Mansplaining Revel Spirits Avila

You thought you knew everything there was to know about the main Mexican agave spirits–

Pulque, Tequila, Mezcal, Sotol and Bacanora.

Then, along comes another one you’ve never heard of…

Avila.

What the hell is it?

Glad you asked.

Get Acquainted with Avila

You first heard about Revel Spirits’ Avila on Sipping Off the Cuff(c).

In 2016, during our very successful Heartland Tour, we led the Revel Avila Spirits Experience.  It was a delightful sampling of its three expressions to a packed house of VIPs at 6 Smith restaurant on the shores of Lake Minnetonka.

And, for the agave geek in all of us, Revel Avila Agave Spirit Facts explains away the mysteries and misconceptions of Revel Spirits Avila.

Why Haven’t We Heard of Avila Before?

Simply put, it doesn’t have a Denomination of Origin–yet.

This magnifies what the good folks at Revel Spirits are trying to accomplish.

Rather than being accepted and lumped into the Tequila or Mezcal designations, Revel Spirits has undertaken the herculean task of starting a whole new spirits category.

Not only are they importing a luscious distillate, but they are working closely with the government of Morelos to establish its own Denomination of Origin (DO).

Giving Back at The Ranch

One of the basic pillars that Revel Spirits is based on is philanthropy. So, in the meantime, the company has pledged to act just like a proper Geographic Indicator.

Revel Spirits is helping to lay the groundwork that will support the farmers’ and jimadores’ livelihoods, preserve Morelos’ unique environment, and safeguard the supply of blue weber agave for generations to come.

This last phase is accomplished by allowing bats to pollinate the blue agave, an ancient technique that is nearly lost in the Tequila Industry.

All this will aid the growth of the economy of the Mexican state of Morelos.

Favorite Pairing

Revel Spirits Avila anejo, aged for 24 months in French oak barrels and bottled at 48% ABV, or 96 proof, is a rare gem.

It can be paired equally as well with a rich dessert, or a fine after dinner cigar.  Notes of bitter chocolate or cacao, and coffee beans, along with wood and tobacco undertones, makes it a versatile expression.

Enjoy!

Pairing La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor Cigars with Tequila

The fine folks at Holt’s Cigar Company asked Mike Morales to help them pair their cigars with tequilas.  In his latest blog at www.tequilasensei.com, he pairs with tequila the highly rated–95 points and the number 2 cigar in 2011 by Cigar Aficionado–La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor, blended by the famed Jose “Pepin” Garcia in Esteli, Nicaragua.

You can watch the following video for the quick one-minute pairing or read Mike’s full review of La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor and pairing suggestions by clicking here.

 

Embajador Tequila Pairing at Torch Cigar Bar

[*FTC Disclosure: Brands appearing on the Tequila Aficionado Wild Wild West 2017 Tour were vetted as Brand of Promise(c) Nominees and paid a nominal fee to be included.]

Spark Me Up!

Across the vast Desert Ridge Marketplace on trendy High Street in Phoenix is nestled the fashionable Torch Cigar Bar.

Embajador Tequila’s freshest customer provided them an early evening time slot for a tequila and cigar pairing that did not disappoint.

Torch Cigar Bar

Torch Cigar Bar is the new gold standard in cigar bar and lounges.  A lovely, spacious lounge with a contemporary feel, plush furnishings and a warm, inviting atmosphere.

For fine cigar and spirits lovers, Torch is considered a sanctuary from hectic schedules and day-to-day concerns.

Wide Selection

Billed as having over 200 premium cigars and over 200 total spirits, shelf space at Torch is scarce, but…

There’s always room for passion and craft tequilas.

Bar Manager, Chris Cuestas, describes Torch’s growth in Phoenix, and his plans to expand the tequila and mezcal choices.  [Editor’s note:  Chris also makes a mean espresso!]

Cigar Expert Extraordinaire

Torch’s Cigar Maven, Shannon Horton, shares her options on pairing puros with each of Embajador’s expressions.

Inside the Humidor

Replete with personal lockers for members to stash their prized sticks, Torch’s state-of-art humidor is designed as a shrine to fine tobaccos.

