MIKE: Hi you’re watching Sipping off the Cuff on Tequila Aficionado Media. I’m Mike Morales here in San Antonio. That young man over there is…
RICK: Rick Levi, in San Diego.
MIKE: Rick and I have the distinct, I think we’re the only tasters in the country that have had the pleasure of tasting Felipe Camarena’s three creations, three lines of tequilas. And tonight, we got lucky boys and girls. We have G4! G4 – now you – we discussed this when we talked about Terralta, which it hasn’t aired yet. Tell me, you met Felipe Camarena.
RICK: I did. And, I actually I was able to get him to sign a bottle for me, I dunno if you can see that there, so.
MIKE: Ahh! You dog! Ahh…
RICK: So that’s the G4 XA. You’ll catch that episode in a bit. (laughing)
MIKE: Yeah, in a future there. But anyway…
RICK: But yeah so there was a – Larry had a reception for Felipe Camarena at Cantina Mayahuel. In San Diego, and Larry is the proprietor.
MIKE: Larry Aumen the proprietor.
RICK: And he’s also Don Lorenzo.
MIKE: Right, right.
RICK: And, so, I got this great opportunity, I got there early, and I was able to talk with Felipe quite a bit before the crowd came in and you know, it was just a wonderful experience. He’s a great guy, he is really into the engineering of the distillery and, of course, he has one of the most sustainable distilleries, if not THE most sustainable distillery for tequila. And you know, he’s got a couple of engineering degrees; he started out I believe as a civil engineer, and then when he decided he was going to go in totally on the distilling and start his own distilling, he actually went back and got a chemical engineering degree as well.
MIKE: So, he didn’t – when you, he didn’t really learn the business from his grandfather in other words. Or his father.
RICK: Well, I’m sure he did. You know his, Felipe’s sons are now the 4th generation.
MIKE: That’s what this stands for, right?
RICK: That’s right. And that’s why it’s called G4. So Felipe’s a third-generation distiller, as is his brother Carlos, of La Alteña. And of course, you know we know Carlos from El Tesoro de don Felipe, from Tapatio, from Tequila Ocho, which Felipe also helped get off the ground with Carlos.
MIKE: Oh, good. Ok.
RICK: And then, you know, I guess with that experience Felipe decided he wanted to go and actually open his own distillery and actually be able to set up his own equipment the way he wanted, and it’s just created all of these really cool innovations that don’t really change the traditional way of making tequila, but it enhances it and makes it more efficient and sustainable.
MIKE: Well, let’s give everybody the NOM number just so that they know, in case that they haven’t seen… you know at this point, our Terralta videos have not aired yet, so you folks are – we’re going to do these in sequence, but right now, 1579 is the number of the NOM. And that is distilería el Pandillo and that’s in Jesus de María in Jalisco, which is like what? The neighboring town in Arandas, it’s like…
RICK: Yeah, it’s right there up a little bit to the East I believe.
MIKE: Can I –
RICK: And Jesus María is yeah, I think it’s slightly higher than Arandas. So I think Felipe grows most of his agaves at about 6800 feet. And that is pretty much the highest agave growing altitude that I think anybody’s growing at.
RICK: And in terms of 1579 we reviewed Jake Lustig’s Arte NOM last year.
RICK: And we loved it.
MIKE: Oh yeah.
RICK: And his other line is Pasote that he makes, and that was also 2016, right?
MIKE: Well, 2016 and then Alex and I did the – Also, so that particular line has been reviewed by all of us, by the three of us, to raving reviews, so…
MIKE: And then of course, you and I did Terralta, which at this point hasn’t aired, but you probably maybe have already seen it. And that was an unusual combination because he had a high proof 110 blanco and a barrel-strength añejo, which that was a barrel-strength extra añejo wasn’t it.
RICK: Extra. Yeah, it was a 110 XA, which you know I think I said when we were taping, but at that point I think he was just showing off.
