodied and modestly leggy”]

Not surprisingly, Premium is fairly light bodied and modestly leggy. Vigorous swirling sets off wide-set and narrow trails down the glass’s sides, hinting correctly that it won’t dominate the palate.  But that doesn’t mean it won’t please the tongue either.

Embajador Tequila, premium, reposado, review, coomesA sip reveals strong notes of cocoa, vanilla less so; and toasted marshmallow even less.  You have to work for it, but it’s there and worth waiting for.  Just close your eyes and summon it.

Finish is fast, hinting of but not slamming home, white pepper.  It’s slightly drying and a tad mineral, but pleasant all around.

Premium is not complex, but that’s not a criticism.  A young reposado blended from its rest in American and French oak doesn’t get the chance to assume a distinct personality of one barrel or the other, it just emerges balanced.

Which is likely where Embajador wanted it.

Distiller’s note:  Premium is best enjoyed served at 64 F.

Embajador Tequila Online

 

Tstephen coomes, steve coomes,equila Aficionado is proud to welcome rising star in tequila and travel journalism, Stephen Coomes, as a Contributing Writer and Reviewer.  His steady gigs include roles as contributing editor for Nation’s Restaurant News (the U.S. restaurant industry’s largest publication), restaurant critic and feature writer for Louisville magazine, feature writer for Edible Louisville and Seafood Business magazines, Kentucky travel and dining contributor for Southern Living, and dining blogger for Insider Louisville. He also writes marketing, PR, web copy and ghostwrites for numerous private clients.  You can visit Steve online atwww.stevecoomes.com.

Embajador Tequila Platinum Blanco Review by Steve Coomes

platinum_box_03_lampleft_b, embajador, platinum, blanco, silver, tequilaNote to all tequila distillers…

I love it when, along with your generous review bottles, you supply a story of how your tequila is made.

The makers of Embajador tequila did this by sending a simple folder with a few laser-printed pages that told a brief but helpful story about its goods.

And they are good.

(Some time after I typed my original tasting notes, I found it had a new and informative website.  Click here to enjoy that story.)

logo w border, embajador, platinum, blanco, silver, tequilaTranslated, Embajador, simply means ambassador, and it serves well in that role in welcoming the drinker into a solid sipping experience.

According to the distiller, half its agaves are baked the historic way, in a stone horno; the other half in a steam-heated autoclave.  According to the company, blending those techniques creates an array of aromas rather than just a few notes.

Once fermented, it’s twice distilled to preserve agave flavor and aroma.  After that, Platinum rests 40 days in stainless steel before bottling.  According to Embajador, laying low for that stretch develops balance and character, though it doesn’t specify how.

To be honest, I didn’t get an array of aromas when I poured some platinum, but the bloom butterscotch and cooked agave was substantial.  Both aromas lingered before giving way to a barely noticeable and appealing grassy note.

[Tweet “Embajador Tequila Blanco: substantial bloom butterscotch & cooked agave”]

The first sip of the blanco was slightly bracing, but refreshing, a delightful zip for an 80-proof spirit.  Its mayahuel, embajador, platinum, blanco, silver, tequilapeppery finish was an open invitation to sip again, so I did.

Subtly but pleasantly sweet, the mid-palate picked up some cotton candy interlaced with a bit of cinnamon.  The finish on that go-round left some traces of lemon and vegetal notes.

Exhaling produced some pleasant menthol notes followed by orange blossom.  Once emptied and dried, the glass gave off delicious aromas of roasted agave.

Platinum stood up nicely when mixed in different cocktails, but given my druthers, I prefer this one straight.

Its fresh, light flavor profile loses a bit of personality even when properly mixed, which is my wife’s preference.  The good news is we both enjoyed Platinum to our liking.

One last bit of info from Embajador…

Platinum is best consumed at 60 F, so put it in the fridge for an hour or so before drinking to cool it off.

 

Titanium Tequila: Luxury Attained

[On April 22, 2015, Casey Hartle, CEO and Vice President of Premium Spirits visited us to share some award winning Titanium tequila, a 2014 Tequila Aficionado Brand Of Promise(TM) nominee.]

Ti

Titanium, a chemical element known for its low density and

Titanium gear.

Titanium gear.

high strength, is generally too expensive and unattainable for most consumers.

Outside of being manufactured as components in high end products like performance race cars, lightweight motorcycles and competition bicycles, about two thirds of all titanium metal produced is used in aircraft engines and frames.

Robert Tijerina, founder of Titanium.

Robert Tijerina, founder of Titanium.

So when Robert Tijerina, owner of Houston based spirits importer, Premium Spirits, and the founder of Priority 1 Aviation, a worldwide business jet aircraft sales and brokerage firm, decided on a name for his tequila, Titanium fit perfectly.

Here, Casey Hartle gives us more background on Titanium’s origin.

Ready For Take Off

Casey comes from a wine and spirits background having servedTitanium_bottle time with Republic National Distributing Company in sales, and then successfully helping another tequila brand gain a firm foothold in the tough-to-maneuver Texas market.

Hartle explains the particular challenges that exist for a start-up brand in expanding from the competitive city of Houston to Dallas, Austin and San Antonio.

Casey’s goal is to take Titanium, an up-and-coming tequila brand in Premium Spirits’ portfolio, to new heights.

Titanium cubeOld Skool Methods vs. Modern Technology

Produced at the famed Hacienda La Capilla distillery (NOM 1479), the tequila itself is the brainchild of their artistic and secretive master distiller (known only as Eduardo) who decided to perfect his own recipe after years of making tequilas for others.

Casey explains Titanium’s process that combines old skool methods and modern technology to achieve a specific flavor and aroma.

[Tweet ” @titaniumtequila: Old skool methods + modern techniques = Obtainable Luxury.”]

Tequila That Won’t Crush Your Soul

Casey imparts what he feels makes a stellar blanco tequila, and how best to enjoy Titanium other than in your favorite cocktail.

El Secreto

Next, Casey lets us in on what’s in the offing for Titanium, and the rest of Premium Spirits’ portfolio.

Where Titanium Is Jetting To Next…

Hartle reveals Titanium’s plan to invade Aspen, Colorado in June 2015’s prestigious Food & Wine Classic.

[Tweet “@titaniumtequila–Obtainable Luxury Tequila that won’t crush your soul. “]

Plans For The Future

Hartle shares his vision for Titanium in the next five years.

Casey informs where Titanium can be found in Texas.

One Thing…

Casey Hartle expresses the one thing he’d like everyone to know about Titanium tequila.

Cleared For Landing

jet_Titanium

Most commonly found in the working parts of private planes and palatial yachts, titanium has also been perceived as a symbol of luxury.

While the name fits quite well with Tijerina’s aviation background and jet-setting career, Casey Hartle advises that the luxury lifestyle can be affordably obtained simply by sipping Titanium tequila, whether at your favorite watering hole, nightclub, or with friends on a fishing boat or yacht.

yacht_Titanium

That makes Titanium tequila as versatile as its alloy namesake and luxury easily attained.

***

Feeling lucky?  Enjoy this fun video from Titanium tequila.