Tag Archives: awards

Judging at The Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine

In mid-August of 2014, the organizers of the 6th Annual Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine, which took place on October 11, 2014, graciously asked Tequila Aficionado Media CEO, Mike Morales, to participate as a judge.  Their unique, take-at-home blind tequila tasting competition used the Tequila Matchmaker smartphone application to score and bestow awards.  You can review the results of the tasting competition here.

Take-Home Test

I dreaded tests and pop quizzes in school.  I never did well on them no matter how long I studied.  The only answer for someone like me to improve his grade was to do extra credit work.  Often, that meant the blessing of the occasional take-home test.

The entire text book, notes and other related materials was at my disposal.  In addition, the stress of competing against my smarter classmates was lifted, as well as any pressure about time limits.

Really, it was a license to cheat!  How could I go wrong?

That’s why the concept of the take-home cata made the Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine’s tasting competition so intriguing for me.

 Matchmaker, Matchmaker,

Make Me A Match…

Grover Sanschagrin, co-founder of TasteTequila.com, is the designer of Tequila Matchmaker, the only smartphone application to date that aids tequila

TasteTequila

TasteTequila

aficionados in finding tequilas that are suitable to their taste preferences.  It also allows enthusiasts to rate and grade brands on a sliding numerical scale.

Grover has introduced Tequila Matchmaker in some of the leading and trending tequila bars in the US.  The Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine is the first event to exclusively use the Tequila Matchmaker app for its blind tasting competition.

Grover Sanschagrin of TasteTequila.com.

Grover Sanschagrin of TasteTequila.com.

In this Facebook interview, Grover shares some of his thoughts on the aftermath of the competition.

TA:  So…did the results amaze you?

GS:  Not really.  I wish there were more brands involved so we could get a better comparison.

Last year, when we announced the results, several brands were in the room.  They immediately asked questions about the judges.  This gave me the idea to “test” the judges as a way of giving the brands an idea of who they were dealing with.
So, duplicating a tequila as a way to “judge the judges” was my answer.  A total experiment.  Not totally scientific, but definitely interesting.

TA:  Did they know who the judges were this time around?

GS:  No, we didn’t disclose which judges gave which scores.  Also, all of the judges, except for one, did well.

TA:  Did they know the names of the judges on the roster?
GS:  I believe so.

Also, rating these tequilas from home is a totally different method than rating them with all of the judges in the same room.  Not that any one is better than the other, just

Freddy the Cat judging añejos.

Freddy the Cat judging añejos.

that they are different.

I would actually like to try an experiment where the same judges rate things at home, and then again, together (like the SOM [Spirits of Mexico competition] format) and then see the differences.
Grover continues…
GS:  I also want to experiment with the order of the selection.  We can actually use our app to create a random order for each person, so nobody will have the same [order].
Ready to judge for Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine.

Ready to judge for Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine.

TA:  That would be a cool variable.

GS:  For me at SOM [Grover was a judge at 2014’s contest], palate fatigue is an issue, so it would be interesting to see if tequilas at the end of the line tend to do better.  I am fascinated by blind ratings, so I’m having a blast trying all these new experiments.
TA:  I think [for me] tequilas at the beginning of the line may also suffer from palate “under work.”

GS:  In our blind tasting tour, we found just the opposite.  The tequilas in slots 1 and 2 tended to score higher that 3-6.  No idea why, really – but it was clear in the comparison of the events.

Beginning of the line for blanco category.

Beginning of the line for blanco category.

TA:  Did the time of day also make a difference?
GS:  It was mid afternoon for all of the events.
TA:  So time of day was pretty consistent?
GS:  I know that the SOM guys insist that spirits must be evaluated in the morning, but that seems a little odd to me.  I think the judge needs to be consistent, but should be able to choose when they drink.  I don’t usually drink in the morning. usually. :-).  There’s an element of “real life” that isn’t present when you drink Tapatio 110 at 9am.

TA:  Did the certified catador do better than was expected?

GS:  Nope.

Rant Alert!

Before I go into my pros and cons of rating tequilas using the Tequila Matchmaker app for the Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine, let me get a few pet peeves off my chest.

Judging Competitions–What A Concept!

In all my time studying, analyzing and observing the Tequila Industry, not once have I ever known any tequila enthusiast, purist, newbie, connoisseur, collector or consumer (let alone brand owner and/or importer) to be happy with the results of any spirits judging competition.

