Author Archives: M.A. "Mike" Morales

Tequila Penasco Anejo by Steve Coomes

 logo2white2, tequila, penasco anejo, penasco, tequila aficionado, bourbonThe Ohio Valley’s schizophrenic spring weather has had an unexpectedly positive effect on my home liquor cabinet. Since it’s been too warm for the furnace and too cool for the air conditioner, the house temp has averaged about 75 degrees for two months. And one of the most notable beneficiaries is Tequila Penasco Anejo (the bourbon has benefitted, too!).

 

Sipped somewhere in the mid-70s one evening, the blooming butterscotch and cooked agave nose was brilliant. A good bit more swishing elevated vegetal notes, hints of mint, lemongrass, and aguamiel. Since temperature raises alcohol volatility, I remained wary of vapor burn. Still, walking that fine line between elegant fragrance and fire was worth it.

 

The flavor of this spirit, rested 14 to 16 months in oak, was bright and brilliant, launching with all the predictable barrel notes of vanilla and light caramel, even touches of chocolate. Held in the mouth, the añejo delivered lush floral notes backed by cinnamon and some straw. After swallowing, that rumor of chocolate reappeared and then dissolved into bruléed sugar, butterscotch and toffee. Given a brief nap in the glass—and trust me, it’s hard to put down—this expression offered up orange peel, wood and again butterscotch, joined by coriander.

logo2white2, tequila, penasco anejo, penasco, tequila aficionado, bourbon

 

Some spirits lose their body when warm, but not this one. It was full and coated both glass and mouth evenly, always generous and soft to every surface. Vigorous swirling of the golden expression yielded numerous narrow legs lined up and evenly spaced as the Rockettes in action. Think that’s a bit much? Have a look for yourself. (Maybe it was the glass?)

 

Sadly, Tequila Peñasco did not supply any press information, such as what its products cost. A quick web search revealed only the brand’s notoriously wonky website and expired liquor store discount offers for the añejo, but no details. That’s unfortunate given that I’d like to know how it stacks up (at the cash register) against its peers.

 

Suffice it to say, though, if you find it, get it if it fits your budget. It’s a straight-up fine sipper.

 

Follow Penasco online: FacebookTwitter.

 

 

 

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Rancho La Joya Tequila–Roberto Sanchez del Toro

Rancho La Joya blanco and reposado.

Rancho La Joya blanco and reposado.

Passion:  The A Game

To say that Roberto Sanchez del Toro, exclusive importer and brand developer of Rancho La Joya tequila (NOM 1555) has endured adversity would be an understatement.  To say that he has survived his life’s challenges, thus far, with grace and his boyish charm still intact would be putting it mildly.

San Antonio, Texas, resident, Roberto was a young high school student when, due to immigration reasons, he was forced to manage the family’s thriving tamale husk production business while his parents were temporarily out of the country.

Then, as a sophomore at St. Mary’s University, he decided to create his own tequila business only to suffer defeat at the hands of the merciless Texas spirits retail and distribution industries.

Fast forward to 2013…

Roberto Sanchez del Toro, importer of Rancho La Joya tequila.

Roberto Sanchez del Toro, importer of Rancho La Joya tequila.

A rabid lifelong San Antonio Spurs fan, it was during a hard fought pick up basketball game that Roberto took a knee to the groin.  A subsequent doctor’s exam revealed the shocking news that he was suffering from advanced testicular cancer followed by surgery and three months of chemotherapy while simultaneously reviving his failed tequila business.

All of this before the age of 24!

In this clip, Sanchez del Toro, following in his parents’ entrepreneurial footsteps, learns the pitfalls of the tequila business firsthand…

 

Here, Roberto recalls the start of 2013…

 

 

A shrewd businessman even in college, Sanchez del Toro, now with a degree in International Business, kept the lines of communication open with the García family, third generation Highlands agave producers of Rancho La Joya tequila.

Roberto takes us through the tequila’s process…

 

 

Even though the distillery has a large output capacity to meet demand, Roberto discusses what the ramifications of the current agave shortage could mean to the producers of tequila Rancho La Joya.

 

 

[To learn more about Rancho La Joya’s production techniques, click here.]

 

The new look of Rancho La Joya tequila.

The new look of Rancho La Joya tequila.

