Embajador Tequila: Framework for The Future

[Transportation, room and board were provided to M.A. “Mike” Morales by Embajador Tequila in order to research this article.  No monetary compensation was received and no guarantee of a favorable article was given by M.A. ‘Mike” Morales or Tequila Aficionado Media.  This article was written by, and is the opinion of, M.A. “Mike” Morales.]

Open Doors

Embajador Tequila: Framework for The Future http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4mC

Everyone in Atotonilco had heard of the Fabrica Santa Rosa’s suspension due to COFEPRIS’ (Comisión Federál para la Protección contra Reisgos Sanitarios) and SAT’s (Servicio de Admistración Tributaria) prolonged “Juntos Contra la Ilegalidad” (“Together Against Illegality”) crusade  to reduce illegally produced alcoholic beverages on the Mexican market.

Many were shocked since Embajador’s outstanding reputation for producing top notch tequilas had been stalwartly guarded–and envied–for years.

20160719_165039Collectively, the crew at Fabrica Santa Rosa was still reeling from the aftereffects of the shutdown.  A few described these agencies’ G-Men as acting arrogantly and condescendingly.

Certainly, this was no way to treat a group of professionals who had many years of extensive experience in distilling frontline tequilas to the strict adherence of the normas.

Individually, each recounted how he or she felt ambushed by the government officials and bum-rushed by the deliberate escalation of what were considered by many high ranking officials in the industry as minor—even laughable– infractions.

Despite that, neighboring tequila distilleries were shaking in their boots wondering if their stored tequila would be targeted by those government agencies’ assault that existed only to add more liters of seized juice to their latest numbers.

In fact, the concerned brand owner’s tequila who inspired my Bullying In Tequila editorial during the early stages of Embajador’s closure, is distilled just up the road from Fabrica Santa Rosa.

In this clip, we entered through the iron gates of the perimeter of Tequila Embajador.  The rows of estate grown agave and the rich, red soil of Atotonilco el Alto took center stage.

(Taken from inside our SUV, it may be too fast to watch continuously, and the sound is a bit muffled by the wind as we drove onto the grounds.)

20160719_124459

Once we parked on the property, the charm of the Fabrica Santa Rosa took over.

How the Magic Happens

Here’s where it all starts:  three autoclaves, from 40,000 KGS to 25,000 KGS in capacity, plus 2 ovens of mamposteria (brick/stone masonry).  The cook time in autoclaves is approx 10 hours; in ovens it’s 24 hours.  Embajador is a combination of both of these methods.

Behind the Iron Door

Opening the iron door of one of the masonry ovens and taking a peek inside.  As you can tell, it’s quite a chore.

Adjusting to Variables

Our tour guide, Francisco Segura Garcia, the company’s accountant and bookkeeper who, since the age of 16 has worked in the tequila industry in some form, explains–

A tahona for the boutique distillery.
A tahona for the boutique distillery.

What influences the flavor profile of a tequila?  A common question, he admits, that has a simple answer, yet, complex at the same time.  For instance…

Older agave vs. younger agave; and healthy agave vs. diseased agave.  If you put either of these through the same process, you won’t get the same results.

20160719_144545 (2)Cooking time varies with the time of year, as well.  That’s why there are master distillers with years of experience in the variations that can affect the final outcome.  Also, the seasons of the year makes a difference (summer vs. winter).

The agave is an extraordinary organism, continues Francisco.  One of the most adaptable plants ever created.  It can exist in the desert or near the coast.  Wherever water is abundant, or in extremely arid climates.

Francisco outlines that when they harvest during the colder months, the agave defends itself with a special coating that they must adjust for.

Variables like pressure, cook time, water temperatures at shredding, and above all, fermentation and distillation.  Otherwise, the tequila produced appears cloudy and bitter even though you’ve followed the same recipe as before.

Two Important Elements

Francisco discusses the importance of fermentation and distillation, and how they are equally influential elements within the tequila making process.

The type of yeast used during fermentation is also important since some can produce more higher alcohols than others, which is in violation of the normas.

Framework surrounding a new shredder.
Framework surrounding a new shredder.

Embajador uses proprietary yeast made from their own estate grown agave.

Fermentation time also varies depending upon the time of year (warm vs. cold weather).

The Vision

We witnessed the ongoing construction on the grounds leading to its phased in expansion that would eventually include a boutique distillery within the larger Embajador distillery.  It will include a tahona, barrel room, gift shop, and an historically accurate re-creation of a vintage working tequila taberna, among other things.

The mini distillery is estimated to be completed by the end of 2016, with the remaining improvements to be finished within a year.

