Open Bar with Alan Camarena of G4 Tequila

Open Bar with Alan Camarena of G4 Tequila https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5OD Mike Morales interviews Alan Camarena, son of Felipe Camarena, nephew of Carlos Camarena and representative of the 4th generation (G4) of tequila makers at El Pandillo distillery.Mike: Hi, you’re watching Open Bar, on Tequila Aficionado Media. I am Mike Morales. This is a special edition of Open Bar, because that young man there is Alan Camarena. Now, if that name sounds familiar to you, we’ve all heard from his father, Felipe Camarena, Ingeniero Felipe Camarena, and his uncle, Carlos. Well, the reason I wanted to talk to you Alan, is because we have heard such great, wonderful things about G4.

Alan: That’s great.

[chuckle]

Mike: And, it is on fire throughout the United States. The guys who are importing this into the US, Shawn and Jeff, those guys have been working their butts off.

Alan: Oh, I know yeah, yeah. They’ve been doing a great job. We’re really proud with our distributors, nobody that we’ve ever dealt with before has actually had such detailed attention with the customers. So, they really have their eyes on what the consumer is craving for, and they’re actually letting us know, so that we have time to prepare for those steps. They’ve been very attentive at actually getting in person to the bars that actually are doing great with our product, and we have been going there, just to talk about what we do and why we pursue it the way that we do it. So yeah, I would extend a thank you to all of the distributors and their team.

[chuckle]

Mike: Yeah, these guys, PRP Enterprises is the importer, the official importer of G4. Now, what’s interesting to me, Alan, is that you have, in our Sipping Off The Cuff last year, Felipe, Ingeniero Felipe, your father, took what we considered, Best In Show, because it is a rare thing to have three distinct brands coming out of the same distillery, with three distinct flavor profiles. And to do as well equally across the board, on the market and… Explain to me a little bit about how you got involved… ‘Cause, you’re also a DJ, right? You do…

Alan: Yeah, yeah, I produce a lot of music, I record, well, I make a lot of beats. But, going back to the tequila though, I’ve been with my father ever since he started building the distillery. So yeah, I’ve had my time to get bored over there and actually analyze everything in-depth. So, we handle a few different brands, although, all of them share the same quality, most of what has come in to play to make them different, that was like more of a necessary difference, or rather, more of a necessary name change for the difference that it made had to do with the water, because it did change the flavor so dramatically when we went from having a really… Well, I would say… It’s hard to say. It’s unfavorable, rainy season, we ran out of rain water and spring water, so we ended up producing our first batch with deep well water that is being pumped from 150 meters underground. So, when that happened is that well, we of course expected some profile change.

Mike: Right, right.

Alan: Because, of the water source. But, we didn’t expect it to be so dramatic. So, when we got to that point, the first thing that I said to my dad was, “Well, we need to change the name of this product.” “Why?” Because we don’t want people to say, “Hey this is not G4 anymore”, like, “What’s going on in there?” And…

Mike: Right. Yeah, because you know how the public is, they like their consistency especially.

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: Especially in the US. You can go to McDonald’s anywhere in the world, and you know what to expect.

Alan: It’s that for me, I accepted that it might feel shady when something like that happens, when you have a profile and you’re used to a profile, and then something else comes up, you can always think the worst.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah, and sadly, that’s the way the public is. There have been other brands who have rested their tequila, not as long, and then because they’re such small batch, that there’s a difference from batch to batch, and so…

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: You know, the Reposado doesn’t taste as good as the last batches, and people kinda, you know. You’ll get differing opinions on every batch.

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: And so, you guys did the right thing. Explain to people about the rain water; you use a combination of rainwater and well water, is that correct?

Alan: Spring water.

Mike: Spring water.

Alan: Yeah. There’s three water sources, one of them is rain, the other one is spring water, and the other one is the deep well. Although, in the G4 profile, we only stuck to… Well, just centering ourselves to the balance between rain water and spring water.

Mike: So, it’s a 50-50, right?

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: Okay.

Alan: For economic reasons, ’cause if you run out of the rain water, just doing like 100% rainwater, then how are you gonna make more G4, if you don’t have any more water to balance it out, right?

