Tag Archives: Mexico

Jessica’s Journey: Dreaming of Mexico

tequila tour, Dreaming of MexicoI have been reading a lot lately about a new tequila tour being offered by the Four Season’s Hotel and Resort in Punta Mita. I wrote about it in my own personal blog and while I expounded on the tour itself I did not go into detail about the beach resort and I should have. However in the days since, I have moved away in thought from Punta Mita and gone somewhere else.

As the winter begins to take over the brief period of Autumn I light the fire in my office, pull up a chair and set out my snifter of Anejo. I would tell you what I am drinking but I am not yet allowed. I can tell you its seven year aged and it is very, very smooth.

autumn, colorado, Dreaming of MexicoThe sun is setting over the Rockies to the west and casts shadows in the valley toward Kansas to the east. The aspen leaves have all turned their hues of yellows and oranges and most have shuddered their last leaves while the maple trees turn their brilliant reds and cinnamons and soon too will flutter to the ground. The air smells of pine and a new crisp, clear flavor lingers.  I dread the onset of the winter season and the bleak snow. I dread the cold that settles in and the effort it takes to get dressed and go out the front door. I hate the idea that soon the coyotes will stop baying with the moon and go quiet and the birds will emerge only for a few hours a day. I dread the barren trees and the grey sky and the abyss of white.

tulum, Dreaming of MexicoTo soothe my restless cold spirit I begin to think of warmer climates and sun and beach. I dream of places south of the border in the Gulf of Mexico where minimum dress code is enforced and my tan never fades. I begin to think of who I might visit again and which friends and family will have me this winter. And this winter, it’s decided. Cancun.

I love the diversity of the area of Cancun. While the beach resorts are great, housing phenomenal amenities and services and offering 4 through 6 star accommodations throughout the destination there are smaller, quaint ideals for this girl, and an atmosphere all together slower paced.

 

villa albatross, villa albatros, Dreaming of Mexico

 

Villa Albatros calls Cancun home. A luxurious and beautiful villa right on its own private beach and water front is the best of the best in my opinion in Cancun.

cancun-albatroz-rooms15Tastefully appointed, Villa Albatross is a hacienda style villa with a main gated door within a retaining wall, to a lush entry garden. Within the main foyer is a large seating area that welcomes guests in textiles and hues that life the senses and beg for relaxation.

This stylish and luxurious hide-away boutique experience offers waterfront rooms, with luxury linens and beautifully ornate traditional Mexican furnishings. The entire villa faces out to the cerulean water for optimum views from any bed in any room of the house. Each has a private bath and each has its own character in luxury.

What makes this particular Villa the ultimate in luxury experiences is the service. Beyond the appointments and luxurious details throughout the villa, is the standard of excellence and service that is bar none the best I have seen anywhere.

Run by a partnership Robert and Andre’ respectively come from hospitality and service backgrounds that boast credentials of the best in class, The Ritz Carlton Corporation. Having achieved the hospitality education and standard of service of a lifetime they took this standard and applied it to Villa Albatross.

albatross1Their onsite chef is a culinary artist in every facet from menu concept to pairings. The service staff is on hand and on call to cater to every need, desire or whim. The service and product is beyond exemplary and this home is available either exclusively for one large party or by “habitacion” and availability.

I have had the pleasure of introducing extraordinary tequila’s to this lovely hacienda, and I can tell you based on experience their tequila menu is extensive and well informed. However I am sure that were you to desire anything special in tequila or spirits and they didn’t have it, this team would make sure it was there and ready upon your arrival. It is a World Class Experience at Villa Albatross.

In addition to the boutique villa experience, my visits to Cancun tend to take me well out of the tourist zones and further up the coast to remote beaches full of “Palapas” and hammocks meant for lounging all afternoon.

White Sandy beaches line the coast off the Yucatan and you can drive for miles and miles and it seems you never run out of beach. One of my favorite stops is Tulum. A little bitty pit stop, blink and you miss it, kind of place, Tulum is a surfers and beach bums paradise. Condos every here and there sprinkled about are tucked behind lush palm trees and green fern. Tucked up to the beach. There they are, out of nowhere. And behind them on the beach, usually a beach hut of a bar. Operated by one guy with swings rigged for bar stools and maybe an occupancy at the bar for a total of six. The beer is ice cold, the tequila off the hook and usually the fare is the fresh catch of the day including fresh grilled sea tortoise tacos! I have eaten them. Tastes like pollo!