MIKE: Yeah! Well, I’m –
RICK: So, you were talking about the bottles…
RICK: … and when I was talking to Felipe, you know I’d ask him about his process and I’d ask him about his barreling. And he’s not a big barrel guy. You know, he does it because I think that’s what’s expected, you create a while line at different ages, but you know his real interest is in you know presenting the agave, not necessarily adding other layers from the barrel. So, you know, that’s his focus. It’s just the agave; he’s not into the bottles, or the fancy labels, or the marketing. He doesn’t go crazy over barrels like some producers will. He’d rather make really great juice, than you know make really eye-catching bottles, but his bottles are quite handsome.
RICK: And something quite interesting that he’s done, is you’ll see on the G4 bottle, embossed in the bottle is the emblem of the distillery. There’s a tahona, and then there’s an agave, and there is a bull.
MIKE: A bull; un toro.
RICK: And you’ll find that in a lot –
MIKE: Well you can see it right there too on the label on the back end.
MIKE: Yeah that’s his logo right there.
RICK: And so what he did, is for G4, that is embossed on the back. And then he uses the same bottle for Terralta, and then turns it around, it’s on the front!
MIKE: (laughing) But you know, that’s so clever! Why doesn’t anybody else do that?
RICK: It really is! It really is! And they’re very handsome presentations.
MIKE: Yes, yeah.
RICK: And so, why not?
MIKE: Two for one, ladies and gentlemen, two for one. And you know, there’s always the question how many different flavor profiles can a guy come up with in a single distillery, right? And there’s always been that kind of controversy, you know nobody can come up with a bunch of tequila flavor profiles. You and I, you know we – I think busted that myth when we did Armero, which was like 7 different varieties of the same line, and all coming from La Cofradía, and just when you think they can’t come up with something new, they have!
MIKE: So, and by the same token, Felipe has done a wonderful job with, as far as I’m concerned, with Pasote and with Terralta. I mean, we just fell all over ourselves with the Terralta and Pasote.
RICK: Felipe, you know there’s this great family tradition of distilling, and so I’m sure he learned within the family, but then he just, I guess he really just wanted to know more. And you know, he went and got that chemical engineering degree so that he could….
RICK: And now, he could probably pull together any kind of profile you wanted, you know. They call him the mad scientist of Jesus María.
MIKE: Well, I’m anxious to try this blanco because if it’s any indica – well, you know, I’ve had some and I know that you, you know for the sake of transparency, Rick has had this before, he’s actually been out and bought some before they were actually sent to us.
RICK: I couldn’t wait.
MIKE: For a Sipping Off the Cuff.
RICK: As soon as they hit California I had to go get some.
MIKE: Yeah, but so this was my first attempt at this particular line. And as far as I know, it’s not yet available in Texas. The PR company that was responsible for sending this to us, is about to launch nationwide, huge. They’re out of – I forget the name of the company, forgive me, I’ll find that between reviews, but they made this possible and they are out of Illinois. So the major markets are a big focus for them, and –
(Editors Note: PKGD Media)
RICK: Are you looking for Lake Shore Spirits?
MIKE: Probably. I’m not sure – that’s the importer.
MIKE: We were contacted by another entity and… Anyway, I’ll get a hold of that name shortly. But this is the, we’re using the prototype that we are working with a designer by the name of Romeo Hristov who I actually interviewed for our open bar show yesterday. He is a glass merchant and designer in Austin, Texas. And he reached out to us and he’s working closely with Stolzle. Stolzle Glassware and I believe they’re out of… the USA office is in Pennsylvania. This is a prototype of what we’re hoping will eventually become the agave spirit glass for all agave spirits, hopefully. And we have a long neck version and a short neck verison, so we’ll be interchanging both of these.
RICK: And the really interesting thing about Romeo as well, is that he is a archaeologist by trade.
RICK: And has spent a lot of time studying and examining drinking vessels from Central America.
MIKE: He, really his desire is to design a drinking vessel that is historically accurate to agave spirits to that particular drink and that agave spirits being, encompassing everything; mezcals, raicias, bacanoras… So he’s a fascinating guy and hopefully we’ll be able to have that interview somewhere, I’m hoping somewhere either end of August, somewhere in early September, because we’re – we have so many tequilas that we have to get to, that we’re trying not to step on our own tails here folks. Anyway… Ahh my gosh.
RICK: (smelling noises)
MIKE: Now, would you say this is a green agave that we’re getting? Or..? Because I’m not getting baked so much, but there’s a, there’s like a tropical fruit quality somewhere at the top.