Mike: Right. Right.

Alan: While there is some space to play with it creatively, to eventually make like a 100% rainwater profile, we also acknowledge that as being more expensive because we cannot speculate with the rain. You know?

Mike: Yeah.

Alan: It’s always random.

Mike: It’s like trying to figure out the agave pricing. [laughter]

Alan: Yeah, it’s true. It’s true. It’s somehow chaotic, we do not know when people are gonna start offering their agave more cheaper, and… So, we always gotta hold ourselves to what we have immediately. And, try to keep it safe, instead of just sacrificing and try to play for the risks. ‘Cause otherwise, we’re gonna end up with half a batch of what we could have done.

Mike: And, that’s the beauty of what you’re doing, especially with the natural elements involved, the rain water. ‘Cause, having had all three of the profiles that currently that are coming out of El Pandillo, there is a very distinct difference in the flavor profiles. Some people call it a funkiness, with one brand, as opposed to another. First of all, explain to me, how do you feel being the fourth generation? La cuarta generacion, how did that come about? I’m sure you threw around a whole lot of names. So, how did you get your generation on this, and how does that make you feel?

Alan: Well, it makes me feel fine. It makes me feel great. ‘Cause, right now I’m getting a title that, I feel like, a lot of people, even though they deserve, they don’t really get until later on in their life. Right now, we’re getting introduced into it, we’re sliding into it. Although, my dad’s still in charge of most of the decision making in the distillery, we need to respect that, we are advancing ourselves in the ways that we believe, me and my brother, can make the product better.

Mike: Your brother Luiz, right?

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: Okay. So, are you two… You’re not twins, are you?

Alan: No, we’re not twins, he’s five years older than me.

Mike: Okay, so he would, technically… Is G4 for the both of you or for you?

Alan: Yeah. No, it’s both of us.

Mike: Okay.

Alan: Yeah, we are both the fourth generation of distillers in the family.

Mike: Okay. Here’s an interesting question. I know a family of sotoleros. And, of course, it’s a whole different beverage, but they’re a fifth generation, as well. Their a fourth and fifth. And, what they’ve told me is, when the fourth generation distills a batch, and then the fifth generation distills a batch, they say that they can tell the difference between one hand of the maker, and the other. Even though the recipe is the same. Are you involved in the distillation? Do you supervise that, have you done that on your own yourself?

Alan: Yeah, yeah. I’ve been in every step. Although, currently I’m not really involved. I do not get my hands on on the process, but I supervise it.

Mike: Okay.

Alan: So, yeah. Even at very technical details, me and my dad may differ, and we may actually argue about it. It may actually get pretty bad, ’cause you know how generations are, I think my stuff, he thinks his stuff.

Mike: Sure. [chuckle]

Alan: We still manage to get it all packaged. We try to get an element of every part of the discussion, and try to get the best out of each of the sides that we’d debate about. So, I can totally agree how that can happen. A fifth generation noticing that, even at the distillation process only, there can be a different from the fifth to the fourth.

Mike: Yeah.

Alan: Even despite the agave changes, ’cause it always fluctuates. It always tasted a little different, like every plant is still a different person.

Mike: Right. So, it is kind of interesting that you can actually taste the nuances, the differences between a batch that you supervise versus one that Felipe produces. Now, you’re a very young generation, and because you’re a DJ, you’re out in the public a lot, you’re a producer, you do a lot of that stuff, where do you see your generation headed for, when it comes to handcrafted tequila? Tequila quality, like G4, what are your observations in your generation, in your market, your generation your segment?

Alan: My observations, well, they may be a little crude, ’cause well, I see that first hand, but I…

Mike: Hey, yeah, yeah. Well, you’re in the trenches, you’re right there.

Alan: Yeah. The thing is, I don’t really see much of the interest in my generation like regarding tequila, even around the States. There’s so few of us that actually get our hands on it, or even talk about it, like discuss what tequila is about, around my circles and like the people that I know that produce tequila even though I don’t really talk with them that often…

Mike: Right.