The whole lunch with the beer? Maybe seventy pesos. That’s an exchange of $13.00 USD to one, you do the math. For that you cannot get a Happy Meal with a side of cardiac arrest in the states! And let’s be honest, on a scale of one to ten, the health meter on that lunch is off the scale. I always tend to lose weight when in Mexico. I eat so much healthier.

This entire Yucatan region of Mexico is technically in the rain forest. The climate is very humid and the air is sometimes chewy, for lack of a better expression. While my native friends complain of the damage the climate has on their clothes and linens, as mildew grows very quickly in this climate, the benefit if you are a nature lover is the accessibility to the natural habitats of the wildlife that exists within the tropical rain forest. It is extraordinary from the size of the bugs to the fresh water bat caves called “Cenotes”. These are grottos that hold cold fresh water year round under the earth.

There are innumerable exhibition areas that offer passes to controlled parks by the tourism board offering tours of the rainforest, swimming with dolphins, cave diving, zip lining under the canopy, and hand to hand exposure to monkeys, parrots and wildlife one might not otherwise see or experience. These attractions are the pride of the state as much has been invested in the renovation and preservation of the exhibit and park.

Home of the Aztecs and the source of Cowboy pride in the Yucatan, the charreada sister city to Guadalajara is Cancun. Many descendants of the pride of the Charro’s live today in the Cancun Merida areas and ranching and horsemanship is a way of life, steeped deep in tradition and sportsmanship.

charro1This year Cancun is getting a very exciting destination addition, Hacienda Isabel.  Slated to open the first week of November, Hacienda Isabel is the labor of love of the Charreada Society of Cowboys in Cancun. Funded by one of the most notorious charro’s in all of Mexico this exhibition center will offer the glory and athleticism of the charro, including showcase the love, trust and loyalty between man and horse and the romance of the time honored traditions of the charreada.

Part of Hacienda Isabel includes a restaurant which will serve the best of the local fare and some of the ranchero or charro favorites of the region and will be sponsored exclusively by one exceptional tequila to be announced. Hacienda Isabel is centrally located in the tourist district of Cancun and easily accessed via any concierge desk to book your reservation.

“Sunsets” in Cancun is ultimately the place to spend the evening. Sitting above the harbor of Cancun and of course a backdrop of a wall of glass, I will order a wonderful tequila, from the extensive list, and sit and swill while I witness the epically beautiful sunset that paints an extraordinary picture over Cancun every night.  I will watch the boats come in and go out of the harbor, as they raise sails and cinch them. I will watch the sun glisten and reflect off the water as it sets, in the same brilliance my anejo will reflect in my Riedel snifter, and I will watch the waves rise and fall with the same impressions of the crown left cascading down the inside of my glass after I have swirled it in my hand.

sunset2There is a great deal more to Cancun than the tourist highlights of spring break. There is an entirely different side to this destination yet unknown. There are gourmet chocolate restaurants in which every single menu item either savory or sweet is made with the rich cocoa of the region. The influence being the Aztec Indians. Every menu item suggests either a wine or a tequila pairing.

There are wine bars that have wine menus that take you quite literally around the world in thousands upon thousands of bottles. There are upscale luxury shopping malls that house retailers known around the world such as Coach, Louis Vuitton and Prada. There are upscale luxury services and experiences that take your breath away and leave even the rich and famous speechless.

For myself, Cancun is home in many respects. I have family there and friends that I look forward to seeing when I visit. We catch up and spend quality time together. We enjoy one another and reminisce of times past and great experiences and we always do it over a bottle or ten of the newest favorite on my list. It is how it is done in Mexico. Everything, especially friends, goes best with a great tequila.

snowThe last product I took to Cancun had one bottle withheld to send as a gift to the Governor of the State for his birthday. He loved it so much, he ordered his own pallet to have in his cellar. That is a good day’s work when the juice is so good all it took was a sip to sell 56 cases!

The snow floats by the window in silence as it begins to quietly fall under the lamplight outside. The air much colder now than it was when I began writing this, and my snifter nearly empty. It is eerily silent and the cold creeps deep into my bones. I open Expedia and type in “Denver to Cancun”.

