Glass Bottom Spirits: At the End of Good Tequila

What’s at the End of Every Good Tequila?

In the agave spirits soaked Southern California market, no distributor works harder or smarter than owner Humberto Ibarra, importer and distributor at Glass Bottom Spirits.

Co-founded with his cousin, attorney Arturo Lomeli Ibarra in December of 2012, Glass Bottom Spirits was established with a single vision and purpose–

Glass Bottom Spirits: At the End of Good Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5tn

To import and distribute only the best premium tequila that the great state of Jalisco, Mexico had to offer.

Glass Bottom has since expanded its portfolio to include craft Mexican beers and wines whose quality they believe in.

As a licensed wholesaler, importer, and distributor of the brands they carry, it allows Glass Bottom to set competitive prices to retail stores, restaurants, clubs and bars throughout California.

We spent a warm autumn afternoon talking tequila with Humberto at his offices in Pico Rivera.

[*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.]

From Nothing to Something

In this clip, Humberto shares with us his background, what brand building means to him, and how his mother-in-law came up with the company’s unique name.

Humberto divulges his tips for start up tequilas and mezcals contemplating entering the American market.

Ibarra admits that some brand owners have unrealistic expectations when coming into the United States.  He feels it’s his job to steer them in the right direction.

Glass Bottom Spirits: At the End of Good Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5tn

Of vital importance to him–

That each brand he imports and distributes must budget for some kind of marketing in order to compete for mind share in the already over-crowded liquor store shelves and restaurant back bars.

The Magic of Mandala

Here, Humberto discusses what it takes to bring a small brand with a specialty bottle onto the burgeoning Extra Anejo segment.

Tequila Tasting with Humberto

This clip discusses the sexy Chisholm Trail Crafts jarrito tumbler for tequila tasting with the newly relaunched 4 Copas tequila.

What a Chore

We continue our tasting flights with Humberto Ibarra’s newest acquisition, La Tarea tequila.

With the agave crisis looming, the demand for smaller, craft brands that are supported by their own agave will be more in demand.

We also touch lightly on mezcal medley (ensemble), The Lost Explorer.

The Importance of Distribution

Glass Bottom Spirits: At the End of Good Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5tn

In an era of mega-mergers between competing distributors, the informed consumer will be seeking more quality craft agave spirits.

To that end, small-to-mid sized distributors will become even more important for these brands in the race to compete with the Big Dawgs.

Glass Bottom Spirits seems poised to maintain significant shelf space for its clients against all comers.

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!

Don Fermin Reposado Tequila Review

Mike Morales and Alex Perez taste and discuss Don Fermin Reposado Tequila.

Here’s what they thought: “Caramel vanilla aftertaste” and, unenthusiastically, “a nice reposado”.

TEQUILA DON FERMÍN REPOSADO

don ferminColor and Body: Clear tones of agave syrup, medium body.Aroma: a harmonious blend of vanilla, black olive, cooked agave and wood.

Taste: Slightly sweet with clear notes of apple, eucalyptus and oak.

Finish: Pleasingly warm spirit notes that are smooth on the palate, leaving behind a hint of sweetness.

About Don Fermin

Centrally located in Tequila, Jalisco distillery Leyros S.A. de C.V. is known as one of the six largest distilleries in Jalisco, Mexico. Leyros, born in the 21st century has introduced a manufacture process that departs dramatically from traditional tequila production.This innovative process is very friendly to the environment; it uses less than half the energy, and under 60% of the water normally required in traditional tequila making. Leyros produces some of the most premium tequila using only the best Highlands 100% Blue Weber Agave.

When distillery Leyros was first opened, it was opened with the idea to produce high Quality tequila for those needing those services. Leyros is known as we call in Spanish, Maquiladores (Producers). Leyros created many high quality brands for other brand owners. Family members and friends of the Leyros owners always questioned, why not have your Tequila? That’s when Tequila Don Fermín® was born, originally created to share with friends and family only. After great reviews from friends, family and Tequila aficionados from different parts of Mexico, Leyros owners decided to share their Ultra Premium Tequila with the world.

Named after one of the Leyros owners late grandfather, Don Fermín® sets the bar high for Ultra Premium Tequilas. Don Fermín® is made from the finest 100% Highland Blue Weber agave sourced from the rich earth of Los Altos region of Jalisco. Hand-selected at harvest for highest quality and peak ripeness, our plants yield the sweetest piñas, giving the tequila its abundant character and balance.

Don Fermíns beautiful bottle named “La Espiga” (The Spike) designed and named by late world renowned Mexican Architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, known for such work like Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Tequila Don Fermín® although produced at one of the largest distilleries in Jalisco, is still know as a craft spirit. Don Fermín® only produced in small batches and our aged varieties also only aged in small batches, aged in New American white oak barrels.

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!

Don Fermin Blanco Tequila Review

Mike Morales and Alex Perez taste and discuss Don Fermin Blanco Tequila, nominating it for the 2014 Brands of Promise Awards.

Tequila Don Fermin Plata

don ferminColor and Body: Brilliantly clear platinum, with medium body. An expression of the highest purity as a result of continuos column distillation.

Aroma: Fresh, citric and fruity. Herbal notes that suggest the agave fields, with subtle tones of mint and spices.

Taste: Light, with undertones of pear, mint and spices. A fine balance of spirit and agave notes.

Finish: Clean, warm, smooth spirit notes, open pleasing.

About Tequila Don Fermin

Centrally located in Tequila, Jalisco distillery Leyros S.A. de C.V. is known as one of the six largest distilleries in Jalisco, Mexico. Leyros, born in the 21st century has introduced a manufacture process that departs dramatically from traditional tequila production.

This innovative process is very friendly to the environment; it uses less than half the energy, and under 60% of the water normally required in traditional tequila making. Leyros produces some of the most premium tequila using only the best Highlands 100% Blue Weber Agave.

When distillery Leyros was first opened, it was opened with the idea to produce high Quality tequila for those needing those services. Leyros is known as we call in Spanish, Maquiladores (Producers). Leyros created many high quality brands for other brand owners. Family members and friends of the Leyros owners always questioned, why not have your Tequila? That’s when Tequila Don Fermín® was born, originally created to share with friends and family only. After great reviews from friends, family and Tequila aficionados from different parts of Mexico, Leyros owners decided to share their Ultra Premium Tequila with the world.

Named after one of the Leyros owners late grandfather, Don Fermín® sets the bar high for Ultra Premium Tequilas. Don Fermín® is made from the finest 100% Highland Blue Weber agave sourced from the rich earth of Los Altos region of Jalisco. Hand-selected at harvest for highest quality and peak ripeness, our plants yield the sweetest piñas, giving the tequila its abundant character and balance.

Don Fermíns beautiful bottle named “La Espiga” (The Spike) designed and named by late world renowned Mexican Architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, known for such work like Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Tequila Don Fermín® although produced at one of the largest distilleries in Jalisco, is still know as a craft spirit. Don Fermín® only produced in small batches and our aged varieties also only aged in small batches, aged in New American white oak barrels.

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.

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!

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!!