Alan: Is that we are very deep in the cave, there is no spotlight down in the cave, it’s just like a endless debate about what’s going on. But, there really is not much of the public interest from Jalisco, regarding what is good about the tequila. There is more of an interest from people that can relate at a spirits level, you know, other people that also make their own distillates, there’s a lot more discussion that is, I would say, wholesome, from that aspect, people from all around the world that they make their own spirit, we can actually get it more in-depth and talk about stuff that we think we feel is much more important. ‘Cause, at a consumer level, a lot of it gets involved like in the marketing, you know?

Mike: Right.

Alan: How many flowers they put in the image of it.

Mike: Right.

Alan: And, all that kind of stuff. When you talk about like the technicals, you can actually get people bored about it, ’cause you’re talking about it in a different language, you know?

[chuckle]

Mike: Yeah, it is, and I can honestly tell you I’m one of those people, whereas, there are people in our circle, like for instance, one of our tasters, Rick Levy, is so into the science and the distillation and the degrees, and to me, ’cause I never took chemistry in high school, it wasn’t a requirement for the high school I was in. So, the chemistry part of it, loses me. For me there’s… And I guess, this is probably the way it is with most people, there are certain aspects of the process that are more interesting to me. For instance, for me, it’s fermentation. I love talking about the fermentation and listening to other people talk about fermentation because to me, that’s where the magic happens.

Alan: Yeah, yeah, I agree, I agree.

Mike: You know…

Alan: I agree, specifically, because we do, we take a long race when it comes to fermentation. We don’t like rushing things up, we don’t want it like as fast as 24-hour fermentation; we would rather wait like five days, and we still use the same strain that my grandfather used to use. So, we do date back to those things, but we also appreciate that there is some subjective value in that. A lot of people, they may not be so much about sustainability; however, there is still a lot of passioning to the crafting of it.

Mike: Right.

Alan: Like, the entire process, even though it may be super rudimentary, sometimes that is what you want, you know? Somebody is willing to pay top buck for something that is like handcrafted at a very difficult level, despite all the challenges that it involved. So, it can be perceived as something entirely different. You’re not just talking about the quality of a product you’re talking about more qualities that we’re involved in making that product that more than just the juice at the end.

Mike: Right. You know there’s lots of aspects that go into a recipe. It really literally is like cooking a souffle, if you mess it up, it’s gonna fall, so you don’t want it… And, in the case of tequila and distillates in general, you mess it up and it’s gonna cost you an arm and a leg.

Alan: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. It will. I mean, there’s always a little bit of a gamble, I mean. [chuckle] I’m sorry, I was thinking about quoting someone, but I don’t think it’s appropriate. Let’s just let it slide.

Mike: Okay.

Alan: There’s a lot of risk when you’re putting articular in a barrel for instance.

Mike: Yes.

Alan: ‘Cause you don’t know where the barrel’s been and you don’t know what kind of life the tree had and how rich it can be in its aromas, and what property you actually asked to the product that you want. So I feel like the consumer and the producer are both in the same race towards finding something that is very special ’cause the consumer may actually acknowledge that one of the products is special before we actually do it, ’cause we’re just making it. By the time it gets out there, we’ll… Sometimes you don’t get to pick, you know, the barrel was always there, you’re not gonna throw that away.

Mike: Right.

Alan: So I feel like when the producer finds out that is special, that they will definitely be like, “Yeah, I’m gonna hold this for myself.” They don’t really wanna give it away that easily, and I feel like it’s the same for the consumer. Sometimes they find something and it’s so bad, they just wanna burn it down.

Mike: Yeah, yeah, yeah. There’s no saving, there’s no saving it not even in a margarita or in a mix. They just… You wanna just dump it. So when getting back to your generational thing, for me, it’s interesting to me, because marketers… I see things from two different aspects, and I always have. One is from the consumer point of view, the average guy that goes to the liquor store. And then from the marketing aspect of it where the spin happens, and I’ve always felt that our job was to help our followers, our consumers, our readers to see beyond the marketing so that they don’t take that as gospel.

Alan: No, and I agree, I agree that we should find a way to make people appreciate things that are transparent.

Mike: Yeah.

Alan: Instead of having them pay for something that is so flashy and so easy to sell because of a back story that is entirely made up.

Mike: Oh, yeah.