 
 

jessica Arent, Sauza History, tequila, jessica arent, tequila aficionado, la cofradia, jaime sauza, cuervo, distillery, wine, dobecq, brandyJessica Arent has spent her career steeped in the Hispanic culture. Passionate about the Latin culture and experiencing roles that have taken her from television to digital marketing throughout the United States and Mexico, Jessica’s passion for Mexico runs in her blood. An accomplished writer, Mexico is where her heart lives and is the focus of her work and writing.  Specializing in marketing Hispanic based products and services, Jessica will tell you there are few people in the world or places she has traveled, from Asia to Europe and in between, who compare to the Mexican culture.  Building websites such as ALL ABOUT MEXICO and fostering the marketing endeavors of a number of tequila products, to name a few, Jessica sets out to inspire the world around her, one person, one relationship at a time, to know and understand the culture she calls home.  Jessica is a partner at Intermountain Media, LLC, the Communications and Media Director of Terra Energy Resources Corp, and shares other travel and tequila adventures on her blog, Jessica’s Mexico.

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Jessica’s Journey – Herradura’s Perro Borachito

Herradura Distillery Tour

Herradura Herradura! You know the name. It’s everywhere. Every liquor store, bar, and restaurant that serves tequila likely serves Herradura, a brand that seems lesser known than Sauza or Jose Cuervo, but is the oldest distillery still intact and operating in Tequila, Mexico.

We pulled up to a traditional hacienda on a dirt road. The front gates opened only slightly to an interior courtyard and we saw three men in traditional charro garments, astride three chestnut mares. A boy, roughly ten years old or so, emerged from the massive wood doors with his donkey in tow.

The building was nondescript. The retaining walls surrounding the courtyard from the street are a muddied yellow from recent storms kicking up dirt into the paint. To the left of the massive oak doors was a simple sign: “Casa Herradura”.

Entering the gates into the courtyard is like walking onto a film set. Unlike to the dusty dry dirt road we arrived on, a hand laid cobblestone road lie before us, leading to another set of massive wood gates set in another retaining wall and surrounded by lush foliage and bright colors.

haciendaH1On either side of the cobblestone road were small bungalows painted blue and yellow and pink with carefully tended front gardens lining the walls to the outside world. Magnolia trees stretched up as high as I could see, full of bountiful white flowers emitting the sweetest fragrance.  Women emerged from dark shadowed doorways looking busy sweeping but more likely looking for an excuse to get a look at this group of tourists taking in the scene.

dog1From a doorway on the right came what appeared to be a small toy. Fluffy and white with a low center of gravity, with great big floppy ears and big dark eyes, this dog stole the hearts of everyone with a wag of his tail! I don’t know that I have ever seen a pet look so much like a child’s toy but what was unnerving was the energy of this puppy. He seemed so silly. He cocked his little head from side to side as we each bent down to adore his overwhelming cuteness.  All I could think was that there was something “off” with this dog of epic cuteness.

A woman’s voice broke in, pulling our focus from the dog and instructing us to gather as our tour was about to begin. “This is Herradura and this is the oldest tequila distillery in Mexico still in operation” she began.

The gates opened for us and we passed through them. I turned around to watch the gates close, taking note of the dog sitting obediently on the other side of the closing gates. Following the docent, the story of Herradura began to unfold.

The Herradura Love Story

herradura, hacienda In Mexico every story begins with a love story. There are very few exceptions. As it is with all thing’s Mexico, there is a romantic story of intrigue and perseverance, overcoming all odds in this seemingly perfect place.

This love story begins with Félix and Carmen. A lucky man at the age of 45, Félix López meets and marries the beautiful and determined eighteen year-old, Carmen Rosales. Of this great love and union came two children, Aurelio, and Maria de Jesús (Jesusita.). The union of this couple and their family legacy brought the modern production of tequila to the Hacienda and together they built a factory that remained in the family and was used until 1963.

Félix López died in 1878. He left the future of the Hacienda in the hands of his young wife. Carmen’s brother Ambrosio Rosales and his wife, Elisa Gomez Cuervo de Rosales, step in and help Carmen with Ambrosio running the estate with great success for many years. As is Mexican custom, the property was to be handed down to Félix López’s son but Ambrosio taught the business to Carmen’s son, Aurelio, as well.
Pretty normal thus far, right?

Here is where the story gets good! Aurelio, a traditionalist and fervent Catholic, eventually takes control of Hacienda San José del Refugio, and throws himself into the production of this Mexican Moonshine, the family tequila, and he gives it the name of “Herradura”.

Cristero Rebellion

herradura, hacienda The distillery was threatened by the Cristero Rebellion (La Cristiada), a bloody battle between the Catholic Church and the State of Jalisco (1926-1929). In an effort to limit the incredible political stronghold of the Catholic Church, the federal government began harassing priests, outlawed the practice of Catholicism, and banned the display of all crosses. To make an example of the offenders of these newly enacted laws, trees and posts were strung with the bodies of offenders as a clear and callous reminder of the ramifications of disobeying the new laws. Before long, priests were being hunted down and killed. Those people who stood up against the government were called “Cristeros”.