 

Along with partner, Mike Garcia, a successful San Antonio technology marketing executive (no relation to the agave producing and distilling family), and a team of consultants as guides, Roberto Sanchez del Toro, now 25, has a clean bill of health and is ready for the long haul with his newly revamped Rancho La Joya tequila, as well as having taken over the reigns of the family enterprise.

With a redesigned bottle that more accurately represents the juice inside, and the promise of statewide distribution from Glazer’s, Roberto is anxious to turn his initial sales call rejections into inspired action within the state of Texas, the second largest consumer of tequila, and beyond.

Why Tequila?

Of all the start up businesses Roberto could have chosen, he explains in the following segment why he selected tequila.

The Five Year Plan

Roberto describes where he sees Rancho La Joya Tequila in five years.

 

Rancho La Joya is available in blanco and reposado expressions.  Plans are in the works for a 36 month aged añejo to be called Diamante that will be marketed with branded stemmed glassware.

Roberto Sanchez del Toro cheers on his beloved Spurs.

Roberto Sanchez del Toro cheers on his beloved Spurs.

At this time, only the following local restaurants and bars carry Rancho La Joya…

La Fogata, Mi Tierra Café & Bakery, SoLuna, Rio Rio Cantina, Stetson Bar, Ice Lounge.

Like the San Antonio Spurs, who are currently battling in the 2014 NBA Playoffs, Roberto Sanchez del Toro has proven that bringing your “A” Game and passion into everything you do invariably results in a winning record.

***

Follow Rancho La Joya on Facebook

Or, on their website

 

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Tequila Penasco Reposado by Steve Coomes

penasco, reposado, tequila, Tequila Penasco Reposado

The quality of tequila pushing into the U.S. market is so high these days that it’s hard to write a really bad review.  It’s easy to be wowed by some more than others, and some, though good, make me question the price point, but I have yet to find one I’d swear off drinking again.

Tequila Peñasco Reposado has extended that winning streak for all the correct reasons:  flavor, aroma and color are all what a reposado is supposed to represent–that perfect balance between a blanco’s vibrancy and that kiss of maturity born of brief barrel rest.

That I liked it this much was particularly surprising given my not-so-favorable reaction to its sibling Tequila Peñasco Plata, an expression I thought fine, but unexciting.  The reposado, however, delivers a 180 as a super-enjoyable sipper.  Every time I’ve drunk it, I’ve always wanted more because it’s so flavorful and easygoing.

In just four to six months barrel time, it makes quick friends with the wood, but no inappropriately deep relationships.  Like a new college graduate who shows some maturity gained in his matriculation, this expression displays complexity while maintaining its youthfulness.  Sip it neat or use it in a cocktail–it’s flexible!  Given my druthers, though, I’d choose this neat.

Its light gold tint is alluring and hints accurately of a light body with a clean finish.  On the front of the palate come good wood accents, touches of cinnamon and just a whisper of pepper.  After a few sips I pick up some fruit, wood flavors and even some crème brulée on the exhale.  This is a spirit any novice tequila sipper could enjoy straight.

Aerating and swirling bring out some butterscotch and brown sugar notes, followed by a good dose of vapor, so don’t nose it too closely like I did (and do too often).  Let it rest and the brown sugar returns alongside a scant bit of toasted bread.

What tingles the tongue up front softens quickly at mid-palate and disappears before reaching the back.   No, it’s not much for finishing, but hey, after less than a half year in the barrel, what do you expect?  Maybe that quick disappearing act is what leaves me so eager for more when I’m finished.

Find Penasco online here.

Follow Penasco on Twitter here.

Follow Penasco on Facebook here.

stephen coomes, steve coomes,Tequila 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 at www.stevecoomes.com.


 

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The Diffusor in Tequila Production: Are They Cheating?

The Diffusor in a Recent Twitter Conversation:

A thought provoking question was asked via Twitter about the use of diffusors in tequila production.

For the uninitiated, diffusors are used to efficiently extract the starches from harvested agave piñas that are subsequently cooked and distilled to make mass produced tequila.  To purists, its use is blasphemy because it strips the tequila of character and results in something akin to vodka.

Furthermore, its use is usually kept under wraps by those distilleries who would prefer to let their marketing departments lead you to believe that they still produce tequila the “old fashioned way” without shortcuts.

Case in point is this following Twitter conversation:

 

Click on any of the links within the Twitter stream to follow, favorite, retweet, quote or respond.