RICK: Yeah, or mabye like a little bit of a green pineapple, or something.
MIKE: Okay. I’ll buy that, I’ll buy that. I will tell you off the bat, and I don’t – I’m letting you know. Really the only way to tell is to do a side by side, by side, of all three varietals, all three lines. But if this – to me, the nose is somewhat reminiscent of Pasote. Not so much Terralta, but I think it reminds me more of Pasote, but more toned-down. You know, more…
RICK: I would agree. With the Pasote blanco, we were talking about a kind of green funkiness to it.
MIKE: Right, right.
RICK: And this, I’m not getting the funkiness.
RICK: But I think, like you said, we’re definitely picking up on the green.
MIKE: And this glassware is outstanding. I’ve got to tell you that it’s as thin as the Glencairn, and you’ll be seeing us using the Glencairn a little bit later on. But, wow. And, you’ll notice that it doesn’t take a whole lot of a sample to get much of a nose. It’s a wonderful…. Now we’re holding it with our fingertips. It is a flat-bottom surface, so honestly any type of heating of the liquid is really negligible. So, which is nice, but if you want to hold it by the bowl you can as well. See, I’m getting – you’re right, tropical fruit but there’s also citrus notes also.
RICK: Yeah, like I’m also getting some grapefruit I think.
MIKE: That’s what I’m getting: I’m not getting lime zest, I’m getting grapefruit.
MIKE: Wow, that’s beautiful man.
RICK: And Felipe has planted some citrus trees in and around his agave fields. And he does open-air fermentation. So, and he uses natural yeast lime that, he’s developed.
MIKE: Wow, I’ve got to go in. We’ve got to dig in.
RICK: Really nice entry, and the pepper starts up right away.
MIKE: Yeah, what I love about tasting in these tumblers, these jarrito tumblers, is that I’ve noticed that there’s a consistency, a congruency between the nose and the intake.
MIKE: There’s no, there’s no surprises. It’s actually – it’s quite easy. I’ve never had it…
RICK: Yeah, I’m finding this glass to be very revealing of the…
RICK: …of the aroma components.
MIKE: Oh, now that it’s opening up. This is the second time I’ve done this. The first time, Lisa and I were together and she tasted it out of the, nosed it off his glass, and I could swear that I got just a hint of wet cement. I haven’t had a hint of wet cement in a long time, probably not since old El Tesoro. And it’s just, it’s almost like at the bottom. And this glass diffuses the alcohol very well; if there’s any alcohol, very much like the Riedel, it’s at the bottom of the glass where it belongs and it doesn’t get in the way of the nosing, so it’s not like you get that instant burn in your nostril.
MIKE: I’m getting it right here in the side. It’s like, you know on a hot day when you water down your garage.
MIKE: That smell of wet cement – that’s what it smells like! Or, I’m from New Mexico or had lived there for 18 years, so when it rains during monsoon, you can smell it before it gets to you. And that’s what it smells like, we call it wet cement because it’s the water evaporating as it hits the ground because it’s been so hot in the summer. I’m getting it like right here. And you don’t have to dig in very deeply to get that. It’s just, it’s just a hint; it’s not like overpowering it’s not like whoa like I just watered my garage. I don’t know, I don’t know Rick if you’re getting it, but I, right here…
RICK: I think I can pick up on what you’re describing. What I’m enamored with right now, is I think I’m getting some slight floral notes.
MIKE: Yeah, it’s probably not as floral I think as what we found with Terralta; Terralta was really a floral sweet nose as I recall. But again, I’ll have to rewatch that review and revisit the tequila. There’s so many other tequilas that we’re going to do for our Brands of Promise, it’s not even going to be funny. Because if you can believe this folks, Felipe Camarena will be competing against himself, in his own particular category – go figure!
MIKE: That’s crazy! You know that’s crazy…
MIKE: Ahh. So what do you think? Brand of Promise Nominee as well?
RICK: Oh absolutely, man.
MIKE: (laughing) Geez!
