I headed toward London on 7th October for Tequila Fest. Founded by Eduardo Gomez and starting its fifth year with the headline “The largest and original tequila and mezcal fest in the UK and Europe”.
Having been for the previous two I steered myself toward Brick Lane where they’d been but a coffee brought me to the realisation that looking at your ticket helps and that it was at the Bargehouse Oxo Tower.
I arrived around 13:30 and headed straight to the bar, third floor so as to get my bearings after an hour and half on the trains (UK trains aren’t exactly renowned) and a 30 minute walk.
Initially I wasn’t sure how it was going to be over three floors but there was a program provided with a map of exhibitors so it wasn’t long until I was familiar with the layout.
At the bar I got a beer and decided to pick maybe a half dozen exhibitors and most importantly, pace myself. There was a DJ playing and smells coming from Cafe Pacifico. The same Cafe Pacifico who were founded by Tomas Estes in Holland and went on to produce Tequila Ocho with the Camarena family. So all in keeping with the spirit of agave.
It was during this moment when I was given my first taste of the tequilas. The barman asked if I knew of Codigo and would I like to try the Rose.
I’d seen it about and after spending some time in Nashville it had come to my attention several times that George Strait was involved, “You like tequila?! Well George Strait has his own” ad.infinitum.
Codigo is aged in Napa Cabernet French White Oak barrels, thanks to Strait’s links to the wine industry. However, the Rose is aged only for a month and in uncharred barrels to enable a bit more floral to seep in.
It was like tequila water like rose wine but tequila. Incredibly light and refreshing. And although I wouldn’t go out my way to buy that expression, I find those types more of a talking point, it did make me wonder about the other Codigos.
The previous fests at Brick Lane were open planned with rooms off to the sides for lectures and a seated area out back for food.
Nothing of the sort here foodwise but there were seats placed throughout so you could take the weight off while the DJ done his thing and kept a fiesta vibe ticking over.
The second floor had a room for the seminars and master classes plus there was a cinema room on the first. I know they showed “Hecho en Mexico” because I chatted with a rep who was going around drumming up people to go watch.
But it didn’t take much until I was enjoying the layout. It ran parallel to my consumption but as they say, “correlation does not imply causation”.
Except maybe that Sunday afternoon.
Saturday vs. Sunday
Which brings me round to Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately for me I’d missed a couple of friends who’d got themselves down on the Saturday and to top it off I missed Carlos Camarena who was there for his new G4 tequila. By the Sunday G4 had gone as had several others that were listed on the map.
I know this, I was sober at the time.
So, a beer and a Codigo in I took a stroll. And I must say the place was a lot better than previous.
I’d just missed out on Patron’s “History of the Margarita” in one of the rooms but the new layout gave more wall space so the place had colour splashed everywhere giving a fantastic vibe.
I soon forgot how to spell margarita and there was always something to grab your attention if your mind wandered more than your legs. Be it the bottles of Padre Azul, which I love or the colour of various canvasses adorning the open brickwork. Looking on the map the artists were listed along with the spirits, fantastic stuff.
On top of that, placed in the stairwells were security guards. Good touch if you ask me. There was a lot going on, plenty of scurrying about by punters and exhibitors so a few of those, especially in the stairwells was welcome.
Stairs + tequila + me on a Sunday afternoon = ?
Answers on a postcard.
All the exhibitors bar one were incredibly friendly and on point. I shan’t mention who but it didn’t help that their tequila was by far the worst. Perhaps it was my shock that they used brand new barrels to rest the tequila which made the tequila taste like well, nothing. Shall we say “Not for me”?
But this is mere digression as although I only checked out a few I did talk to more and they all were happy to tell you their story. Agave information overload was high on the menu.
Having a few familiar faces on the stalls with different brands was great for re offenders.
Two years ago previous I ran into Cesar who was promoting Herencia de Plata. It didn’t fail me and I bought the repo so seeing the bearded cheeky grin I ended up talking to him about his current tequila, Reserva de Senor.
And yes, I bought it. The repo again. I seem to have a thing for repos…
As a side note, while chatting away in broken Spanish, which appears to improve with alcohol, there was a dance troupe that came into the area which were fantastic. More vibes, more tequila, more everything!
And speaking of more.
Maestro Dubel. I cannot recall the gentleman’s name but they were at a bar on the second floor. I’ve got the anejo and a friend had their Humito which is a smoked blanco. So this guy racks me every one of theirs. I refused the anejo on grounds that I know it but he knew what he was talking about. Not reciting the information, he had a love for the spirit and joined me in several sips.
Then, after all that he threw in a couple of shots of Jose Cuervo Platino and Reserva de la Familia for good measure. He’d happily have given me a shot of everything behind the bar if only I wasn’t wearing my sensible shoes.
I need to give a shout out to Megs Miller and Joe Wild from Altos who were all smiles and were my final stop before stumbling to the shop area to get a bottle of Reserva de Senor repo and a Corazon anejo. Except I got Corazon’s repo by mistake but no worries, the anejo turned up the other week and is as good as I kinda remember….
Worth Every Penny
Overall, Tequila Fest is worth every penny even if you’re going as a +1 and tequila isn’t your thing.
There’s plenty to get your attention and you may even find one that suits your fancy because there is one hell of a lot of tequilas and mezcals out there and the ones that get in on the fest are always fantastic.
I recall two years back there was Mezcal Gin. I’m not a gin lover but this was an outrageous drink. Absolutely uncivilised. Great.
Booze and Education
Thing is, not only is it “Come look at all this booze” it’s a well thought out and educational expo.
You can walk in knowing nothing, learn everything and forget it in the hangover the following day.
All the different methods are on show, you can taste the difference and hell, you don’t even have to drink! There’s so much happening, lectures, films, food and dance.
The atmosphere is beyond friendly, everyone is there because of a shared interest and belief in the spirit of agave. Eduardo and his staff/crew have done themselves proud. I wouldn’t put it as a family day out but even if you’re on a date.
Just remember to sip wisely!
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