Aurelio worked tirelessly on behalf of the Cristeros. He put out a call to the workers of the Hacienda to join the fight, provided financing, and gave shelter to priests and supporters at the hacienda. Built within the walls and confines of the Hacienda were endless tunnels that wove a tapestry beneath the Hacienda and all of Amatitán. Aurelio was later recognized for his brave and courageous hospitality and blessed with the official title “El Cristero”.

herradura, hacienda, distillery, museum In 1927, the government began raids on the homes of Cristero sympathizers, and Aurelio was well aware that his life was at risk. Devising a plan to escape, he tricks the advancing federal soldiers. The Hacienda had a large store of wooden balls which were designed to crush agave. They were of little use for that, but by placing them around the perimeter walls of the hacienda, and outfitting them with hats and sticks, the advancing soldiers believed that the Hacienda was a well-fortified fortress and turned back. Aurelio and his sister made their escape through the tunnel system and into the countryside. It was later speculated that Aurelio spent three years in exile and safety at the Vatican before he came back to México. Sadly he never returned to the hacienda.

When Aurelio fled the country, he left the Hacienda in the care of his cousin, David Rosales, the son of Ambrosio. At a time when mixto tequila (tequila made with the addition of sugar) was becoming a method of cutting expenses, Don David insisted that Herradura remain 100% agave tequila, maintaining the integrity of the family tradition. In November of 1928, the brand of “Tequila Herradura” was officially registered with the government in Mexico City —with the horseshoe as the logo.

Herradura’s Renaissance

herradura, hacienda, distillery, museum The property took you through the time of the story maintaining its original architecture and layout with the exception of the newer distillery implemented by Doña Gabriela de la Peña Rosales.

Hacienda San José del Refugio attributes much to the oversight of Doña Gabriela de la Peña Rosales. Married to an heir of the hacienda and finding herself a widow not long thereafter, she was a stunning beauty, of notorious legend, and worked harder than anyone else on the Hacienda. She was up with the sun every morning to greet the workers at breakfast, looked at accounts over lunch, then headed into Guadalajara to make sales in the afternoon. It was under Doña Gabriela’s supervision that a modern distillery was built, keeping the Old Factory as a museum. She introduced Herradura añejo tequila in 1962, and introduced the world to reposado in 1974.

herradura, hacienda, distillery, museum We went on a museum tour of the original distillery within the walls of deep old adobe, passing windows on tunnels that led deep under the distillery and down, down, down into darkness. We saw the wells in which the pinas were thrown and the system used to pull the great wheels that crushed the pinas. The docent explainined that at first it was a man that pushed the massive wheel in circles hour after hour and later lead a mule or burro to pull the weight over the pinas. We saw the ovens in which the agaves were cooked to a perfect temperature and texture for fermentation and the walls of white and French oak casks for the storage of the extracted juices. We were transported back to a time when manual labor meant putting two hands in and then if necessary all of you in.

Seriously!!

casksherraDid you know that some tequila fermented faster with sweat? It is a fact.
The jimador would come in from the field and strip down to nothing. He would then climb into the vat or well with the cooked agave and as the pinas were dropped one by one into the vats, he would wrap his entire body around the core of the agave, and squeeze with all of his might until the juice extracted from the plant. Then the plant was pushed back out to be used for other purposes similar to the way we use hemp today. This was done because the yeast was activated by the acids of the body and the PH from the sweat interacted with the juice, creating a faster sugar decomposition and ultimately alcohol. Mexican Moonshine old school!

We concluded with a tasting. The docent didn’t realize she was educating the educated. With a charming smile and an enigmatic personality, she enthusiastically told us the proper way to take the sip, inhale and exhale, and taste the notes of the varietals of the Herradura flight of products.

Canine Connoisseur

dog3Coming out of the distillery into the light of day, I remember turning my face up to the sun and breathing in yet one more breathtaking moment of my beloved Mexico and her rich history. And then I was pulled back by a commotion happening in the distillery. There beneath the shiny modern vats was that dog, taunting the security guard who yelled at him for being “borracho”. The dog dodged the security guard, dipping behind and under the heavy steel machines until he fell over. Just fell over.

The security guard reached down gently and picked up the dog like a toy. As the man brought the lifeless animal up to his chest, it looked like a rag doll. The irritated security guard marched off toward the bungalows shaking his head as he cradled the dog to his chest and muttered to himself.