Eco-Friendly

Aiming to cut down on the distillery’s carbon footprint, the eco-conscious family recently modernized the fabrica by installing a boiler to heat water used in the plant.  It runs on a combination of leftover bagasse (bagazo) from shredding the agave and wood chips.

The Future Framework

The framework of Embajador’s future.  More of the buildings and what they will house on the grounds.  (Hint:  Even the bricks of the vintage distillery are made by hand.)

Positioned For Success

Licenciado Cristobal Morales Hernández, legal representative for Tequila Embajador and the Fabrica Santa Rosa, describes what he sees for the immediate future of Embajador in two to three years, including the improvements and growth projected for the distillery.

He also takes into consideration the ramping up of the volume of the plant’s production without suffering a dip in quality of its consistently exceptional juice that they have proudly maintained for 12 years.

He concludes that the buying public should continue to expect the same lofty standards of prizewinning tequila and he acknowledges that the situation concerning the mandated stoppage in production was simply a lesson learned.

See And Taste For Yourself

Lic. Morales relays what he wants consumers to know about Embajador.

He graciously extends a heartfelt invitation to the public to see their more than adequate facilities for themselves.

Shhh...Embajador is resting.
Shhh…Embajador is resting.

He ensures that Embajador is strictly adhering to Mexican and global regulations, and that when the public samples any of the tequilas produced at the fabrica that they can be assured of its propensity for high standards of excellence.

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Embajador Tequila: Business As Usual

[Transportation, room and board were provided to M.A. “Mike” Morales by Embajador Tequila in order to research this article.  No monetary compensation was received and no guarantee of a favorable article was given by M.A. ‘Mike” Morales or Tequila Aficionado Media.  This article was written by, and is the opinion of, M.A. “Mike” Morales.]

Let’s Review…

Embajador Tequila: Business As Usual http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4lfIn Part 1, Embajador Tequila:  Rectifying The Situation, we listed all the minor infractions that the distillery, Fabrica Santa Rosa, was charged with by COFEPRIS (Comisión Federál para la Protección contra Reisgos Sanitarios) and SAT (Servicio de Admistración Tributaria).

We also brought to light the fact that every breach was addressed within hours, and that the real delay of lifting the ban on the Embajador distillery’s operations was the bureaucratic read tape surrounding the method of documenting and tracking of raw materials and supplies.

Before we tackle this topic, however, a word about the yellow journalism popular with Mexican news agencies.

Scraping A Dead Horse

The phrase “beating a dead horse” is often used when the same story is repeated over and over again, until the subject matter becomes tiresome.

Scraping is a term used by copywriters when expounding on a press release Embajador Tequila: Business As Usual http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4lfthat is distributed to several news agencies at once.  It’s extracting pertinent information from the news release or website, sometimes copied word-for-word, without proper credit given to the original source material.

In essence, it’s stealing (plagiarism), but, it helps to keep the topic fresh and different from the rest of the reports seen on other news channels.

Making matters worse, name any reputable producer allegedly busted during COFEPRIS’ and SAT’s “Juntos Contra la Ilegalidad” (“Together Against Illegality”) blitzkrieg, and they are instantly guilty by association.

While there are many honorable news writers in Mexico (many having lost their lives, especially those reporting on narco trafficking activities), most Mexican newspapers are tabloids using this archaic, unethical and unprofessional style of reporting.

The more controversial the titles and the more alarming the descriptions, the more the reader feels like an actual eyewitness to the alleged crime, and, the more newspapers are sold.

It resulted in sensational headlines for the copywriters who, chances are, had never even set foot onto a tequila distillery, and high fives all around for COFEPRIS and SAT.

Embajador Tequila: Business As Usual http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4lf

No one at the Fabrica Santa Rosa denies that they were guilty of the minor infractions they had been charged with, but, in reviewing the aforementioned articles in Part 1, you’d think the Untouchables had just captured Al Capone for tax evasion.

In true Elliot Ness fashion, there was a loophole.

But, it’s wasn’t what you thought.

The Loophole

Embajador Tequila: Business As Usual http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4lf

Imagine driving across the state line and being immediately pulled over by a state trooper.  When he asks you for your home state’s current registration, the smokey takes one look at your paperwork and tells you that your registration is not legally recognized by his state’s laws.  He then impounds your car until you can prove that your registration is legal.

That’s exactly what happened to Tequila Embajador.

Embajador Tequila: Business As Usual http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4lf

After a mound of paperwork providing and proving their procedural accurateness, converting to the more approved methods of record keeping–ninety days later–the ban on Fabrica Santa Rosa was lifted and it’s back to business as usual.