More Questions Than Answers

Now, not only are we left to wonder who’s zooming who on whether or not Herradura uses a diffusor, but we feel the need to question the reasons for using a diffusor, who has been known to use it in the past and who may still be using it to eek out the most juice from their agave.

Follow the link below to one of the most thorough crash courses on tequila diffusor technology.

 

muchoagave.com, diffusor, tequila, tequila aficionado

 

 

Link: http://www.muchoagave.com/the-difusor—there-may-be-too-much-agave-in-your-tequila-or-mezcal.html

And this link on revealing tequila trends written in 2012 by freelance spirits writer, Emma Janzen.

 

Additional discussions on Linkedin proved informative:

  • International Business Manager at Jorge Salles Cuervo y Sucesores S.A. de C.V:

    Eventhough I do not like that Diffusers are used, I think that using it is not cheating. It is a new way to produce Tequila, that is approved by law and obviously will do no harm to whom may drik it. Any way the consumer that drink Tequila that has been produced with a Diffuser are aiming at a Low Cost and Low Quality product that cannot be compared to one that has been elaborated in a traditional method, which will give a much better flavour and quality.

  • Owner/CEO at Corazon Azul Spirits, LLC.

    Jorge Antonio Salles is right on his answer, the use of Diffusers in the production of tequila will just yield a lower quality product in very large quantities but it is not cheating, although they are not largely used in the industry, only the big producers due to the cost and operation are able to buy them and put them into production, however they do also produce a product called innulina which is the sugar extracted from the Agave pine and recent studies claim this product as a weight loosing agent and reducer of sugar levels in the human system thus reducing the chances of developing diabetes.

  • Distilled Spirits Head Dragon and Broker / Marketer / Sipper of Artisanal Spirits

    Nice bust on Herradura. LOL! :)

  • Tequilero at http://tequilaconnection.com

    While visiting Herradura in 2012, I asked the question. I believe the reply was yes, they were using the diffuser to produce their Pepe Lopez brand. They export a lot of it.

  • Chief Executive Officer at Tequila Aficionado Media

    They have also been known to use it on El Jimador, and have since stopped using it on Herradura.

    Some purists still believe they do, however, when old Herradura is compared to modern (Brown-Forman) Herradura.

  • Gerente General en Luna Spirits SA de CV

    In my opinion when the distillers used diffusers they are Cheating on self, why? One thing is the letter of the law and other is the spirits of the law.
    When the distillers use a difusser, they accomplish the letter of the law despite to be an approved method to distill, but its only proposal is obtain more quantity of alcohol, the quality is secondary and this kind of producer need to “adjust” the flavor with external agents (advocantes), approved method too, but in my opinion, they are not part of the natural process.
    When the distillers use a pot distill, they do it as flavor quest, to obtain the best profile possible with the natural components of the fermented agave juice, adjusting distill conditions, they follow the spirit of the law. And the quality is their first goal.
    In my opinion the secret to do a real tequila is: Work in the process be careful and responsible, like you are the owner of the distillery and obtain a product with a exceptional quality, assuming you the final consumer role.

  • Chief Executive Officer at Tequila Aficionado Media

    Beautifully said, Don Modesto!

 

 

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Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine–Tequila With Intention

On a frigid and damp Saturday night in November 2013, Roger Clyne, along with his band The Peacemakers, invited Tequila Aficionado Media to an intimate concert at Billy’s Ice House in New Braunfels, TX. 

Click here for Part 1 of our visit with Roger Clyne.

***

“The planet does not need more ‘successful people.’  The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds….” H.H. The Dalai Lama

JollyRahjahFrom the day that Bing Crosby carted his first bottles of Herradura across the dusty border from Mexico, tequila and popular music have been willing confederates.  After well over fifty years, modern recording stars like Carlos Santana, Justin Timberlake, Diddy, Billy Gibbons and others continue to tout their own tequila brands, either openly or quietly as part of investment groups.

But one recording artist does so both openly and somewhat quietly–Roger Clyne.

Shivering in the cold outside the Peacemakers’ eco-friendly tour bus, I recalled a conversation that I had had earlier with my good friend, Jason Silverman, Agave Beverage Manager at the famous Agave Bar & Restaurant in New York City.  He’d met Roger a few weeks earlier during the band’s New York swing and remarked that he was one of the coolest and most down-to-earth guys in the music and tequila business.