My face must have registered the horror I thought I had witnessed. I stood there bewildered as the man was so calm with the dog’s lifeless body in his arms. I couldn’t quite grasp the casual demeanor and irritation he exhibited when he reached down to scoop up the collapsed animal either. It seemed so surreal. That’s when the docent marched up to me with a great big smile and said “Don’t worry Senora, the puppy is just borracho”.

Seems the “silly” puppy lives in a state of tequila euphoria. His preferred station is beneath the drip leak of the distillation vats. He is a canine tequila junkie and they cannot keep him from his “habit” no matter how hard they try. The dog has grown to be adept in his search for tequila. He has mastered dodging security, sneaking under the gates, sitting under the dripping vat, and once he has had his fill, passing out cold. Obviously he has no care for moderation or sipping responsibly.

 

jessica Arent, Sauza History, tequila, jessica arent, tequila aficionado, la cofradia, jaime sauza, cuervo, distillery, wine, dobecq, brandyJessica Arent has spent her career steeped in the Hispanic culture. Passionate about the Latin culture and experiencing roles that have taken her from television to digital marketing throughout the United States and Mexico, Jessica’s passion for Mexico runs in her blood. An accomplished writer, Mexico is where her heart lives and is the focus of her work and writing.  Specializing in marketing Hispanic based products and services, Jessica will tell you there are few people in the world or places she has traveled, from Asia to Europe and in between, who compare to the Mexican culture.  Building websites such as ALL ABOUT MEXICO and fostering the marketing endeavors of a number of tequila products, to name a few, Jessica sets out to inspire the world around her, one person, one relationship at a time, to know and understand the culture she calls home.  Jessica is a partner at Intermountain Media, LLC, the Communications and Media Director of Terra Energy Resources Corp, and shares other travel and tequila adventures on her blog, Jessica’s Mexico.

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Tequila & Distillery “NOM List” (29Sep2014)

The Tequila NOM List

monterey bayEach of our tequila NOM Lists contains the names and information of current brands and tequila distilleries as well as those that have previously appeared on NOM lists but have since been dropped by the CRT. Pinpointing your treasure bottles or favorite distilleries has never been easier! Please understand that this list is not a comprehensive list of every tequila brand ever made. We make every effort to be sure it is as accurate as possible from the time we at Tequila Aficionado Media began publishing our lists in 2013.

Click to download the format of your choice:

About Our NOM List of Tequilas & Distilleries

austin tequila festClick on any RED link within the NOM list to see the Tequila Aficionado articles and reviews on that brand or distillery. *Color Coding*

  • Brands highlighted in Green are recent additions (see comment on Excel spreadsheet for first shown date)
  • Brands highlighted in Red did not appear on the current list (see comment on Excel spreadsheet for last shown date)
  • Brands highlighted in Blue are suspected of using a diffusor in production.

 

 

 

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Embajador Tequila Conquers California At Spirits of Mexico!

Captures gold and silver medals across contest categories…

Embajador, reposado, spirits of mexico, tequila, tequila aficionado, anejoSeptember 29, 2014, Del Mar, CAEmbajador Tequila Supreme añejo was awarded a gold medal from the longest running Mexican spirits competition in North America, the Spirits of Mexico.  A panel of judges with over 300 years of experience between them also voted both Embajador Tequila Platinum Blanco and Embajador Premium Reposado coveted silver medals.  The blind tasting took place on August 25-26, 2014 at the popular Hacienda Hotel in Old Town San Diego with the results announced yesterday during a special ceremony at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Hailing from the famed blue agave growing region of Atotonilco in the highlands of Jalisco, the family owned Embajador Tequila stunned the Spirits of Mexico competition by capturing the gold medal in the añejo category.

“We feel like sweepstakes winners!” exclaimed an overjoyed Andres Garcia, Embajador’s Regional Sales Manager.  “Taking the gold medal for our anejo at the Spirits of Mexico tasting competition is breathtaking.”

And just like their global brand ambassadors, Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlan, one of the hottest mariachi troops in Mexico, Embajador tequila swaggered into the blanco and reposado segments of the competition and claimed twin silver honors.

“We are ecstatic over winning two silver medals for our reposado and blanco, too,” added Garcia.  “We’re extremely proud of the consistency in Embajador’s flavor profile and quality.”

The Embajador family is adamant about crafting superlative and distinguished tequila.

