Lunazul Blanco Review by Steve Coomes

lunazul, blanco, tequila, silverI’m always surprised when someone watches me pour a spirit from a bottle, sip it straight and then shoots me a look that implies I’m a drunk or a daredevil.  “Don’t you want to mix it first?” such inquisitors ask. “I mean, it’s kind of harsh just straight, isn’t it?”

Well, of course, it can be, especially if the spirit has no chance to breathe or it’s not well made.  “No,” I typically reply kindly. “I sip it straight because I want to know exactly what it tastes like. That way I can decide whether to mix it or sip it straight.”

Such answers convince only a few to join me in the exercise, and only a fragment of those ever learn to enjoy unadulterated spirits. But most do seem to get the principle so widely accepted in cooking: that you must know your ingredients intimately in order to cook well. Such logic also is essential to great cocktails.

I had the chance to apply that rationale this summer after receiving a bottle of Lunazul Blanco ($22-$25) on July 2. The date is important since I was invited a Fourth of July party where numerous spirits enthusiasts would bring fun stuff to share. Either this bottle, newly labeled with blue trim, would be a surprise sipper or better served in a cocktail, and I was in the mood to find out.
I started with small glass of it straight, swirled it a bit, let it rest and came back to it after a few minutes. The first sip brought a lot of alcohol, a surprising amount for an 80 proof spirit, and just a hint of agave. It was thin on the palate, lacking body like many blancos, especially those approaching the value category.

I let it breathe about 10 minutes and went back: an herbaceous entry, a little tamer sting, but still lots of alcohol with notes of menthol and peppermint.

lunazul, blanco, tequila, silver Again, I let it sit awhile before coming back after munching on a bit of fresh mozzarella. Expectedly, the cheese softened the alcohol blow and unexpectedly amplified some wintergreen and vaguely fruity notes. Not bad, but again, I gave it a rest of about 15 minutes before coming back to it.

The nose now promised a little agave, some faint roasted pineapple and some musty floral aromas. Intriguing, but not exciting.

Convinced this wasn’t going to be a dynamite sipper, I considered a batch cocktail for the party. Given that most there would be bourbon or beer drinkers, I figured I’d play down the middle with margaritas. Helping my decision was the fact that the Mexican market I visited the day before was selling limes at 10 for a $1, so I bought 30.

I’m a recent convert to margaritas without orange accents: just agave syrup, lime and tequila. Simpler the better. And in this mix, Lunazul Blanco served perfectly. The sharpness I disliked before now knifed through the sour mix and even revealed agave notes I couldn’t detect before. It wasn’t overpowering, I was no longer hot on the palate, it was quite simply, just right.

Quite clearly, cocktails are this tequila’s calling.

* End note: Keep your eyes open for a unique Lunazul offering to hit store shelves in September, a double barrel reposado aged in Larceny Bourbon barrels. I got a pre-bottling sample yesterday from Lunazul’s parent company, Heaven Hill Brands. And just to tease you a little, it is delicious. A full bottle review is forthcoming.

 

Steve Coomes

Tstephen coomes, steve coomes, Embajador, Tequila, Supreme, Anejo, Review, Steve Coomesequila Aficionado is proud to welcome rising star in tequila and traveljournalism, Stephen Coomes, as a Contributing Writer and Reviewer.  His steady gigs include roles as contributing editor for Nation’s Restaurant News (the U.S. restaurant industry’s largest publication), restaurant critic and feature writer for Louisville magazine, feature writer for Edible Louisville and Seafood Business magazines, Kentucky traveland dining contributor for Southern Living, and dining blogger for Insider Louisville. He also writes marketing, PR, web copy and ghostwrites for numerous private clients.  You can visit Steve online atwww.stevecoomes.com.

 

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Embajador Añejo Tequila Review | Steve Coomes

Embajador, Tequila, Supreme, Anejo, Review, Steve CoomesCompared to its siblings, Embajador Supreme Añejo is a big, big brother. 

Rested for 18 months—a full 10 months longer than its Premium Reposado—Supreme is a veritable post-grad student compared to its primary school brothers.

Yet, for all that age its color is surprisingly pale gold.  Not that color determines everything, but 18 months is a loooong sleep, a rest I assumed would yield a deeper amber cast.  (As I noted in my review of the Premium Reposado, used cooperage likely is the reason for its light color.) 