Alan: But it can happen. I mean…

Mike: It’s happened lots of times throughout history.

Alan: I feel like it can be… I’m not trying to say that it’s acceptable, but it can be acceptable if you’re looking at it from a totally different angle. Maybe it’s a designer thing. Maybe the one responsible for putting the money and putting the product out there was thinking… Had a completely different vision that it wasn’t really that important for it to have that thing inside. It was more about everything that surrounded it like when they try to sell you the lifestyle which might be something that people would want like, “Ey, this thing is growing to something bigger, it’s starting to grow into festivals,” and this and that. That can actually happen, and I’m not really against that, but I try to sell my product as transparent as possible, not try to put all the covers in that, trying to sell what’s inside. So that’s what I sell, but all other people can sell other things.

Mike: Well, I love that this has the back story is you guys, you and your brother. For anybody who was with us last year, your… Felipe, your father, was with us at El Cholo in Pasadena, and I gotta tell you, he was a big hit, everybody wanted to spend time with him and have him sign their bottles and he’s a rock star.

Alan: Yeah, he tends to have that effect on people. [chuckle]

Mike: Yeah, yeah, he’s… And it was really wonderful because I had a chance to speak to him while we were setting up, and I didn’t even have a shirt on, because it was one of the warm days, it wasn’t… Not like this past year, but the year before was very warm. It was… The Dodgers were in the World Series. It was a big deal. And I’m standing there, helping set up, and I didn’t have my regular shirt on. So when he showed up, he showed up early and we started talking and the next thing I know there were people being let in, you know, we had spent like 40 minutes talking to each other. And it was just, to me, fascinating because I’d met Carlos before and I’d known Carlos for a while, but Felipe was kind of an enigma to me anyway. I know a lot of folks, a lot of the tequila circles that tend to gravitate toward these rock stars had already met him, but I’d never. And some of them have met you, and this is our first time speaking with each other. So, to me, it’s fascinating because you’re, like it or not, you’re the next generation of tequila.

Mike: What I wanted to find out was, you say that your generation, right now as where you’re standing, isn’t as enamored with what’s inside the bottle, so much as maybe an older generations, is that right? Am I reading this correctly?

Alan: Yes and… Well, I feel like it’s become a little difficult to even pursue as… Like, from an advertiser point of view, to try to sell them stuff, because people are very cynical nowadays. They are always thinking you are trying to sell them something before they actually hear the back end of it. But, at the same time, they’re always vulnerable to being bombarded with countless ads.

Mike: Yes. Yes, well there are some tequila producers out there, the big names, they spend more money on measured media, on measured advertising, than they do making their juice.

Alan: Yeah, and it happens. [laughter]

Mike: Yeah. And, it’s amazing to me. If you would take part of that marketing budget and maybe reinvest it in the community, or do something… Now, the reason I keep harping about your generation, is because of the millennial generation, every marketer in the world wants to market to millennials and the generation that is coming in after them. So, I just wanted to see what your point of view was, because everybody is trying to figure out that millennial marketing keys.

Alan: Like, how to sell it to a millennial? [laughter]

Mike: Yeah, exactly. Because, what’s important to me, and of course everybody’s different, what’s important to me was the handcrafting, and of course, the sustainability. And I am not talking about over-producing, ’cause I know you are all agave growers, as well.

Alan: Yeah. Over-processing, mostly.

Mike: Over-processing. Having to buy now, a mess, but also not over-producing and trying to… Some of the key points of millennials, is that they are more important in a story, they are interested in a story, they were interested in sustainability, and what you do for the environment. They wanna know that what they’re supporting is not only good for them and good to share with friends, but also that they’re not hurting anybody.

Alan: Yeah, well in that sense… I’d also like to clarify, I feel like the American market, and the Mexican market, can have very, very distinct points of view, when it comes down to it. When it boils down to what really matters to them. I feel like both Americans and Mexicans like to feel themselves involved in the story. They wanna be part of the story, and that’s what really can sell it to somebody else like, “Okay tell them, okay, you matter.” “Why?” “Because, you’re here, because this is the proof that you are here with us, that you are making this grow, and if it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be here.” That’s some of the stuff that we take very seriously. We try to make it as organic as possible, in the sense that, we’d rather have 10 loyal followers, than having 10 million followers that we can not even like reply to, who don’t know what they’re a fan of, and they don’t take the time to respond. And…

[overlapping conversation]

Mike: So, do you get a lot of fan mail?