Here, Shannon explains her recommendations for Embajador’s anejo, the Caldwell Eastern Standard Midnight Express.

Embajador Tequila and Cigars:  A Perfect Pairing

Andres Garcia, Regional Sales Manager for Embajador Tequila, explains his reasoning for approaching Torch in the first place, and why small batch tequilas make perfect sense in this environment.

Save Your Sanity

As Jon Harrington, co-founder of Torch, puts it–

“…save your sanity in an insane world….”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BaNqBVYjMlX/?taken-by=tequilaaficionado

Visit Torch Cigar Bar and save your sanity.

The Añejo Way of Life With Señor Rio Tequila and Cigars by M.A. “Mike” Morales

I admit, I have a soft spot for Señor Rio tequila.

A snifter of Señor Rio añejo on the patio.
A snifter of Señor Rio añejo on the patio.

Sure, it’s produced at the famed La Cofradía distillery (NOM 1137), where its flagship tequila, Casa Noble, grabs all the headlines these days.  And the co-founders, Jonathan Gach and Debbie Medina have a great love for tequila and a great love story, too.  And, yes, it comes in a helluva pretty bottle.  But those aren’t my reasons for my affinity to the brand.

It’s their exclusive cigars that pair so well with Señor Rio tequila that bring a smile to my face.

In The Beginning…

Waiting to be lit.
Waiting to be lit.

I was first introduced to Señor Rio Cigars when CEO, Jonathan Gach, sent me a pair that were infused with Señor Rio blanco tequila.  It was a novel idea at the time since tradition dictates that cigars be paired with wines and darker spirits.  Naturally, these were meant to be enjoyed with Señor Rio blanco and its fragrant smoky bouquet and long finish.

The concept of pairing cigars with blanco tequilas compelled  me to seek other blanco tequila and cigar combinations that ultimately lead to my recent article in Cigar Advisor.

Completely hooked, I couldn’t wait to spark up these newer versions of Señor Rio Cigars that Jonathan was kind enough to share.

Pure Elegance

Señor Rio's presentation dresses up any occasion.
Señor Rio’s presentation dresses up any occasion.

Simply placing the Señor Rio bottles outside on the patio table dresses up any occasion and calls for your fanciest lighter, ashtray and crystal snifters.  One whiff of the big, veiny Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper and I couldn’t stray from tradition.  A snifter of  Señor Rio añejo was in order.

From the very start, this stick had all the signs of a handmade gem, lighting beautifully, drawing smoothly and burning evenly with a nice ash.  The combination of the Honduran and Dominican filler, along with the Connecticut broadleaf binder made for a tequila lover’s delight.

Nice ash.
Nice ash.

The hints of leather, wood and nuts courtesy of the wrapper blended nicely with Señor Rio’s initial sweetness. The cigar’s light spiciness (cloves) enhanced the nose and married graciously with the aroma  of the añejo.  Moreover, the cigar’s easygoing softness didn’t interfere with Señor Rio’s medium-to-long finish imparted by its aging in used French white oak barrels for two years.

With the reposado, however, the pairing was more evenly matched.  Aged only six months in used French white oak barrels, it does not have as long a finish as the añejo and this fusion was a duel of the senses.  Each commanded my attention with every sip and draw.  While at times the añejo seemed to step aside, the pairing with the reposado demanded to be noticed.

Up close and personal with Señor Rio tequila.
Up close and personal with Señor Rio tequila.

Once Señor Rio blanco was served, it was comparing night and day.  Everything I had experienced throughout my enjoyment of the cigar was brought to bear with the blanco.  It was a Wimbledon tennis match at Centre Court between two distinct athletic styles where your taste buds are the line judge and the crowd cheers with every volley.

The Añejo Way Of Life

Enjoying the Añejo Way Of Life.
Enjoying the Añejo Way Of Life.

You don’t have to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation (or of a tequila brand or online tequila media company, for that matter) to enjoy Señor Rio.  The pure elegance of its bottle presentation and the tequila’s flavor profile alone can take you to your happy place, what I call “the añejo way of life.”  Coupled with a Señor Rio Cigar, and your trip there will be that much quicker.