Embajador, reposado, spirits of mexico, tequila, tequila aficionado, platinum, blancoIt uses only its own estate grown 100% blue weber agave that is carefully tended for 8-10 years.  Baked in an adobe oven, the piñas are shredded using water from the distillery’s own aquifer, and then fermented from 3-5 days.  After double distillation, the luminous Platinum expression is rested 40 days in stainless steel vats to ensure a complete balance of character.

The captivating Embajador Premium Reposado is rested for a period of eight months in American and French Oak barrels, while the gold medal winning Supreme Añejo is aged with devotion for one year and six months in American and French Oak barrels.

This has been a year filled with accolades for the small batched Embajador tequila.  In April, it racked up a glimmering platinum title at the prestigious SIP Awards, while their other expressions garnered silver and bronze prizes, as well.

Embajador, reposado, spirits of mexico, tequila, tequila aficionado“Getting these esteemed awards is a symbol of our family’s determination, commitment and dedication to producing high caliber tequila,” said Garcia, “and that’s the better part of winning.”

Entering tasting competitions and gaining recognition for accumulating awards is only part of Embajador’s strategy to grow the brand.

“Acquiring the gold and silver medals provides us and our distributor sales team with a tequila that we can be proud to stand behind and be assured it’s top-notch juice,” explained Garcia.

“These trophies are great sales and marketing tools that give us the opportunity to present Embajador to any retail buyer and be confident that it will add value to their premium tequila shelf selection,” he described.

“We plan on celebrating these awards with a big ‘Thank You’ to all the people behind the scenes that made Embajador Tequila what it is today,” continued Andres.  “We value their hard work, long hours and integrity.”SOM-logo

Gratefully, he added, “Thank you Spirits of Mexico for celebrating and acknowledging this noble spirit.”

Not accustomed to sitting on their laurels, Andres Garcia admitted, “We plan on commemorating this triumph by popping a few bottles of Embajador Tequila.  Salúd!”

***

Distributors/Vendors:  Contact Andres Garcia, Regional Sales Manager, to discuss the benefits of adding Spirits of Mexico gold medal winner Embajador Tequila to your portfolio at andres@embajadortequila.com.  More details on Embajador Tequila on their website here.  To learn more about the Spirits of Mexico, click here.  Spirits Writers:  For an in-depth interview with Andres Garcia, call 469-216-0567.  Hurry–slots are filling up fast!

 

Dazed & Diffused: More on the Diffuser in Tequila Production

We briefly tackled the diffuser controversy earlier in 2014 with The Diffusor in Tequila Production: Are They Cheating? and in Craft Tequila–WTF Does THAT Mean? Part 2  where we featured our Craft Tequila Gauntlet to help you make better buying decisions when seeking quality craft tequilas.

 Here, Tequila Aficionado Media delves deeper…

What’s Not on The Menu

The Pastry War's stance on diffuser produced tequila and mezcal., We briefly tackled the diffuser controversy earlier in 2014 with The Diffusor in Tequila Production: Are They Cheating?, diffuser, diffusor, difuser, difusor

The Pastry War’s stance on diffuser produced tequila and mezcal.

On the wall of The Pastry War, a world renowned mezcalería and restaurant in the heart of Houston, TX, this chalkboard message proudly explains why owners, outspoken agave advocates Bobby Heugel and Alba Huerta, staunchly refuse to serve tequilas and mezcals produced with a diffuser.

In their view, it’s a battle between traditional methods of tequila [and mezcal] production which yields “delicious tequila [or mezcal],” versus more cost-conscious methods adopted by distilleries that produce “a shitty version of tequila [or mezcal].”

Let’s look more closely at this cursed contraption.

WTH Is It?

Mirriam-Webster’s online dictionary diffuser definition–

“a device for reducing the velocity and increasing the static pressure of a fluid passing through a system.”

Diffuser, by its own definition, denotes watering, stripping, deflecting or softening down the finished product, whether it be light, air, or agua miel, what will eventually be distilled into tequila.

Using only hot water and sulfuric acid to extract up to 98%-99% of the sugars from raw, uncooked agave, the resultant tequila, as described by noted agave lover, Fortaleza tequila brand ambassador and blogger, Khyrs Maxwell, in his detailed instructional post, There May Be Too Much Agave in Your Tequila or Mezcal  tastes like…

“…what I would consider to have a chemical/medicinal taste–sometimes slight, sometimes overbearing flavor profile that always seems to overshadow the beauty of the agave.”  

He further states that it “tastes very much like vodka” and has coined the term “AgaVodka.”