Whether it’s the venerable San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the respected Beverage Testing Institute, the famed Spirits of Mexico, or any of the smaller, regional tasting events throughout the country, no one has ever been completely happy or agreed entirely with the outcomes.

The older the judging tournaments are, the more importance their annual medal counts are given by an unsuspecting public who only purchase award winning beers, wines and spirits based on their perceived value, instead of trusting its own taste buds.

Those long running competitions become more expensive to enter, forcing smaller more deserving brands out and leaving the larger, transnational corporations with deeper portfolios and bigger budgets to duke it out.

Accusations of alleged backroom negotiations for awards has also been an issue, of late.

And let’s not forget the most lucrative part of the tasting event–

Licensing

Paying for the rights to use the competition’s branded medals and seals in addition to the entry fees per spirits expression submitted.

Yet, spirits brands in general, and tequila brands in particular, continue to allocate hard-earned marketing dollars toward entering these yearly competitions for the privilege of hanging neck tags from their bottles or affixing stickers onto their labels named for precious metals or gemstones.

Double Vibranium, anyone?

Collecting medals and awards have gone the way of tattoos and piercings–

Everyone has them, and the novelty and mystique have worn off.

At the end of the day, it seems like everyone who participated in the competitions scored some sort of hardware and the rest of us are left shaking our heads in dismay or agreement.

Lastly…

Scoring

Monterey Bay blanco category and glassware.

Monterey Bay blanco category and glassware.

I was once told by a very respected spirits writer that a unified scoring system was good for an event should the organizers decide to hold other branded spirits competitions.

Puh-leez!

Whoever said that a templated numerical  scoring method used to grade different kinds of spirits was appropriate for tequila tastings?  Diffusers aside, tequila itself is so unique, it doesn’t compare with the flavor profiles of all other spirits, so why rate them that way?

How about a rating system that’s good for the juice instead of one that’s good for the show?  (BTW…one already exists.)

Pros And Cons

Pro–scoring on the Tequila Matchmaker app is amazingly simple.

Con–There’s no numerical rating for the tequilas’ appearance on the Tequila Matchmaker app.  Takes the whole sensorial feeling out of tequila tasting.  Only your nose and mouth get to have all the fun.

Pro–Shipping two ounce samples is neat and cost effective for the organizers of the show.

Con–See what happens when minis are compromised.  (Warning:  It’s not pretty.)

I particularly found that my sealed reposado samples were extremely alcohol-y even after sitting at room temperature for a couple of days.

Pro–It’s lovely to take your time judging samples at your leisure.  I agree with

You never know who might stop by to help judge tequila.

You never know who might stop by to help judge tequila.

 

Grover that it saves on palate fatigue, too.

 

Con–I miss the camaraderie of other expert judges and learning from them.  It ups your game like playing one-on-one with LeBron James or batting against Clayton Kershaw.

 

Pro–Depending on my schedule, I chose what time of day to judge my samples.

 

Con–According to the guidelines set forth by the original Mexican Tequila Academy, tastings should begin by 11 AM when a catador’s (tequila taster’s) palate is freshest.  [See also their tequila scoring sheet and criteria.]  This article here explains where this custom began.

 

Pro–I knew which glassware and other tips and tools to use to make me, as a judge, more effective.

 

Con–The lack of uniformity and protocol among the judges could have affected the final results.

 

Pro–It was exciting to use Tequila Matchmaker’s breakthrough scoring system.

 

Con–I can’t, in all honesty, say that I was pleased with the awarded outcomes or my graded performance.

 

See!  What did I tell you?  I hate tests. 

 

Sipping Off The Cuff: Trianon Reposado Tequila

trianon tequila, reposado, tequila aficionado, trianon reposadoTrianon Reposado

Tequila Aficionado’s Mike Morales and Alex Perez taste and discuss Trianon Tequila Reposado and explain why they’ve nominated it as a 2014 Brand of Promise.

“If you’re looking for a tequila with personality and depth, look no further than Trianon Tequila.  This is an unabashedly unadulterated, old school tequila for true tequila lovers.” ~Lisa Pietsch, Tequila Aficionado 

 

 

Trianon Tequila Reposado

Our family takes great care to make each of our tequilas the same way we have for generations—by hand. We think that’s the only way to make tequila that captures the true taste of blue agave. So, that’s what you’ll find in every bottle of Trianon: True agave taste with a smooth and satisfying finish. Try all three expressions of Trianon and discover the true taste of tequila for yourself.