Embajador Tequila Goes On The Record

In this snippet, Licenciado Cristobal Morales Hernández introduces himself as the legal representative for Tequila Embajador and the Fabrica Santa Rosa.

Lic. Morales explains that while Embajador has never suffered infractions due to the wholesomeness and quality of their tequila (in other words, it has never produced illegal tequila), the main problem was in providing proper documentation as per the normas.

Morales goes on to describe that what the authorities actually did was to seal the distillery and the remaining tanks and barrels of tequila, but the product was never destroyed as is customary for the aforementioned government agencies to do during their “Juntos Contra la Ilegalidad” offensive.

The distillery was allowed to finish elaborating the tequila in all its various stages of production until the matter of the paperwork documentation was in compliance with the normas.

Embajador Tequila: Business As Usual http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4lf
Lic. Cristobal Morales with flagship tequilas, El General, Embajador and Jalisciense.

They were not allowed to truck out finished product, however, or to receive more harvested agave until that matter was resolved.  These same conditions were enforced on all of their contracted brands, as well.

In fact, even though the method of paperwork was not in keeping with the two agencies’ guidelines, paperwork DID exist making every step of Embajador’s tequila making process traceable to the very last agave plant and liter of tequila.

Lesson Learned

Cristobal asserts that in the 90 days of the plant’s closure, the company not only met the requirements of the agencies, but exceeded their expectations throughout the distillery, particularly concentrating in the fermentation, distillation and warehouse sections of the fabrica.

Lic. Morales admits that while the agencies’ reaction to the minor infractions were considered harsh, the situation served as a wake up call to step up their game on all levels of each department to stay on par with their indisputable high quality.

***

In the next segment, Embajador Tequila showcases its Framework for The Future.

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation

[Transportation, room and board were provided to M.A. “Mike” Morales by Embajador Tequila in order to research this article.  No monetary compensation was received and no guarantee of a favorable article was given by M.A. ‘Mike” Morales or Tequila Aficionado Media.  This article was written by, and is the opinion of, M.A. “Mike” Morales.]

The Situation

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZSince that morning in early April when a news report in the Chinese press first announced that the Embajador distillery (NOM 1509) had been cited by COFEPRIS (Comisión Federál para la Protección contra Reisgos Sanitarios) and SAT (Servicio de Admistración Tributaria), and shut down for various minor infractions, I’d been anxious to investigate their situation, in-depth.

Without a single citation in over 12 years, multiple improvements in the works to compete effectively in Asia and Russia, and kosher certification, it made no sense to endanger their forward movement and future plans by being seemingly underhanded and distilling tainted juice.

This family-owned distillery has a stellar reputation for producing such Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZexquisite fan favorites like Alma de Agave, Crótalo, Cabresto, along with its highly decorated flagship brand, Embajador.

Things Don’t Add Up

As I expressed in my editorial, Bullying In Tequila, I believed this was clearly a case of government agencies bullying an up-and-coming player poised to enter the burgeoning Chinese and Russian spirits markets, and known to Tequila Industry insiders as a formidable force firmly positioned in the private label sector.

When Andres Garcia, Regional Sales Manager for Embajador Tequila, called to invite me to inspect the day-to-day operations of the Fabrica Santa Rosa, I found their willingness to be transparent refreshing, especially in the wake of such damaging charges.

The “Violations”

Let’s get right down to brass tacks.

According to the initial Chinese report–

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZ
New log book and safety signs.

“Mexican health authorities seized over one million liters of tequila on Friday, which belongs to a production company in flagrant breach of health norms.

“All production of tequila was immediately suspended after the investigation found “sanitary conditions far below standards for production, as well as an inability to trace supplies and a lack of legal documentation.”

“The security included seizing 980,399 liters of tequila in tanks or unmarked bottles, 34,677 liters of finished products in labelled boxes mainly from the El Embajador and El General brands, and around 55,000 liters at various stages of the production process.”

In this news release from Mexico

“The second largest seizure of alcohol in three years is carried out.”

“It concerns the second largest securing of illegal inebriating beverages….  In this operation, 1.70MM liters of irregular alcoholic beverages were seized….”

(“Realizan el segundo decomiso más grande de alcohol en tres años 

“Se trata del segundo aseguaramiento de bebidas embriagantes ilegales mas grande….En esta acción…se aseguararon 1.70MM litros de bebidas alcoholicas irregulares…”)

In this incendiary report from El Financiero

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZ
New delineation of departments.

“Federal authorities confiscated one million 70 thousand liters of tequila outside the normas in the locality of Atotonilco el Alto, and it concerns the largest securing of irregular alcoholic beverages.