Once we climbed aboard, we were warmly met by heat (thank goodness!), dimmed lighting, and soft flamenco guitar music that instantly set the tone for a relaxing one-on-one with the only award winning tequila brand owner (Gold Medal at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition for Mexican Moonshine añejo) set to launch another highly anticipated indy album (The Independent premiered April 29, 2014).

 Rich gonna reap, Poor gotta sow…How we gonna make bread without any dough?

Being frank, open and honest, much like his lyrics, here Roger offers us a look into what it takes to bring his start up tequila onto the market to compete with big name brands.  As you’ll agree, it’s very similar to the indy music business.

Hello raindrop, hello sea…Hello jungle, leaf on the tree…Hello new day!

Possibly due to his early ranching heritage in Arizona, Clyne has pledged that the Peacemakers would walk softly upon the Earth while on tour.  He believed that his tequila factory should have the same respect for nature.

In this clip, Roger reveals his reasons for selecting Fabrica de Tequilas Finos (NOM 1472) as the producer of Mexican Moonshine tequila.  Foremost was the distillery’s efforts at environmental responsibility and vinazas clean up.

Screw-top wine, Rhythm and rhyme…My moonshine in a plastic cupBehind_Moonshine

Once referred to as the “Bruce Springsteen of the Southwest,” Roger’s rock n’ roll persona is often misinterpreted.  While he admits to playing as hard as he works, Clyne is a conscientious catador, learning from his mentors at Tequilas Finos, owner Federico Cabo and Master Distiller, Arturo Fuentes.

In these next clips, Roger Clyne gets up close and personal with his fans and concert goers at Billy’s Ice House in New Braunfels, TX, as he conducts his own tequila tasting of Mexican Moonshine.

Still a student of life, as well as tequila, in this snippet, we discuss proper tasting practices and the Vinturi aerator.

Hey Cantinero!

jason silverman, mixology, roger clyne, mexican moonshine

Jason Silverman, mixologist and fan of Roger Clyne – the man, the musician, and his Moonshine

 

With mixology driving the spirits industry and specially made cocktails being the new world order, Roger Clyne gives his thoughts on mixing with Mexican Moonshine.

Here, Clyne recounts his New York visit with Agave Beverage Manager, Jason Silverman, of the trendy Agave Bar & Restaurant.

So how does Roger Clyne relax after a long day on the road?  Try his signature drink, the Cheat-a-Rita!

And everything’s slowin’ down flowin’ counterclockwise

Throughout his journey, Roger Clyne has successfully handled life’s curveballs.

Circus_Mexicus

Circus Mexicus, a weekend beach party jam session in the sleepy town of Puerto Peñasco, Mexico

Whether it was pursuing a music career independent of the support of corporate record labels, or organizing Circus Mexicus, a weekend beach party jam session in the sleepy town of Puerto Peñasco, Mexico that has turned into a four day music festival, Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers have deliberately taken “the road less traveled.”

This same thoughtful path can be savored in each of his Mexican Moonshine expressions, and can surely be enjoyed in the melodies and lyrics of the band’s latest CD, The Independent.

If you feel that your own life decisions are turning your world counterclockwise, let these storytellers restore your soul and your taste buds, and heal your love for life.

After all, that was their original intention.

***

Enjoy this video of Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers’ hit, Counterclockwise…

Speaking of curveballs…

Amigos

M.A. “Mike” Morales and Roger Clyne posing for a picture after an amazing evening of tastings and interview

 

 

On April 29, 2014, Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers will unleash their seventh studio album, The Independent.  The title fits these musical mavericks like an old pair of faded jeans worn as a statement against oppression on Casual Fridays.   Yet, as Clyne states, “There’s something about our music that celebrates what’s uniting versus what’s dividing.”

independent

Click on the image to pre-order The Independent now (Release April 29, 2014).

Using this “Tequila Logic,” Roger Clyne has managed to do the same with Mexican Moonshine, gently hitching the spirit’s Lowland agave heritage to the wood notes of Kentucky bourbon to create a peacemaker that rightfully belongs in any collector’s arsenal.

Mexican Moonshine, Mexican Moonshine…Let your heart and your cup overflow, under the glow of the moonshine!  May your heart and your cup… Overflow…under the glow of the Moonshine!

Click here for Part 1 of our visit with Roger Clyne.

Visit Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers online now

Visit Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers online now

 

 

mex moonshine

Visit Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine online now

.

 

 

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