Lastly, Maxwell warns…

“So if you come across a tequila or mezcal made with a difusor, the only way that there can be “notes of cooked agave” is by adding that flavor during the finishing process.  They can add “notes of cooked agave?”  Why, yes.  Yes they can…I’ve seen and smelled the additive.  It does exist.”

Maxwell’s statement above excludes the use of authorized additives to blanco (unaged) tequila, of course.

As of December 2012, such practices have been outlawed by the CRT in its normas (rules and regulations governing the production of tequila).  It remains to be seen how well it will be enforced, however, so your pricey, Fruit Loop scented blanco may still be safe for a year or two until inventories are depleted.

Spanish diffuser manufacturer, Tomsa Destil, offers a closer look at the mega-masher and its process, which seem to go hand-in-hand with column distillation.

The site mentions that they have installed 12 diffusers for use in agave processing, but makes no mention of their clients, nor if sulfuric acid to extract sugars from agave is also needed.

Tomsa Destil diffuser., Diffusor in Tequila

Tomsa Destil diffuser.

The Stigma

While controversy swirls around the use of a diffuser, most educated tequila aficionados understand that it is not illegal to do so.  In fact, its application was accepted by the CRT some time ago.

As we mentioned in item #5 of our Craft Tequila Gauntlet, diffuser use by a distillery is a closely guarded secret even though it is a fairly large piece of machinery to try to hide.  There is a stigma attached to it, with most distilleries that have one completely denying that any of their star brands are processed with it.

While most of the Tequila Industry’s heavy hitters are known to possess diffusers, many also own regular shredders, autoclaves and even stone ovens.  Ask any major brand owner whose tequila is produced at these maquiladoras (large production facilities that churn out juice for contracted brands) whether they are a by-product of a diffuser, and they vehemently deny it.

#AskRuben

Ruben Aceves, Casa Herradura, Diffusor in Tequila

Ruben Aceves, Casa Herradura.

 

In the Twitter thread attached to The Diffusor in Tequila Production: Are They Cheating? it was revealed that Casa Herradura had used a diffuser from 2001-2010.

The historic tequila maker initially implemented the super shredder during the last great agave crisis of the late 90s.  Years later, it was taken to task by an organized group of key concerned mixologists and tequila supporters who refused to use Herradura in their cocktails or to include it in their bar menus due to a drastic change in its original flavor profile and quality.  Herradura finally succumbed and stopped using it for that label.

Vintage Casa Herradura, logo, Diffusor in Tequila

In the following screen captures of a Twitter chat from May 1, 2014, Ruben Aceves, Casa Herradura’s Director of International Brand Development, admits that the diffuser is now only used for their Antiguo, El Jimador, and Pepe Lopez brands.

 

Twitter chat #AskRuben.

More Twitter chat. #AskRuben

 

Aceves had previously come clean to spirits writer, Emma Janzen in her article for The Statesman here.

In Khrys Maxwell’s aforementioned blog, he lists tequila producers known to employ diffusers.  Tequila Aficionado also includes this list on every updated NOM List for your convenience.

Nevertheless, one of those distilleries mentioned in Maxwell’s list boldly refuses to hide behind a veil of secrecy–

Destilería Leyros (NOM 1489).

In Defense Of Diffusers

Destilería Leyros, producers of their flagship brand, Tequila Don Fermin and many others, bills itself as a model for modern and efficient tequila making.

It was proudly represented that way even in the wildly popular Spanish language telenovela Destilando Amor, where it stood in for the then fictional Destilería Montalvo.

 

Enrique Legorreta Carranco, one of the owners of Leyros, agreed to answer some of our questions and to try to help dispel the myths and mysteries surrounding the diffuser.

Controversy

“I am aware about the controversy of using difusor [Spanish spelling] in the tequila process.  Here are some key factors and benefits of the process in order to be firm with the press:

“In fact, there is nothing to hide and we are willing to receive tequila bloggers, media or people from Tequila Aficionado in order to know first hand this innovative and ecological process.”

Process

“The difusor extracts the agave juice first of all, followed by the cooking of the agave juice to extract the agave sugars.  This cooked agave juice is called the agua miel.  In traditional process they first cooked the agave followed by the agave juice extraction.  We obviously need to cook the agave juice in order to get its sugars in order to be able to be fermentated (biological process where sugar turns into alcohol).”

Flavor

[We’ll note that Sr. Legorreta took issue with the portrayal of the tastes and essences of tequilas produced with a diffuser as described by some bloggers, believing them to be too subjective.]