(“Autoridades federales incautaron un millón 70 mil litros de tequila fuera de norma, en la localidad de Atotonilco el Alto, y se trata del aseguramiento más grande de bebidas alcohólicas irregulares.)

[Aforementioned federal authorities] imposed seals of closure and immobilized the product and installations of Tequila Embajador, where work and services were suspended due to deficient sanitary conditions in the production process, lack of traceability of supplies and scarcity of legal documentation.”

(“…impusieron sellos de clausura e inmovilizaron el producto e instalaciones de la empresa Tequila Embajador, donde se suspendieron sus trabajos y servicios por deficientes condiciones sanitarias en procesos de producción, falta de trazabilidad de insumos y carencia de documentación legal.”)

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZ
New department signs.

“Security measures applied included the seizure of 980,399 liters of product in bulk inside storage tanks and bottled without labels; 34,676.7 liters of finished product in cases and labeled primarily of the brands El Embajador and El General; as well as 55,000 estimated liters of product in various stages of production, chopped, shredded, fermented and distilled.”

(“Las medidas de seguridad aplicadas, incluyeron el aseguramiento de: 980 mil 399 litros de producto a granel dispuesto en tanques y en botellas sin etiqueta, 34 mil 676.7 litros de producto terminado en cajas y etiquetado principalmente de las marcas El Embajador y El General, así como 55 mil litros estimados de producto en proceso, troceado, molienda, fermentación y destilación.”)

“Sanitary irregularities were also detected such as tanks without protection,

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZ
Protection and delineation.

[and] accumulated dirt and grime.  Additionally, there were no physical separations between the fermentation and distillation areas from the rest of the spaces of the distillery.”

(“También se detectaron irregularidades sanitarias, como tanques sin protección, y acumulación de suciedad; además que no había una separación física entre las áreas de fermentación y destilación del resto de los espacios de la empresa.”)

“In addition, there were flies present in the fermentation and distillation zones due to a lack of pest control, evident lack of order and cleanliness and there were no log books registering the carrying out of cleaning and maintenance of equipment.”

(“Además, se detectó la presencia de moscos en zonas de fermentación y destilado, debido al deficiente control de plagas, evidente falta de orden y limpieza en las instalaciones y no se contaba con bitácoras de limpieza actualizadas ni registro de mantenimiento de equipos.”)

And, from this blatant smear campaign–

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZ
More coverage and delineation.

“Any person who would want to consume any of the brands of tequilas involved should know that these products were elaborated under dubious sanitary conditions.  For instance, the inspectors found a platform over the reception tanks and one over the fermentation tanks that did not have any protection.

Moreover, there were gutters without protection with an accumulation of grime, evidence of consumed foods in the processing areas and lack of cleanliness in the fermentation area with the presence of non-useful materials including a motorcycle.”

(“Cualquier persona que guste consumir alguna de las marcas de los tequilas involucrados, debe saber que estos productos fueron elaborados en condiciones sanitarias muy dudosas; por ejemplo, los inspectores encontraron una plataforma sobre las tinas de recepción de jugo y uno de los tanques de fermentación, las cuales no tienen protección; además, se encontraron canaletas sin protección y con acumulación de suciedad, evidencia de consumo de alimentos en las áreas de proceso y falta de limpieza en el área de fermentación, con presencia de materiales en desuso, incluyendo una motocicleta.”)

“Also, an open bag was identified with detergent and a bottle containing liquid with the smell of disinfectant over the barrels.  There was lack of maintenance of the walls and a presence of clearings, windows without protection [screens] in different areas.  The distillery had no physical separation between the

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZ
Barrels naturally protect against…birds.

fermentation and distillation areas from the rest of the spaces.  It also had no identification and delineation of the areas such that packing material, products, chemicals and bottles were found in the same place.”

(“También identificaron la presencia de una bolsa abierta con detergente y un envase conteniendo un líquido con olor a desinfectante sobre las barricas; hay falta de mantenimiento en paredes y presencia de claros, ventanas sin protección en diferentes áreas; la empresa no cuenta con una separación física entre las áreas de fermentación y destilación del resto de los espacios del lugar, ni tiene identificación y delimitación de áreas, de tal forma que el material de empaque, productos químicos y envases se encontraban en un mismo sitio.”)

And finally, a simple English translation from the original press release by COFEPRIS and SAT by trade magazine, The Spirits Business.

The Rest of The Story

What all these news services failed to mention was that each of the above infractions, except one, was addressed within a couple of hours.

So, why was the lifting of the closure of Fabrica Santa Rosa distillery not met with equal timeliness by these government agencies?