But don’t despair or stop reading now, patience has its rewards. Proceed apace.

The nose produces aromas of roasted agave, cherry and even a pleasantly sour orange curacao, which I dug.  Like Thanksgiving turkey, it’s fun just to sniff before inevitably giving into tasting.

Though not overly assertive like some añejos, the flavor is delicious, offering up abundant wood notes tempered by cocoa, ash, toasted oak, caramel, floral tones and honey. 

Simultaneously sweet and vegetal upon entry, its texture becomes weighty at mid-palate and especially when moved around the mouth.  There’s briefly nougat-like density at midpalate that fades quickly to honey before skulking off to a slow and delicate finish. 

The exhale practically ignites notes of rose and lavender, providing insight into the wild yeast influencing its ferment.Embajador, Tequila, Supreme, Anejo, Review, Steve Coomes

Having now tasted its full line, it’s clear that Embajador wants its tequilas to finish fast.  Perhaps that bids drinkers back to the glass for more or leaves them searching for lingering, pleasant flavors?  I don’t know.  But none of the three offerings give much of a goodbye.

Such a rapid departure isn’t an insult, however, it’s just different. And to be fair, I’m also a bourbon drinker who loves a high-proof palate punch, which isn’t for everyone. 

As proven by the success of Avion tequilas, there’s an abundance of drinkers who enjoy light-bodied sippers, and this would certainly fit that profile.

Distiller’s note: Supreme is best enjoyed neat at 68 F.

Embajador Tequila Online

 

Tstephen coomes, steve coomes, Embajador, Tequila, Supreme, Anejo, Review, Steve Coomesequila Aficionado is proud to welcome rising star in tequila and travel journalism, Stephen Coomes, as a Contributing Writer and Reviewer.  His steady gigs include roles as contributing editor for Nation’s Restaurant News (the U.S. restaurant industry’s largest publication), restaurant critic and feature writer for Louisville magazine, feature writer for Edible Louisville and Seafood Business magazines, Kentucky travel and dining contributor for Southern Living, and dining blogger for Insider Louisville. He also writes marketing, PR, web copy and ghostwrites for numerous private clients.  You can visit Steve online atwww.stevecoomes.com.

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Embajador Reposado Tequila Review | Steve Coomes


Embajador Tequila, premium, reposado, review, coomesPremium, the second of three
Embajador Tequila offerings can be described as the good middle child of the bunch–

Eager to please, never offending, yet losing a tad of its uniqueness sandwiched between its siblings.

According to the distiller, it’s rested for eight months in American and French Oak barrels, meaning the final product is a blend of juice from both types of cooperage.  It’s pale, straw color suggests that all its cooperage is used since precious little color is given back to the tequila.

 Its aromas aren’t dominant, but pleasant nonetheless.  Banana, toffee and agua miel are evident, and the grassy note that sneaked into the Platinum comes out in the Premium as well.  A bit more time and swirling reveal a bit of citrus and a touch of ash.

Not surprisingly, Premium is fairly light bodied and modestly leggy. Vigorous swirling sets off wide-set and narrow trails down the glass’s sides, hinting correctly that it won’t dominate the palate.  But that doesn’t mean it won’t please the tongue either.

Embajador Tequila, premium, reposado, review, coomesA sip reveals strong notes of cocoa, vanilla less so; and toasted marshmallow even less.  You have to work for it, but it’s there and worth waiting for.  Just close your eyes and summon it.

Finish is fast, hinting of but not slamming home, white pepper.  It’s slightly drying and a tad mineral, but pleasant all around.

Premium is not complex, but that’s not a criticism.  A young reposado blended from its rest in American and French oak doesn’t get the chance to assume a distinct personality of one barrel or the other, it just emerges balanced.

Which is likely where Embajador wanted it.

Distiller’s note:  Premium is best enjoyed served at 64 F.

Embajador Tequila Online

 

Tstephen coomes, steve coomes,equila Aficionado is proud to welcome rising star in tequila and travel journalism, Stephen Coomes, as a Contributing Writer and Reviewer.  His steady gigs include roles as contributing editor for Nation’s Restaurant News (the U.S. restaurant industry’s largest publication), restaurant critic and feature writer for Louisville magazine, feature writer for Edible Louisville and Seafood Business magazines, Kentucky travel and dining contributor for Southern Living, and dining blogger for Insider Louisville. He also writes marketing, PR, web copy and ghostwrites for numerous private clients.  You can visit Steve online atwww.stevecoomes.com.