Alan: Well, mostly work-related, regarding orders, and all that kind of stuff. And actually getting messages across to my father, ’cause sometimes… My Dad gets really, really deep into the fog of working and keeping his hands busy. So, if he’s not super busy, he’s actually trying to get away from the noise, ’cause he is always getting those messages. And sometimes it’s hard for us even to get them across to him, so that he can make a decision when it comes down to something that only he can decide.

Mike: Wow. Having met him, and like I say, it was only a brief moment and of most of the evening, although it was monopolized by a lot of the guests who had come in to meet him. He seems to be a very… His mind is always cranking, you know what I mean? It’s like he’s always thinking, and he can’t sit still. Is that the way he is?

Alan: Yeah, he is a running engine, and he doesn’t have many gears. He just goes, and that’s it.

[laughter]

Mike: Oh my gosh.

Alan: I’m sorry, Dad, if this offends you, but it’s true.

Mike: No, no. That’s really… I think it’s a great analogy, that he’s so focused, that he just wants to go forward. Tell me some of the challenges that, since you’ve been involved in the family business, that you have come up against and overcome. Are there challenges unique to you and your brother, that you guys had anticipate? Or, is this all pretty much everybody is in the same boat?

Alan: I’d like to say that everybody, including everyone in my generation, is involved in the same boat. The media doesn’t work the same way it worked 10 years ago. So right now, we’ve been, me living in a small town, where there’s not that quality internet that can be available in, I don’t know, Guadalajara, for instance.

Mike: Right.

Alan: You do learn to live with some type of austerity, which is media austerity. You don’t get bombarded by all that media, because you’re not even the target. So, when it comes to that, you also learn that you need to keep your relationships more personal, more like face-to-face, because over the net, nobody feels that they’re involved in anything. Just by posting things on Facebook, nobody actually feels like they relate to you, in any sense. So, it has had to do with, well, making our own trials, and finding our own errors. Like, try not to make the same mistakes again, in terms of how we get out there, and play it safe, in a way. Because, we’re not really gambling on a large budget, regarding the advertising. Our budget, we actually spend on the product. Everything that we do is, we try to make more of the same product, try to make it equal or better quality. Nothing less. My dad has always had that philosophy where, if you need to sacrifice the quality just to make more liters, then that’s a dead zone. You don’t go in there. And we, me and my brother, we both believe in that.

Mike: Excellent, excellent. So, that’s good. Are you guys ready to take over one day?

[chuckle]

Alan: Well, I don’t feel like I’m ready, because I’ve… Well, you know, it’s family struggles, you know? But I guess, when it comes, I’ll just know what to do, except you can never expect it, you don’t feel like it’s gonna happen next week. If I knew that it was gonna happen at some point, then I would look forward to it and I would start building up to that point, but since I really don’t well, I’ll just live day by day.

[chuckle]

Mike: So when… I know that Shawn and Jeff who are the importers of G4, they’ve had you out to do tastings, is that correct? Have you done a couple?

Alan: Yeah. Yeah, tastings, and to talk about the process. We are usually very forward when it comes to what we’re selling, to talk about the process, or how we do it.

Mike: So, what do you find is the common question from the American public, when you do these appearances?

Alan: Well, I don’t know, I tend to just take over the mic, because a lot of people don’t really know what to ask. And, I’ve seen a lot of people presenting, and they never have the angle that we have, and we are pretty straightforward. We’re not very… We’re not political, we don’t go around the bush. We’d rather say it like, “Cut the crap and let’s talk about the real thing.” And, overall, I feel like it’s been evolving with me, as I’ve been growing with the process. It’s like, at first, the first thing that I acknowledge is that we are doing things the way that they should be done, nothing special. It is the way that has existed since my grandfather, since my great-grandfather, and since even before probably. The only difference that we see from our brand, and a lot of other different brands, is that we are just trying to sell you that. We are not making a super fancy bottle, we are not expending ourselves in a super difficult cork that… We do try to go around those challenges, because we find no passion in having a nice cork.

