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Be Featured in Our Next #Tequilachat!

#TequilaChat on Tequila Tuesday

TequilaChat, #tequilachat, tequila aficionadoOn Tuesday, November 18th, we hosted our first Tequila Tuesday #TequilaChat on Twitter with Trianon Tequila.  Turnout was great and the conversation was even better!  Attendees had some great questions for Scotty Mattos and the folks at Trianon and we all learned a little more about this great “old school” tequila brand.

Trianon Tequila – The O.G. Tequila

trianon stack, TequilaChat, #tequilachat, tequila aficionado Trianon Triple, tequila aficionadoIf you missed our Sipping Off The Cuff reviews of Trianon Tequila, you can click on the links below and view them now:

Trianon BlancoTrianon ReposadoTrianon Anejo

Follow us on Twitter here – Follow Trianon on Twitter here.

Be A Featured on an upcoming chat

We’d like to host more of these Tuesday afternoon Twitter chats, so if you’d like your brand to be featured in an upcoming Twitter chat, please fill out the form below to let us know you’re interested.

If you’d like to check out our conversation with Trainon Tequila, you can read it by rewinding our Twubs feed below to November 18th.

A Truckload of Agave – Agave Spirits, That Is

Agave Spirits Everywhere!

Agave piñas.

Agave piñas, agave spirits

 

 

If you’ve been following Tequila Aficionado Media closely, you may have noticed a lull in the weekly Sipping Off The Cuff ™  episodes that traditionally have aired every Friday.

As you may know, every tequila, mezcal or sotol label that submits samples for Sipping Off The Cuff ™ is automatically entered into our ground-breaking end-of-year Brands of Promise ™ awards program.

 

We’ve Got Our Work Cut Out for Us 

test pattern, agave spirits, tequilaAfter an unprecedented amount of entries to our Brands of Promise ™  awards, and the flabbergasting influx of new tequila and mezcal brands with fabulous juice in 2014 (and some unforeseen technical difficulties in our post production department that were beyond our control), Sipping Off The Cuff ™ returns with a vengeance.

 

Coming In Hot

agave spirits, tequilaStarting this week, our post production department is backing up the truck and dumping a huge load of agave onto your screens.

Until virtually the end of 2014, brand-spanking new episodes of Sipping Off The Cuff ™ will premier–

Daily!

tequila reviews, agave spiritsLook for your favorite–or start up or little known–tequila or mezcal brands to be deconstructed, dissected and discussed by our Founder, Alex Perez, and CEO Mike Morales.

Plus…

We’re planning some surprise guest hosts to star with Mike on special episodes of Sipping Off The Cuff ™ that will be taped from some of the more popular and trendy tequila bars around the country.

Sipping Off The Cuff ™–On Demand!

 

Fast and Furious, agave spiritsDon’t worry if you miss a chapter or two of these upcoming reviews with Alex and Mike.

They’ll be coming in fast and furious till the end of the year, but you can always catch up by subscribing to our YouTube channel, as well as following TequilaAficionado.com’s Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages.

And if you haven’t done so, take a moment to subscribe to our newsletter and be assured of never missing the latest tequila scuttlebutt, event, or feature story.

Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

 

 

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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.

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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