Sadly, these puros are not available for retail, yet, and are primarily used at special events and promotions.  But, as Jonathan Gach puts it, “I have been a cigar smoker for 37 years and along with tequila, this is another passion of mine.”

On the positive side, Jonathan is contemplating some exciting future plans for Señor Rio that includes the addition of even more enticing tobacco blends to go along with his stellar tequila.

In the meantime, look for Jonathan and Debbie and the whole Señor Rio tequila crew at your nearest cigar bar and liquor store.  It’ll be your shortest route to the “añejo way of life.”

Jonathan Gach and Debbie Medina, founders of Señor Rio tequila.
Jonathan Gach and Debbie Medina, founders of Señor Rio tequila.

For more information on Señor Rio, visit them here.
At Facebook.  On Twitter @senorrio .

senor rio


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Founder’s Feature: Tequila Aficionado’s 1st Podcast, 7 Years Later

The preceding podcast was recorded by Tequila Aficionado’s Founder, Alexander Perez, on March 21, 2006.

Sadly, many brands still persist in the Tequila Girl marketing that Alex mentioned over seven years ago.  Some brands believe they’ve evolved and took it a step further with Tequila Boy marketing.  I believe the true aficionado finds both of these offensive.

True aficionados don’t buy their tequila based upon how attractive an ad model is.  It saddens me that so many brand marketers are stuck in the 1990s and won’t let go of this old advertising paradigm.

When all you put out there is co-ed bimbos doing shots, drinking from red Solo cups, or worse, from the bottle, you’re telling the world you don’t want your brand to be taken seriously.  I love a shirtless hunk as much as the next straight woman but don’t try to dazzle me with him while you pour cherry soda and light beer into a blender to hide the taste of your mass produced tequila.

Show me a brand owner, male or female, who is smart, savvy, self assured and passionate about their tequila and I’ll stop what I’m doing to listen.

Alex said “Tequila companies need to rethink their marketing tactics” and they still do.  The big boys are still marketing their swill with expensive distractions, but the little guys…we love the little guys here at Tequila Aficionado.  The little guys are slowly changing the tequila marketing landscape.

People like Alex Viecco at Montalvo who is also involved in programs to create biofuels from tequila production waste products; people like Sergio Olmos of Nuestro Orgullo who take up the banner for a family business and knock themselves out trying to create the best product possible, not for the money, but for family pride and love of agave spirits; people like Laurence Spiewak and Lance Sokol of Suerte who put thought and meaning into a logo rather than attempting to dazzle us with tits and ass.

Yes, there are still small brands that believe they can grow by emulating the big brands with sponsored DJs, rock bands, edgy artists, and girls with great plastic surgeons but they rarely make it past that crucial five-year threshold.  Superficiality attracts superficiality.  When your marketing involves pretty girls in club attire giving shots to partygoers who will quickly forget what they drank, then you must realize that your tequila will last only about as long as their buzz does.

I think we’re on the cusp of something, though.  It makes me very happy to see tequila brands that are finally letting the tequila do the talking.

As brands take themselves and their products more seriously, so too does the consumer.  People like Mary Clemente of Jurado Tequila are partnering with great chefs like Grant MacPherson.  Pairing dinners are becoming popular ways to market good tequilas and I hope they’ll soon take the place of trays of shot glasses.

People are beginning to appreciate what great tequila and tequila culture can bring to their lifestyle through books by authors like Lucinda Hutson.  Lucinda was well ahead of her time when she first began this journey, but perhaps tequila drinkers have grown up enough to become aficionados and truly appreciate the treasures she pens.

We welcome these changes at Tequila Aficionado.  Alex’s vision was that Tequila Aficionado become a resource for all things agave including mezcal, sotol and other agave spirits.  He wanted to interview people in the industry, people with a passion for fine tequilas, people breaking the old paradigms.  He wanted to provide honest discussions about the merits of particular spirits over tastings, not just a simple “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” He envisioned an online resource that would bring depth to tequila culture.  He hoped to create in a magazine what a master distiller creates in a small batch, something that pleases the senses, enhances, informs, and provides the perfect finish that brings you back time and time again.