Why allow the escalation of a situation that normally requires only a warning, and malign a distillery’s spotless reputation?

Why did it take almost 90 days to rectify the situation and to restore the Embajador family’s impeccable integrity within the industry?

Two reasons–

Embajador Tequila: Rectifying the Situation http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4iZ

COFEPRIS’ and SAT’s ongoing three year campaign (some call it a smoke screen or a witch hunt) called “Juntos Contra la Ilegalidad” (“Together Against Illegality”), to reduce illegally produced alcoholic beverages on the Mexican market, and…

Paperwork.

***

Click for Part 2, Embajador Tequila:  Business As Usual.

 

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Women In The Tequila Industry: Judy Rivera

sinoJudy Rivera, the latest Tequila Boss Lady to join our gallery, has figured out how to combine acute LA street smarts, a fearless entrepreneurial spirit, and artistic ingenuity into her Sino Tequila brand.

A staunch women’s rights advocate, Judy contracted with a small, 100% female owned and operated distillery in the highlands of Jalisco–Vinos y Licores Azteca (NOM 1533).  Its Maestra Tequilera, Melly Barajas Cárdenas, oversees Sino’s distinctive flavor profiles, as well.

Successfully launching Sino in late 2009, Judy is an avid supporter of notable street artists, and even donates $1.00 of every bottle sold to non profit organizations that benefit artists, galleries and art programs across the country.

Finally, Rivera owes her boundless energy and work ethic to her father, and even shares her grandfather’s message as the basis of Sino’s name, below.

SinoFamilia

Read on as Judy tackles our standard handful of preguntas (questions).

***

TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a woman in a primarily male dominated industry?  (What are the challenges you face when dealing with the male dominated Tequila Industry?)

JR:  Thinking through my entire experience since launching Sino Tequila atSinoBottle the end of 2009 until now, I really believe being a woman in the industry has garnered a lot of support for my Brand and my Mission, especially from the bar and restaurant side of things.

There have been some interesting times during the first couple of years bringing Sino to a distributor and getting a lot of “Are you the sales rep?” type of questions.

I would of course answer, “Yes, the sales rep, the accountant, the marketing agency and the owner!”

TA:  How have you been able to change things within the Tequila Industry?

JR:  Well, I think if nothing else it opens everyone’s mind that you don’t need to be a millionaire to make great tequila.

I am very proud of my Brand and the wonderful distillery that produces my SinoSrecipes.

There are still some people that may dismiss the tequila because it doesn’t have the flashy television ads, etc., but I believe quality and creativity supersedes relying solely on flashiness and huge budgets.

I see that being realized by more and more people each day.

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila Industry?

JR:  It will definitely continue to grow and we will become a stronger voice.

It’s awesome to see more women become Master Tequileras and how women in the Tequila/Mezcal industries especially are helping each other gain experience to rise up in the industry.

SinoLogo

TA:  What facets of the Tequila Industry would you like to see change?

JR:  The competitive aspect of the industry can be enjoyable, but at the same time, when it gets reduced to “my tequila/mezcal is better than yours,” it gets quite annoying.

I enjoy spending time with people that continue to teach me about what makes each tequila or mezcal different from one another.SinoVariety

Education over bullying is always a better result.

That’s why I love what you and others do for the industry.  It gives a forum for even little brands like me to speak up.  Thank you for that! [Editor’s note:  You’re welcome!]

TA:  Do you approve of how Tequila brands are currently marketing themselves?

JR:  I love the creative marketing aspects of the industry.

Some, I think, are a bit ridiculous, some a bit stale, but at the same time all of it is interesting.

I still think there is a lot more out there on how to bring in the culture of Mexico and [to] be creative with branding that I don’t always see.

I tend to like brands from a messaging standpoint that market somewhere between the Rancho image of Mexico and the Club scene of a major US city.

SinoSupper

There is so much more content to have fun with in the middle of those two extremes which I really try to tap into.

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila Industry in one form or another?

JR:  Yes, go for it!  If it is your passion you need to chase it.

I really live by what made my final decision to jump into the world of agave – “Si no tratas, no ganas”

If you don’t try, you won’t win.

As long as it is a passion and something you want to try for the love of it, then it will be an extremely fulfilling journey!

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Bullying in Tequila?

By now, many of you have seen or read the following story that first appeared in the Chinese press and was then regurgitated by the Mexican newspapers, followed by this video report concerning the alleged shutdown and supposed seizure of over a million liters of tequila at the Embajador distillery (NOM 1509) located in Atotonilco, Jalisco Mexico.