“This process gives to the taster a more herbal, clean and citric experience.  Also this process is more efficient and as a result gives a tequila with better standards in methanol, aldehydes and other compounds not desired because at high levels produces hangovers.”

 

Traditional Process vs. Modern Technology

“We respect a lot [the] traditional process.  The only thing we believe is that the consumer has the last word to choose between one tequila flavor from another.
“There are people that prefer the traditional strong flavor from tequila.  Other people are preferring tequilas [that are] more pure, citric with subtle notes of fresh agave like if you are smelling [the] agave and [the] land.”

 

Environment

Reiterating what was demonstrated in the videos above, Sr. Legorreta explains…
“A difusor process uses less than 50% of energy, and less than 60% of water used in traditional processes to produce same quantities of liters.  Additional to this [at the] Leyros Distillery we recycle the bagasse that we get in the last phase of the difusor.  All this with our completely self-sufficient green boiler is fueled with bagasse from our own mill.”

 

About That Stigma…

“About why many distilleries denied they have a difusor, I can guess without knowing a reason from first hand–that is because traditional process with ovens sounds more romantic than the technology of a difusor.”
“In fact, a lot of distilleries focus their marketing efforts around traditional processes.  I guess this is working.  If not, I [suppose] they would be focusing more in the tasting notes of the final product.”
Indeed, Destilería Leyros’ website and videos play on the romance using a smattering of phrases as, “It tastes like countryside, like fire in your blood,” and “Like a passionate kiss, the Taste of Mexico.”

A New Style

In much the same manner as importers, brand owners, and maestro tequileros defend

Don Fermin barrel room at Destilería Leyros.

Don Fermin barrel room at Destilería Leyros.

(and advertise in their marketing materials!) the use of additives in their aged tequilas (“finished and polished”), Sr. Legorreta asserts that juice made with a diffuser is simply another style of tequila.

“The essence of tequila is the agave, and both processes distill agave, just in different ways.  There are some people that love traditions [and] there are others that like to innovate and improve things.”
Just as Leyros’ website and videos “invites you to taste and compare, and then let your palate decide which tequila you’d rather raise in a toast,” Sr. Legorreta concludes:
“At the end of the day, or the end of the history, [it] is the consumer [who] chooses their tequila without a bias in the information.”
Some Truths to Consider

The Leyros videos above claim to use machinery as a way to “considerably reduce the risk of injury” to the people on their workforce.  Yet, as Maxwell points out…

“Not only is the difusor a way to pump out product, it also uses a very small labor force.  As more distilleries use the difusor, there will be less jobs available to those, who for hundreds of years,  have built towns and created families by working in the agave distillate industry.  So what happens to the unemployed?  …do they leave for the US to become illegal immigrants?  Or do they work for the narcos?”

At the risk of being redundant, it bears repeating what noted agave ethno-botanist, Ana Valenzuela said about the diffuser here

Shredder.

Shredder.

 

“…to prohibit the use of diffusers (in hydrolysis of agave juices) that takes the “soul” (the flavor of baked agave) out of our native distillates, singular in the world for its complexities of aromas and flavors.”

In conclusion, if current figures are correct, exports of tequila rose 16% to US$568 million in the first six months of 2014, compared to the same period last year.  It is expected that China will import 10 million liters of tequila in the next 5 years.

Where will Mexico find enough agave to serve their thirsty customers?

Mezcaleros de Oaxaca protestan.

Mezcaleros de Oaxaca protestan.

These guys know where.

Turning A Blind Eye

On September 4, 2014, dozens of mezcaleros (mezcal producers) dumped 200 liters of mezcal onto the streets of Oaxaca City in protest for their government’s lack of support against tequileros from Jalisco who are allegedly raiding tons of espadín and other maguey (agave), the prime ingredient in mezcal, to produce tequila.

In the process, say Maestros del Mezcal Tradiciónal del Estado de Oaxaca (a trade association) 15 of the 32 varieties of maguey native to Oaxaca are in danger of becoming extinct.

Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

Without maguey there is no mezcal or tequila.

Without maguey there is no mezcal or tequila.

Thanks to these transnational maguey marauders, the burgeoning mezcal industry’s days are numbered, it seems.

If indeed a diffuser strips away the agave’s regional characteristics leaving behind a more citric, vodka-like, cookie cutter flavor profile that easily lends itself to clandestine adulteration, over distillation and multiple barrel blendings, then what’s to keep these pirate tequileros from pilfering agave from outside the requisite growing states and using a diffuser to crank out “tequila?”

These days, filling orders to emerging world markets is more important than the blatant disregard for the Denomination of Origin.