Mike: Yeah, no, I agree with you. I think, it’s interesting to see the change in the logo and the look of each of the three brands that are coming, and you’re gonna have another brand coming out of El Pandillo, shortly.

Alan: Yeah, yeah, that is right.

Mike: What’s that process like? Because, I’m sure that you guys vet… First of all, I’m sure you guys get pounded by people that want you to make their tequila, right?

[chuckle]

Alan: Yeah, right, it happens so often.

Mike: It happens. So, it must take you a lot for you to say, “You know what, I agree with you. Yeah, we’ll work with you.” What is that process like? Because you must say no more often than yes.

Alan: Well, it does take time. It is a little time-consuming, because well, first off, you don’t wanna offend anyone that tries to work with you, that’s for starters. And second is, a lot of people don’t really have a notion of how much money it takes to make a brand, and also, how much we would be giving away by putting our liters in somebody else’s bottle.

Mike: Oh yeah, yeah.

Alan: So, for the long term, we are business people. If we can both come to an agreement where we both, where we both find the benefit, and I mean true benefit, not just numbers. Because when you talk about the numbers, it’s really easy to just focus on what makes you a profit, and you overlook the fact that… Well, here in Mexico, working with a brand, and actually it involves a lot of coming and going, and seeing a lot of legal fees, and discussing issues that, usually people that want us to make their brand, they’re not really willing to make that process themselves. They want us to do their, like their homework. So, it involves costs that are non-monetary, it’s more about the willingness of us to actually pursue that for them, and there can be a lot of misunderstandings. So, I believe that we are open people to negotiating, but it has to be both ends. And, I feel like it is the same for everybody. As long as they can find a win-win situation, they wouldn’t say no.

Mike: Well, there’s a lot to be said about maquiladoras, that have many successful brands that come out of there. But, El Pandillo is very… And, the Camarena name, has a cache that’s different, and so, it’s attractive, I’m sure. But, as I said, you guys probably wind up saying no to a lot more people, than you actually say yes to. So, what I find fascinating, is the fact that each of the three brands are being imported by three different companies. Who decides what one bottle will look like versus the other? Because the Terralta bottle, of course, is just the reverse of this one. With, of course, a different look and different graphics. And then, Pasote is completely out of left field.

Alan: Well, for Pasote, we’re not involved in design, which I love, I really love the design that they came up with for Pasote. Well, the G4 has its own story; we had been working with designers for a while, but at some point it became a little troublesome, because we weren’t landing any of the ideas. We were just like drawing with a lot of concepts, and we wanted to make a label that was elegant, not necessarily expensive, just elegant. Like, just classy, keep it classy, keep simple, not too expensive, and there you go. That’s what we came up with. But, we actually ended up we actually ended up outsourcing to more designers in order to get that done, from the pieces that the previous designer gave us, and he never actually gave us the full label. So, that that was our labor to just finish it up, in a way.

Mike: Wow.

Alan: Well, for Terralta, we worked with a different designer, and while we took some of the options, in a sense, the Terralta is a lot more minimalistic. It is stripped down from more of the flashy elements, and it just comes down to the clarity of the bottle. Since we already had our own bottle, which involves having a very large lot of bottles made, for it to be cost effective, it already saved us a step. So, we only played with the bottle, and we flipped it around, we added that label, and that’s how you get the Terralta.

Mike: Yeah. It’s the coolest thing. Now, what, who… Terralta that has six different expressions.

Alan: Yes, that’s right.

Mike: Do you see adding maybe two more expressions into G4?

Alan: I feel like it is being demanded, and I don’t even know why we haven’t done it before. But, that is definitely upcoming.

Mike: Here’s my question, is it gonna taste similar to Terralta?

Alan: No, no. Like…

Mike: Okay. So, in other words, your barrel strength in your 110 of G4, there are samples of those somewhere in your home in your lab, and you already have those and you know that they already tasted different, they taste more in line with the G4.

Alan: Yeah. Yeah, they don’t taste like Terralta.

Mike: Really, okay.