Something was missing in the mix all these years, but we believe we’ve finally found the right combination to bring that dream to fruition.

We have new Sipping off the Cuff episodes airing every week so you can taste along with us; bloopers and outtakes so you can laugh with us; Founder’s Features that are interviews and articles of significance to tequila history; Portraits in Tequila taking you beyond the label to see the story of the people behind the tequila; reviews of books on all aspects of tequila from dirt to drink and beyond; reviews on tequila related products like glassware and the foods, treats and cigars that can be paired with tequilas; articles on agave related industries; features on distilleries; and reviews of hotels and restaurants in Mexico’s tequila region.

We will always have a focus on the finished tequila product, but we’re deeper than that.  We’re no longer focusing simply on the finished tequila; we’re expanding to encompass all of tequila culture because, after all, it isn’t about just a quick shot –

It’s about the whole experience.

We look forward to sharing that experience with you.

Lisa Pietsch, COO

 

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What If There Were No Duty Free Tequila?

In the December 17, 2009 issue of Drinks International online magazine, the headline reads:

WHO plans global duty free liquor ban

The story goes on to say…

“The World Health Organization (WHO) has shocked the duty-free industry by proposing a global ban on duty-free liquor sales, a business which was worth $6.3bn last year.”

The proposal to slow down alcohol consumption was actually published in December of last year, but will finally get onto the WHO’s Executive Board agenda between January 18-23, 2010. The Board is made up of health ministers from 34 leading countries, and if it approves the proposal, it will be presented to the WHO’s full annual General Assembly in May 2010.

Keith Spinks, secretary general of the European Travel Retail Council (ETRC) believes that the proposal will pass the Executive Board and into the General Assembly that is made up of 193 governments, and warns, “If this goes though, it will be a disaster for the industry.”

Should the World Health Organization ratify this proposal, there is an upside.  According to Spinks, this proposal on liquor would not be “binding.”

“It is going to be up to each member country to decide whether to implement the proposal or not.” But, he adds, “My fear is that some countries will and some won’t, leaving us in a big mess.”

In 2005, the WHO tried to ban duty-free tobacco sales through its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The FCTC was ratified by 165 countries worldwide, but has yet to be implemented by any country.

A quick review of the members of the World Health Organization may give a clue as to why.

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Tourism

All countries which are Members of the United Nations may become members of World Health Organization by accepting its Constitution.  So, which countries are members?

Australia, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, UK, and the USA, to name just a few.  Most all of these countries have one or more international airports with duty free stores selling among other things, spirits, cigars, and cigarettes.

Not only do most of these member countries tout tourism as a major industry, but many also have their signature spirits (and cigars, in some cases) that define them.  Examples are rum from Barbados, limoncello from Italy, and of course, tequila from Mexico.

Where duty free merchants pay inventory/business or other taxes, customers usually pay none.  For these countries, tourism, and the profit made at duty free shops from alcohol and tobacco sales, is directly related to each other.

How much damage could the enforcement of this proposal do?

WHO vs. Patrón

As stated above, duty-free liquor sales from last year amounted to $6.3 billion in 2008.  That accounted for 17.2% of the total global liquor business according to the Drinks International article.

In the April 2008 issue of Impact Magazine, it states that Patrón tequila was also penetrating the travel retail sector overseas, long a key channel for high-end spirits but one in which tequila was underappreciated.  Patrón was aggressively growing its brand by sampling at very visible public relations events in key cities such as London, Athens, Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney, all whose countries are members of the World Health Organization.

The Patrón Spirits Company, producers of Patrón tequila, claim on their website to be in over 100 countries and islands worldwide.  Given that there are only 193 members of the WHO, the chances are good that Patrón is available in the duty free stores of most of these member countries.

Assuming that the same 163 countries that ratified the duty free tobacco ban in 2005 also decided to ratify—and enforce–the duty free alcohol ban, the results could be devastating not just for Patrón, but also for Sauza, Brown-Forman (El Jimador brand), and Jose Cuervo, as well as all spirits suppliers, duty free retailers, and airports.

While it seems likely that the World Health Organization’s Executive Board will ratify the alcohol ban proposal, it seems unlikely that any countries will actually enforce it.

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