Gracias a Dios is a double distilled mezcal, 100% artisanal, handmade with “piñas” from espadín agave and other varieties, ground and fermented in our own palenque in Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca, honoring fair trade with the help of maestro mezcalero Oscar Hernández Santiago.With a strong, aromatic and balanced flavor, this spirit is the product of a 4-generation family of maestros mezcaleros, who have traditionally kept the artisan processes of making this drink.
Sipping Off The Cuff
Sipping Off The Cuff™ began as an audio podcast in 2006 and is Tequila Aficionado’s first and longest running tequila review program.
Sipping Off The Cuff(TM) is broadcast regularly on YouTube and TequilaAficionado.com. If you are a Tequila, Mezcal or Sotol brand owner and would like your product(s) reviewed on an upcoming episode of Sipping Off The Cuff(TM), please contact Mike@TequilaAficionado.com.
About the Tequila Aficionado Brands of Promise
The Tequila Aficionado Brands of Promise Awards were our response to a secondary industry that has sprouted up around awards programs in the spirits industry. In a very much pay-to-play world where large sums of money are involved in entering today’s contests and even more is required of winners in licensing fees to use the award logos on marketing, online and point of sale materials, we felt it was time that something change.
[Moises (Moy) Guindi, one of the two dynamic founders of Milagro tequila, and J.P. DeLoera, Milagro’s Texas Brand Ambassador, hung around after The San Antonio Cocktail Conference held in January, 2015.Tequila Aficionado Media chased down these two gentlemen for a rare chat at the bar of the luxurious Westin Riverwalk Hotel.]
Ambassadors For the Modern Mexico
The time was 1997, and Europe had just signed a trade agreement with Mexico. It officially recognized such spirits as scotch and cognac, among others. In turn, Europe acknowledged tequila and mezcal’s denominations of origin. Even though Mexico had issued its Protection of the Appellation of Origin Tequila in the early 70’s, this agreement was the first step in tequila finally gaining the global respect it deserved.
Up until then, it had been heavily marketed as a traditional spirit often depicted in rustic agricultural scenes of burros and roping charros. But, a new millennium was near, and a bustling Mexico City was partying like it was 1999 with art, music, design and architecture.
For two young college buddies, Danny Schneeweiss and Moy Guindi, the Mexico City club scene was where tequila sorely lacked a more modern edge and feel. It was then that they deliberately set out to propel tequila’s image into the 21st Century.
Further emphasizing their respect for old world techniques, both J.P. and Moy describe how their exclusive joven tequila, Milagro Unico, is made.
Sophistication In A Glass
Milagro’s unique bottles have long been sought after by collectors. Moy blames his partner Danny, as the creative mind behind reimagining tequila’s image in clubs and bars around the world.
Milagro was designed to evolve tequila from a red headed step child to a sophisticated gentleman in a classy container. But, the partners also wanted it to educate consumers. They added a stylized agave inside each hand blown bottle of their Select Barrel Reserve expressions to illustrate tequila’s true bloodline.
In 2004, Moy and Danny entered into a partnership agreement with family owned super-premium spirits distiller, William Grant & Sons. The UK based company eventually acquired a 100% stake in Milagro in 2006. This allowed Milagro to reach nationwide distribution in the U.S. and in key global tequila markets.
Not ones to rest on their success, both Moy and Danny retained certain rights and still have responsibilities to the brand as Moy clarifies here…
After almost 20 years in existence, J.P. describes his strategies to Milagro’s current challenges in the marketplace.
Having birthed Milagro in the midst of the Agave Crisis of the late 90s that almost bankrupted them, Moy learned the hard lessons of staying ahead of the agave pricing curve.
What About China?
Unlike the major spirits brands who consider exporting into China as the next gold rush, Moy believes that a conservative “wait-and-see” approach is best for Milagro.
La Leyenda del Milagro
Both J.P and Moy share their views on the one thing that you should know about Milagro.
Demonstrating that they haven’t lost their entrepreneurial drive which spearheaded Milagro into tequila’s New Age and made them one of the top three most influential start ups in Mexico, Moy and Danny are currently involved in a partnership with Montelobos mezcal.
Few 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.
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.
When we first met Arturo Palencia, co-founder of the award winning Mestizo Mezcal, we were struck by his boyish charm and seemingly tender age. We were surprised to discover that this thirty-something was no newcomer to the competitive and often brutal spirits industry.
In this clip, Arturo tells how he became involved with mezcal and the surprising birth of Mestizo.
What’s In A Name?
According to Wikipedia, the term mestizo refers to a person of combined heritage, usually European (Spanish) and indigenous peoples of the Americas. The term was later used as a racial category during the Spanish Empire’s control of its colonies.
During that colonial period, mestizos became the dominant race in many Spanish speaking countries in Latin America, including Mexico.
Today, Hispanic or Latino is the more appropriate term, but for Arturo the meaning of mestizo for his mezcal is much more poetic and thoughtful.
Arturo and co-founder, Jessica Rosman, spent countless hours journeying throughout the mezcal producing regions of Mexico in search of the perfect single village, settling on Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca.
In this taped portion, Arturo introduces us to his 4th generation maestro mezcalero and his nearly 300 years of tradition.
With more brands popping up at an alarming rate in the current booming mezcal market, Arturo discusses Mestizo’s process in gauging its target audience that is looking for a more palatable mezcal.
As a college student in the mid-2000s, Arturo was actively involved in the initial launching of the infamous Fat Ass Tequila.
Produced as an old style tequila in a hand blown bottle, and marketed to the Spring Breakers that invade Cancún and Cabo San Lucas, it became wildly popular with both connoisseurs and young people, winning numerous awards along the way.
Then, it virtually disappeared from store shelves.
Here, Arturo describes what it was like to be on the ground floor of this provocative brand.
Words like artisanal or handcrafted are loosely bandied about in the spirits industrythese days. But, whether as a young college student helping friends launch their tequila brand, or today, plotting Mestizo’s success, Arturo Palencia’s focus hasn’t changed–
To bring to market a high quality spirit while preserving its tradition. In Mestizo’s case, maintaining consistency and promoting sustainability also go hand-in-hand.
In this snippet, Arturo reveals how Mestizo does both by their unique barrel aging process.