 

Recently, a concerned tequila brand owner emailed us the following:

 

“Curious–in your opinion do you think they [COFEPRIS (Comisión Federál para la Protección contra Reisgos Sanitarios)  and SAT (Servicio de Admistración Tributaria)] might be just flexing muscle?  Wonder if some of it was just paperwork and getting blown out of proportion?  …Nothing surprises me, anymore.”

 

Whether you’re a consumer or a tequila brand owner, you’d be correct in asking these same questions.

 

And, since you asked…

 

To me, this is clearly a case of government agencies bullying an up-and-coming player poised to enter the Asian market.

 

 

Here’s why I think that–

 

My sources tell me that the family-owned distillery has had a clean track record without a single citation in over 15 years.  Moreover, in the past year or two, the family has made a number of improvements and investments to the distillery in order to compete effectively in Asia, with a focus on China.

 

Oddly, the news broke almost immediately in the Chinese press with an exact list of the seemingly minor infractions and liters of tequila “seized.”

 

Why was it not reported in the Mexican press, first?  How did China scoop Mexico in its own backyard?

 

 

Realistically, the amount of seized juice could be estimated to have a wholesale value of $10 million dollars, and a retail value of exponentially much more.

 

Why would a family-owned tequila distillery suddenly become so careless with a process that is very near and dear to them?

 

In my opinion, this whole situation reeks of a deliberate and malicious act to not only bully the family-owned distillery, but to also smear its reputation locally, and potentially, globally.

 

The aforementioned sources also claim that no tequila  was physically seized, carted away or even dumped.  Customarily, the minor infractions that were meticulously listed in the news reports would only garner a fair warning and would never warrant such a full blown assault on any tequila producing factory.

 

Strong arming Embajador Tequila and making it a sacrificial lamb to justify the existence of an illusory campaign against illegally produced tequila is simply bad politics.

 

My research reveals that the Embajador distillery is working closely with the CRT. 

 

It will be interesting to see how this situation unfolds.

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Ambhar Tequila–The Recalibrating of A Brand

[Between seminars during the Fourth Annual San Antonio Cocktail Conference, Tequila Aficionado Media was invited to the Ambhar Tequila Relaxation Lounge inside the historic Sheraton Gunter Hotel where we finally sampled each expression of this elusive brand with a jaded past.

The following day, we caught up with the new Ambhar CEO, Jaime Celorio, at the acclaimed Bohanan’s Restaurant while the staff prepared for the busy dinner shift.]

The Deceptive Dragonfly

In the spirits realm, and in particular, the tequila segment, brands come and go for a variety of reasons–

Either the juice is not up to par,  or the ineptitude of the brand owners or importers causes a rift between them, or the marketing is all wrong.  You name it, it happens.

Every once in a while, a brand gets lucky and all the elements click and a star is born.

Partida’s Gary Shansby, a self-proclaimed student of one of Patrón‘s founders, Martin Crowley, once declared that a tequila brand needed three things to be successful–

Good juice, a pretty bottle, and a symbol with a story.

Ambhar appeared to have all three.

On the other hand, a tequila label could experience the worst

Ambhar Goddess review.
Ambhar Goddess review.

case scenario, but for some reason, it just doesn’t go away.

The latter may be the perfect example of what happened to Ambhar tequila.

All That Glitters…

Launched in 2009, Ambhar was originally based in Austin, Texas, but made its big splash on the Las Vegas Strip.

Ambhar Lounge logo.
Ambhar Lounge logo.

Owing to key friendships among the principals, Ambhar became a part of the Tropicana Hotel’s facelift in 2010 and established the Ambhar Lounge.

More key relationships allowed the brand to have a very visible presence, especially among the MGM properties.  Ambhar soon became Las Vegas’ go-to tequila for many events including several outdoor pool parties during the warmer months.

Then, things began to unravel.

After unbridled spending, Ambhar accrued a rumored debt of up to $2 million.  Another round of funding gave it a much needed infusion of $2.7 million from investors in 2011, but still, rumblings of unpaid bills and payrolls persisted.

Ambhar banner.
Ambhar banner.

To make matters worse, a series of ho-hum reviews, including this scathing blog by the OC Weekly, made Ambhar the butt of jokes among the tequila cognoscente who took particular issue with the label’s claims of being distilled five times.

It seemed that the powers behind Ambhar at that time had been blinded by the glitz and glam of Las Vegas, and paid a hefty price.

Saving A Broken Brand

Coming from a solid financial background, Jaime Celerio, CEO of the newly formed Ambhar Global Spirits, LLC., explains what attracted him to purchase the troubled label in 2013.