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Embajador Blanco Tequila Review | Steve Coomes

platinum_box_03_lampleft_b, embajador, platinum, blanco, silver, tequilaNote to all tequila distillers…

I love it when, along with your generous review bottles, you supply a story of how your tequila is made.

The makers of Embajador tequila did this by sending a simple folder with a few laser-printed pages that told a brief but helpful story about its goods.

And they are good.

(Some time after I typed my original tasting notes, I found it had a new and informative website.  Click here to enjoy that story.)

logo w border, embajador, platinum, blanco, silver, tequilaTranslated, Embajador, simply means ambassador, and it serves well in that role in welcoming the drinker into a solid sipping experience.

According to the distiller, half its agaves are baked the historic way, in a stone horno; the other half in a steam-heated autoclave.  According to the company, blending those techniques creates an array of aromas rather than just a few notes.

Once fermented, it’s twice distilled to preserve agave flavor and aroma.  After that, Platinum rests 40 days in stainless steel before bottling.  According to Embajador, laying low for that stretch develops balance and character, though it doesn’t specify how.

To be honest, I didn’t get an array of aromas when I poured some platinum, but the bloom butterscotch and cooked agave was substantial.  Both aromas lingered before giving way to a barely noticeable and appealing grassy note.

The first sip of the blanco was slightly bracing, but refreshing, a delightful zip for an 80-proof spirit.  Its mayahuel, embajador, platinum, blanco, silver, tequilapeppery finish was an open invitation to sip again, so I did.

Subtly but pleasantly sweet, the mid-palate picked up some cotton candy interlaced with a bit of cinnamon.  The finish on that go-round left some traces of lemon and vegetal notes.

Exhaling produced some pleasant menthol notes followed by orange blossom.  Once emptied and dried, the glass gave off delicious aromas of roasted agave.

Platinum stood up nicely when mixed in different cocktails, but given my druthers, I prefer this one straight.

Its fresh, light flavor profile loses a bit of personality even when properly mixed, which is my wife’s preference.  The good news is we both enjoyed Platinum to our liking.

One last bit of info from Embajador…

Platinum is best consumed at 60 F, so put it in the fridge for an hour or so before drinking to cool it off.

 

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Tequila Ocho Single Barrel Anejo Tequila Review | Steve Coomes

Tequila Ocho Single Barrel Anejo imageYou only turn 50 once, so why not celebrate?

That was my logic last fall when I bought a bottle of Tequila Ocho Single Barrel Anejo (NOM 1474). I don’t commonly spend $78 for spirits, but, hey, it was a special occasion made extraordinary by this smart splurge.

Some reviewers tend to gush over new spirit finds and wax poetic about the sipping experience. I promise I won’t do that. But what I do promise is this tequila is worthy of all praise. It is truly exceptional, one the finest I’ve ever tasted.

Made from agave harvested in 2012, the tequila was distilled and aged one year and 19 days under the watchful eye of Carlos Camarena. Bottled at barrel proof (109), the añejo is straw colored, nowhere near the golden brown common even to some reposados. But that lightness belies the profound barrel influence here. As the script on the back label promises, “You hold in your hands the truth of agave, a sepia-toned tequila terroir.”

True, true.

The nose is powerful, redolent of agave, wild flowers and a hint of caramel. It’s so inviting that it’s hard to wait for it to open up. Just dive right in.

ochoBut prepare for the bite, which is neither subtle nor a punch in the face; it’s mostly what you expect from a high-proof spirit. Though it demands your attention, the sting is short lived and quickly gives way to sweet complexity of light caramel backed by citrus, agua miel, huge minerality and white pepper. A second sip delivers spice and smoky wood notes to the mid-palate. That tequila that young picks up so much wood character in only one year is amazing.

A brief rest, then a third sip brings an even greater array of flavors: coriander, lemongrass, field grasses and Vietnamese cinnamon, all riding a wave of ample body.
Some long-aged bourbons never achieve such structure, yet this anjeo gets it in a single year. Surely Mexico’s weather extremes boost body during aging.