RICK: You know, this is gorgeous. So something else we should be saying about the G4 brand…
RICK: …is when Felipe started up his distillery, something he really wanted to do, is he wanted to have two lines where he could showcase the differences between different sources of water. So Felipe has, you know, this large distillery. He set up all of his roof area to collect rainwater and so he’s harvesting rainwater you know, whenever he can get it.
MIKE: Talk about environmentally friendly, huh?
RICK: Yeah. And his other source of water is from a spring-fed well. And so what he has done with G4, is he’s using a 50/50 mix of his harvested rainwater and his well-water. With Terralta…
MIKE: Okay, so this is directly 50/50, correct?
RICK: And that’s what he had done with Jake Lustig on the Arte NOM as well.
RICK: But with the Terralta, it is 100% from his well. It’s you know, the spring water.
MIKE: It’s all spring water.
RICK: Yeah, and so it has a much larger mineral character to it. Whereas this comes across much softer because of the rainwater.
MIKE: Well, I don’t know about the Arte NOM version, but if we were to compare that, I think Arte NOM is, it’s a much softer version of this, if you can believe it.
RICK: It is. And they’ve done this –
MIKE: It’s even softer isn’t it?
RICK: Yeah. With the Arte NOM, they’ve done this aeration process prior to bottling as well. Which, we don’t have with the G4, so…
MIKE: Right. Okay, well that explains it because it is – but as I said, the nose immedia – it’s really interesting, because we’re pulling out all of these other elements from his other brands. It’s like, this – I’m telling you, it’s like watching the Avengers. You’ve got Thor, you’ve got the Hulk, you’ve got Captain America.
RICK: Or it’s almost like, you know, it’s almost like he’s conducting an orchestra of you know, flavor components. And you know, for one brand, he wants to the horn section to be a little bit louder, for another brand he wants the strings. And so it’s really, it’s amazing to experience his work.
MIKE: Look at the, look at the legs and tears.
RICK: But I would say this –
MIKE: It’s beautiful.
RICK: Yeah. This is a very accessible tequila. And it is –
MIKE: When you say accessible, you mean approachable, right? It’s like everybody should, everybody will fall in love with it.
RICK: How we said the Pasote was a little bit more challenging.
MIKE: Yes, yes.
RICK: It has a particular character, and if you’re not into that character, then you know, you may not be into it.
RICK: And then with Terralta. Terralta’s very peppery and mineraly, and you know, that’s I think we were saying it’s an aficionado’s tequila.
RICK: But with G4, you know, this blanco anyway so far, I find, is just really beautiful and accessible. It is well done; all of the great components are there. It is great for aficionados, but I think it would be something that would be hard for anyone to turn away.
MIKE: I think you’re right. I think it’s the more mainstream, the more mainstream line of his lines. But you know, everybody’s going to be different so you guys decide. As far as I’m concerned, this is a Brand of Promise Nominee in the Legacy category. I think it’s instant-Legacy. Beautifully done.
MIKE: And like you said, I think you hit the nail on the head, Rick. I think it’s a very approachable or accessible tequila to even the novice.
MIKE: I think if you were going to be introduced to Felipe Camarena as some people have been introduced to Carlos, it would be like with el Tesoro and then maybe go with Tapatío later on. I think with Felipe, I think this would be the intro, wouldn’t it?
MIKE: This would be the introduction to the master.
RICK: G4, it’s Felipe 101.
MIKE: (laughing) Well, you know, I – congratulations again Felipe Camarena. That’s our take on G4, that’s the blanco, now stay with us because we’re going to do the whole line, and we’re going to get deeper and deeper into this labyrinth of… deeper into his mind.
MIKE: That’s just scary. I think I need to…
RICK: Descent into madness.
MIKE: Yeah, I think they’ve got to wheel him out with a leather mask or something.
RICK: (laughing) Ahw.
MIKE: : (laughing) You know? He’s like a, well, we call him a mad scientist. For, you know, all in good nature, because he is just a genius is what he is. But stick with us, that’s their G4 Blanco. I’m Mike Morales in San Antonio. That young man is…
RICK: Rick Levi, San Diego.
MIKE: And don’t forget, if you’re watching us on Youtube or anywhere else, subscribe to where you are watching or listening to us, but as we always say here, tomar sabiamente.
RICK: Sip wisely.