Challenges

Here, Jaime explains the dilemmas of taking over a broken brand and what is being done now to revive it.

Further, he illustrates the problems in dealing with the Nevada market, and which states Ambhar will target, instead.

 

Retooling

Ambhar Texas having fun at #SACC2015.
Ambhar Texas having fun at #SACC2015.

Overhauling the former sales and marketing division, Jaime Celorio has surrounded himself with both a young, enthusiastic crew along with some premier seasoned veterans to reestablish a foothold in Ambhar’s home state of Texas.

Damage control, and distancing itself from the past, also requires making some improvements to the packaging.

No tinkering will be done to the substantial and elegant bottle, but the corks will be changed from real to synthetic, and the stoppers, as well as the wearable dragonfly charm around the bottlenecks, will be made of a much lighter alloy.

To continue to win back customer loyalty and regain goodwill,

Ambhar barrel.
Ambhar barrel.

Celorio insists on concentrating on Ambhar’s strong points by demanding complete honesty and transparency on the website, subsequent point of sales (POS) materials, and from his sales team.

The More Things Change

When we met with the Ambhar Texas unit, they admitted that Jaime Celorio felt the brand itself would not have survived its tumultuous circumstances had the juice not been favorable in the first place.

Celorio next discloses the reason why Ambhar’s flavor profile, especially that of its añejo, remains intact even though it’s more labor intensive than the reposado expression.

Future Focus

In this snippet, Celorio recounts the improvements since rebooting the brand, and its focus for the future which includes sales in Mexico and exporting to China.

Here, Celorio discusses the focus on the dragonfly logo and what it means in China.

Cinco Vodka logo.
Cinco Vodka logo.

It’s Not All About Tequila

Like a good portfolio manager, Jaime Celorio has diversified by establishing a sister company to compete in the vodka sector of the spirits market.

The Texas Vodka Trail

In this clip, Celorio reveals plans for Cinco Vodka’s distillery based in San Antonio, Texas.

Cinco Vodka–Imported All the Way From Texas

Jaime further reviews plans for the Texas Vodka Trail Tour and its similarities to tequila distillery tours in Mexico in aiding to educate consumers.

In this portion, Celorio considers how competitive the vodka market is in Mexico, and where you can find Cinco Vodka.

So…Why Tequila?

Jaime Celorio, gives his explanation as to why he chose to sell tequila in the first place.

Same Old Friend, Whole New Character

Described as his “elevator pitch,” Jaime Celorio, gives us the one thing he wants people to know about Ambhar, and shares his vision for its future.

Whether in the US, Mexico, or even China, look for the recalibrated Ambhar tequila to continue to make splashes, but in a much more precise, targeted and cost effective way.

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Germán González–Tequila From The Heart

german gonzalez

[In early November of 2014, San Antonio resident and neighbor, Germán González, joined us at our home office.  That evening, he brought his full array of Tequila Uno (T1)–Ultra Fino, Selecto, Excepcional, Tequila Estelar, along with the much acclaimed ultra-aged Tears of Llorona. 

In a more relaxed atmosphere and without his signature Panama hat and guayabera, Germán guided us through a tasting of each of his offerings while sharing his wit, wisdom, and knowledge.]

The Present

 “To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts–such is the duty of the artist.”–Robert Schumann

What strikes you first about Germán González is his intense modesty when he discusses his vast accomplishments.  Secondly, it’s realizing the level of genius he possesses as a Master Distiller.  Thirdly, you are awed by the depth of his artistry.

Distilling what was arguable some of the finest tequila available in the

Chinaco logo.
Chinaco logo.

spirits market in the past with his historic family brand, Chinaco, today Germán humbly pours us proper amounts from his own equally lauded labels, T1 (Tequila Uno) and Tears of Llorona, and teaches us his trademark “toast from the heart.”

Taking his branded Riedel Ouverture tequila glass held at the stem, Germán places it over his heart and says, “salúd, from the heart.”  He then reaches out to each of us and, instead of touching at the rim of the fragile vessels, he turns his glass almost sideways and boldly tags the bowls sounding a lyrical crystal clang.

Afterwards, he lovingly looks at the platinum liquid inside his stemmed glass and says, “This tequila is amazing,” as if surprised that it turned out so well.

Coming from a family that played an integral part in both Mexico’s and Tequila’s sweeping history [you can read more about his family history here], Germán González is at once inspired by his past and firmly focused on his future.

The Past

A gentleman farmer by trade and a romantic at heart, Germán literally learned his profession from the ground up under the watchful eye of his father, Guillermo, a lawyer and politician.