I didn’t notice that a friend, a casual tequila drinker who’s not big on it neat, poured himself a a couple of ounces. But I caught his expression of astonishment after he sipped it.
“My gosh, that’s crazy good,” he said. “Where did you get that?” (Isn’t it fun to see someone “get it” and recognize they’re drinking something extraordinary?) He was thrilled to know it came from our neighborhood liquor store.

I’ve had Tequila Ocho’s fantastic plata, and this añejo somehow maintains that expression’s youthful agave and minerality while adding layers of complexity. The aged product is beautiful and exuberant, yet smooth and classy. It’s Rob Lowe in 2015: miraculously holding on to his boyish good looks while maturing with gentlemanly grace. Treat yourself to a bottle of this if you can find it.

 

Special thanks to Australian Bartender for the video share.

 

stephen coomes, steve coomes,Tequila Aficionado is proud to welcome rising star in tequila and travel journalism, Stephen Coomes, as a Contributing Writer and Reviewer.  His steady gigs include roles as contributing editor for Nation’s Restaurant News (the U.S. restaurant industry’s largest publication), restaurant critic and feature writer for Louisville magazine, feature writer for Edible Louisville and Seafood Business magazines, Kentucky travel and dining contributor for Southern Living, and dining blogger for Insider Louisville. He also writes marketing, PR, web copy and ghostwrites for numerous private clients.  You can visit Steve online at www.stevecoomes.com.

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Casa Noble Joven Review

Casa Noble Joven

 

CasaNoble_JovenFew spirits I’ve tasted—tequila or otherwise—grabbed my attention the way Casa Noble Joven did when I tasted it at the distillery two years ago. Traveling with a press group led by the distillery’s CEO, Pepe Hermosillo, we’d consumed multiple expressions of Casa Noble while there. But this one, packing a 104 proof punch, was simply electrifying.

Not because it was hot or a peppery-boozy tongue lasher, but because at nearly still strength and without any aging, the tequila told the story of the agave from which it came better than any I’d had at that point in my life.

A couple of my peers didn’t agree. They weren’t comfortable with the proof and said Joven overpowered their palates. I thought privately, “You’re missing out! Try it again and get used to it!”

Drinking this way is part of life where I come from in Louisville, Ky. That’s Bourbon Country, where high-proof spirits are preferred by many because that’s where the flavors are. Sure, it takes practice to nose and sip such rocket fuel correctly, but it’s worth it when you taste George T. Stagg 141 proof or a barrel-strength Four Roses.

But Casa Noble Joven didn’t demand such patience. It was—to my palate—immediately drinkable after a few swirls in the glass. Instead of a burn, it felt as if slightly carbonated, a delightful buzzing sensation.

The nose was abundantly fragrant: floral, tropical-fruity and loaded with heaps of roasted agave. It may still be the most inviting tequila I’ve ever nosed. The flavor was lush, laden with sweet agua miel, spicy white pepper and highlands agave minerality. Unlike some of my colleagues, I wanted more and received it in a generous pour from Hermosillo, who smiled in approval.

Two days later, at a tequila dinner in Louisville attended by Hermosillo, I met a liquor store owner who’d bought an entire barrel for his store and was having it bottled. I had to have one. Once acquired, I rationed it out slowly and carefully, treasuring it.

Don’t miss this part: That turned out unnecessary when I made a cocktail with it. Here’s why. Even though I love Joven straight, my standard 2-ounce pour of tequila (any spirit) took over the drink, not the desired effect. Next time I used 1.5 ounces and it was perfect. I’d never had a better margarita.

But wasn’t it too costly at $50 a bottle to use in a cocktail?

Not at 1.5 ounces per pour. When I did the math, I figured out that using Joven to make the ultimate margarita (scratch sour mix only) was actually less expensive than pouring 2 ouncees of Casa Noble’s 80 proof Crystal. Crystal is an exceedingly fine blanco, but its younger brother is even better.

Cannot recommend this one highly enough—if you can find it.