The remarkable success of our Reposado is owed to beginning with our uncompromising Blanco. The transformation occurs when we rest our Blanco in specially made American and French Oak barrels for six months—four months longer than Mexican law requires. The result is a true agave taste and smoothness combined with complex notes of aged oak.

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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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Falling Under the Spell of Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine Tequila

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 and tequila tasting at Billy’s Ice House in New Braunfels, TX, to talk music, heritage, and his tequila, Mexican Moonshine.

***

Hey, gringos, it could be worse…we did not get there first

Colt_Peacemaker

The Colt Single Action Army, also known as the Peacemaker, is considered a famous part of Americana. “The Gun That Won the West” was wielded by such action-oriented historical legends of the late 19th and early 20th centuries as Buffalo Bill Cody, Theodore Roosevelt, Judge Roy Bean, Pat Garrett and General George Patton.  It has also been the selected sidearm of Hollywood movies, preferred by everyone from John Wayne to Clint Eastwood in every single Dirty Harry film.  And in 2011, it was declared the official firearm of the state of Arizona. Arizona is also home to another piece of Americana–a guts and guitar driven, reggae and mariachi laced, roots based rock-n-roll band leyenda known as Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers.  Armed with expressive lyrics, evocative melodies and four part harmonies, these straight shooters have come to redefine the indie music landscape by being the first band to debut six consecutive albums in the Top Ten of Billboard Magazine’s Internet Sales chart. Along the way, Clyne has gathered a burgeoning cult following that rivals that of Sammy Hagar and Jimmy Buffet–both themselves very successful tequila front men.

I fell under the spell when I stumbled over the line…

The full line-up of Roger Clyne's Mexican Moonshine.

Many aficionados roll their eyes when news of another celebrity endorsed tequila hits the liquor store shelves.  But Roger Clyne came upon his admiration for agave spirits early in life as part of his Southwestern ranching heritage, predating even his love for writing music and performing.

Roger was first introduced to scotch as a teenager by his grandfather who would pour him a dram to “put hair on your chest.”  The taste of “dirty socks in mud” was tough to swallow, but it was his father’s sharing of bacanora, another agave distillate, that opened him up to the wonders of Mexican spirits, and in particular, tequila. Like most of us, Clyne cut his teeth by shooting cheap mixto tequila in college, then swearing off of it until the next opportunity to overindulge.  He was well into his studies (psychology and anthropology) at Arizona State University when he rediscovered that “bright, wonderful, elegant, lyrical taste” of tequila during an exchange program in Ensenada, Mexico, while following a troop of mariachis.

 

It’s surreal, sublime, manmade and divine…it’s the moonshine….

Lyrics on the shipping box of Roger Clyne's Mexican Moonshine.

Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine tequila was born in true outlaw fashion in 2004 during the famed Circus Mexicus music festival that takes place annually in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico (Rocky Point, for you ex-pats).

Check out the Circus Mexicus Lineup for 2014 here.

Circus Mexicus 2014.After that initial experience, Roger began scouting for factories to produce Mexican Moonshine, a journey that would even take him to the famed La Cofradía distillery (NOM 1137), the home of Casa Noble and Montejima tequilas.

He finally selected Fabrica de Tequilas Finos (NOM 1472) and forged a relationship with the distillery owner, Federico Cabo, and Master Distiller, Arturo Fuentes.  Together, the team first “dropped” Mexican Moonshine reposado onto the market in 2010, even though Clyne was advised against such commercial suicide due to historically poor sales of this expression.

Soak in the silvery light spillin’ out tonight from the moonshine…

 

In this clip, Roger pours and discusses Mexican Moonshine silver…

 

We’ll get a fine flow flowin’, a good glow goin’…

 

Believing that a reposado is the more definitive expression of tequila, Clyne was surprised when Master Distiller, Arturo Fuentes suggested that Mexican Moonshine be aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels.  Here, Roger explains further.

 

 

I got a healin’ home-brewed remedy, a low-brow therapy…

 

Award winning Mexican Moonshine añejo.

A Gold Medal winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2014, Mexican Moonshine añejo  was released in 2013 and is fast becoming Roger Clyne’s favorite expression, much to his chagrin.  In the following snippet, Roger breaks down its flavor profile.

 

Turn your back on all the deadlines…

 

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!

See Part 2 of our visit with Roger Clyne here!

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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Tequila Aficionado Introduces the Brands of Promise Awards

Tequila Aficionado’s Mike Morales explains the Tequila Aficionado Brands of Promise Awards.

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