At eighteen, Germán permanently moved to the family ranchos in Tamaulipas by himself instead of attending university.  For several years, he spent intensive weekends learning about the land from Don Guillermo, growing agaves, chiles, corn, soybeans and raising cattle.  He felt privileged and grateful to have his father as his instructor and mentor.

Don Guillermo also purposely kept him away from the La Gonzaleña distillery until he felt Germán was ready for the responsibility.

Tough Times

After several years of piloting Chinaco to unprecedented heights, creative differences with his older brothers caused Germán to seek a new distillery from where he could challenge himself to distill even greater tequila.

Luckily, his lifelong friend and owner of La Tequileña (NOM 1146) Enrique Fonseca, himself a celebrated tequilero, most recently with his Fuenteseca brand, literally gave him the keys to his distillery and allowed Germán to pursue his dream of producing the ultimate expressions of tequila that have ever been realized.

At the same time, Germán uprooted his family and moved to San Antonio, Texas in 2007 to learn about the liquor distribution system and also to study the fickle American palate.  He officially launched Tequila Uno in 2009.

Lessons Learned

Germán memorized two very important principles from his father where tequila was concerned–

That the quality of the agave will always assure favorable results and consistency.  That’s why he insists on using estate grown agave from a single plot of land or grove (huerta), and…

Used scotch whisky barrels are the secret to capturing just the right balance when resting tequila.

He deliberately employs the used barrels to take only the rough edges off of the Selecto when resting for his Excepcional.  Germán believes that this practice results in a more traditional reposado.

“It’s how reposados should taste–not like añejos,” Germán declares.

Then, he boldly adds, “I don’t care about the color, I care about the flavor.”

The Meaning of Mature

Germán believes the maturity of blue agave has nothing to do with the plant’s brix (sugar content) or age.  He judges the maturity of agave by its look and feel.

He prefers using  agave from Atotonilco, in the highlands of Jalisco, since he determined that they produce a close flavor profile to agave from Tamaulipas, and thus, compliment each other.

He had blended highlands agave with those from Tamaulipas when in charge of Chinaco during its second resurgence.  At that time, La Gonzaleña didn’t have enough agave in reserve as it had in its heyday.

Inside the Mind of An Artist

Tequila Uno
Tequila Uno

“The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work.  It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.” –Michelangelo

Behaving more like a painter or chef–hands on, using all of his senses–Germán González has in mind exactly what he wants Tequila Uno and Tears of Llorona to taste like and what effect he wants to attain with each expression.

He knows that flavor profile exists within the plant and the resulting juice, just like Michaelangelo knew that inside each slab of marble was a statue waiting to be released.

Germán distills Tequila Uno to set the flavors free!

  Chemistry vs. Alchemy

“Tones sound, and roar and storm about me until I have set them down in notes.”–Ludwig van Beethoven

Unless prompted, Germán never talks about the numbers, the chemistry or science of distillation like famed Master Distillers Carlos Camarena (Tapatío), Marko Karakasevic (Charbay), or Melkon Khosrovian (Ixa Tequila by Greenbar) have been known to do.  In fact, those were Germán’s worst subjects in high school.

Much like a mezcalero (mezcal distiller) does when producing mezcal, he uses his senses to tell him what alcohol by volume (ABV) his tequila should have to achieve the desired flavor and aroma.  The numbers then become minor details in the entire scope of things.  He allows the formation and density of the lingering bubbles (perlas) in his glass to be his signposts that he has succeeded.

 Balance Is Everything

Germán asserts that alcohol in tequila is not just about getting drunk.  He describes it as a necessary element in any tequila’s flavor profile.  In fact, he contends that mezcals, by and large, should be distilled at 45% ABV or higher to achieve its balance and to acquire its unique flavor profiles.

The key is finding the balance between the ABV and other elements of the highlands agave to bring about the nuances Germán demands for T1. That’s why Selecto is at one measure of ABV and Ultra Fino is at another. It has allowed him to produce two types of tequila for different

The full line of T1.
The full line of T1.

consumers–

The novice just beginning to explore tequila (Ultra Fino), and the collector or connoisseur (Selecto, Excepcional, Estelar) with more discerning tastes.  We encountered this technique at our tasting of Roca Patrón.  González has perfected this method into his own signature art form.

The Future

Germán González shares his global desires for T1.

Composer, artist, distiller–Germán González has elevated tequila into what it has always aspired to be–

A spirit worthy of the attention and appreciation of the masses throughout the world.

Whatever Germán’s next composition, be assured that it, too, will be a work of art, from his heart to yours.

 

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

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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Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

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!

 

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

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.

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Salud!!