 

stephen coomes, steve coomes,About Steve Coomes

Tequila Aficionado is proud to welcome rising star in tequila and travel journalism, Stephen Coomes, as a Contributing Writer and Reviewer.  His steady gigs include roles as contributing editor for Nation’s Restaurant News (the U.S. restaurant industry’s largest publication), restaurant critic and feature writer for Louisville magazine, feature writer for Edible Louisville and Seafood Business magazines, Kentucky travel and dining contributor for Southern Living, and dining blogger for Insider Louisville. He also writes marketing, PR, web copy and ghostwrites for numerous private clients.  You can visit Steve online at www.stevecoomes.com.

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Tequila Penasco Anejo by Steve Coomes

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Follow Penasco online: FacebookTwitter.

 

 
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Tequila Penasco Reposado by Steve Coomes

penasco, reposado, tequila, Tequila Penasco Reposado

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find Penasco online here.

Follow Penasco on Twitter here.

Follow Penasco on Facebook here.

stephen coomes, steve coomes,Tequila Aficionado is proud to welcome rising star in tequila and travel journalism, Stephen Coomes, as a Contributing Writer and Reviewer.  His steady gigs include roles as contributing editor for Nation’s Restaurant News (the U.S. restaurant industry’s largest publication), restaurant critic and feature writer for Louisville magazine, feature writer for Edible Louisville and Seafood Business magazines, Kentucky travel and dining contributor for Southern Living, and dining blogger for Insider Louisville. He also writes marketing, PR, web copy and ghostwrites for numerous private clients.  You can visit Steve online at www.stevecoomes.com.

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Herradura Coleccion de la Casa Review By Steve Coomes

herradura, Herradura Coleccion de la Casa, Reserva 2013 Cognac Cask Finish Reposado

Herradura Coleccion de la Casa, Reserva 2013 – Cognac Cask Finish Reposado

By Steve Coomes, Tequila Aficionado Contributing Writer

In October, I visited Casa Herradura Tequila distillery, in Amatitan, Jalisco, Mexico, where I and five spirits writers tasted the new Coleccion de la Casa, Reserva 2013 – Cognac Cask Finish Reposado. Aged 11 months in American Oak and finished an additional three months in cognac barrels, the new tequila, released this fall left me both perplexed and intrigued.
After just a few sips, I was challenged to conceive what master distiller Maria Theresa Lara was seeking from the second barrel maturation. Clearly, it wasn’t the common profile of an añejo.

Its tasting notes claim a hint of smoked oak, but it eluded my nose and palate. Agave, however, was well represented, as were some delicate vegetal notes. Though leggy in the glass, the mouthfeel was lean: a quick entry followed by a quick exit. A writer beside me described its finishing as “drying,” which was dead on: neither abrupt and sherry-like, nor lengthy and tequila-like.

Curious about the reposado on which the Cognac Finish was built, I asked if we could taste it, and our hosts happily obliged. The differences were stark. The Cognac Finish lacked most of its cousin’s sweetness and fuller mouthfeel. Where one may imagine a double dose of wood might amp up the vanilla, caramel and cinnamon, all three were somewhat muted.

The trade-off was redolent spice, especially white pepper, an abundance of agave, lightly herbaceous undertones and hints of citrus and pineapple. When we lunched later, its lean profile paired amazingly well with a menu that included raw clams and roasted lamb.

This is a sophisticated tequila, well balanced and nicely structured. It plays no tricks and keeps no secrets. What you get after a few minutes’ rest in the glass is largely what you get 20 minutes later—if you let it rest that long that is. Suggested retail: $89 per 750ml bottle; to be sold in Mexico, United States, El Salvador and Australia.

 

 

stephen coomes, steve coomes,Tequila Aficionado is proud to welcome rising star in tequila and travel journalism, Stephen Coomes, as a Contributing Writer and Reviewer.  His steady gigs include roles as contributing editor for Nation’s Restaurant News (the U.S. restaurant industry’s largest publication), restaurant critic and feature writer for Louisville magazine, feature writer for Edible Louisville and Seafood Business magazines, Kentucky travel and dining contributor for Southern Living, and dining blogger for Insider Louisville. He also writes marketing, PR, web copy and ghostwrites for numerous private clients.  You can visit Steve online at www.stevecoomes.com.

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How to Get Paid to Drink Tequila:

How you can turn your passion into profits and get paid to drink tequila as a blogger, vlogger, podcaster or author

 

Salud!!