Alan: There’s a few steps that affect the taste. A lot of people may differ on which one is better, whether it’s the Terralta or the G4. I personally love the Terralta, because I’m a punk head, you know?

Mike: Yeah, I know.

Mike: I think we’re back, man. There we go.

Alan: Yeah, I had some problems, my phone ran out of battery in the middle of the conversation.

Mike: I know. So, you were saying you’re a punk, so you like the Terralta.

Alan: I like the Terralta…

Mike: Is that because it’s at a higher ABV, or what?

Alan: No, not related with the higher ABV. I actually like the lower proof because you get more of a water character in there.

Mike: Oh, no kidding? Okay.

Alan: Well, people that have tried tequila for a long time, well, they’re used to having some sort of flavor profile that they’re looking for, right? So, when it comes to Terralta, you get to notice that there is another note that just gets in there, that adds this noise, this dirty noise, it is like having a good tasting stone, like…

Mike: Yes. Yeah.

[overlapping conversation]

Alan: Terralta falls in there.

Mike: It’s the minerality, right? That you…

Alan: Yeah.

Mike: See, I enjoy that. I personally like that a lot. And, I guess you run across a lot of people who have different preferences with all three of the brands.

Alan: Yeah, as for the purists, you cannot really tell them that which one’s better than which one.

Mike: No.

Alan: It really has to do with what you’re looking for, what you’re expecting. And, in that sense, it’s like, I would be wrong to say, “Well, no. Terralta is better. I just like it better”. I don’t know, I’m young and as I said, I’m more of a punk.

[laughter]

Alan: I don’t like stuff that’s just cookie cutter formulas.

Mike: Right. Yeah. You like you your tequilas to have character.

Alan: Yeah, exactly.

Mike: So, you prefer tequilas at a lower ABV, you don’t enjoy the higher proof ones, or?

Alan: This would only be in the case of the Terralta. Of course, I prefer the higher proof G4. Because, well, you get that character, that’s emphasized, it becomes so much stronger. Whereas, in the Terralta, when you don’t water it down as much, you don’t get that much from the water. So since that is the character Terralta, I prefer the 40, although, I can obviously drink the higher proof, although I feel like it sits somewhere in between, ’cause now there is more of the G4 character in there.

Mike: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, is it true that Felipe, and maybe yourself involved, that when you seek barrels for aging, you’re looking for the oldest barrels around, is that correct? That’s the story we’ve been fed.

Alan: Yeah. It feels a little overly stated, but it is true. We don’t like the barrels that are young. Well, that have only been used maybe, once or twice.

Mike: Mm-hmm.

Alan: We like the barrels a bit aged, a bit seasoned, because then you can actually appreciate more of the agave character in a tequila once it ages. Because my father doesn’t like the profile of it being too similar to a whiskey. He doesn’t want it to feel that aged, so he just lets the tequila in the barrel, and as long as it remains in the barrel, that’s what we put on the label. Is it ripe or old? And then we don’t really specify in the label, how many months it’s been aged.

Mike: Right, right.

Alan: But yeah, it can also vary, ’cause we also do the tasting and the profiling, because in the end, you end up blending a bunch of barrels together, just get one consistent lot. Otherwise, it is more expensive to have a single barrel, because you need to certify each barrel, you need to get it approved, and once it gets approved, you need to pass it through the solid removing filters. Well, there’s some of that tequila that’s gonna get stuck in that filter, so you lose at least two, three liters per batch.

Mike: Oh, wow.

Alan: So, everytime you do a batch and you try to do it with a single barrel, there’s gonna be that added cost. It’s not too much, but the more dramatic cost that is being added for the certification, because each barrel that you try to release a single barrel you pay a flat fee for it to get approved.

Mike: Right, wow. So, yeah. This is all… It really is all about, not so much cutting corners, but making it cost effective for you, and of course, down the road the consumer, as well.

Alan: Yeah, of course. Because, the consumer really doesn’t want the prices to be out of hand. They want to be able to afford it. So, they will always ask, “Why is this more expensive than that?” There’s that reason, and also, the reason might be the scarcity. Because it’s not the same to blend a barrel with another barrel and expect to make it somehow sit in the average of both. Sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. Sometimes it’s more like a dysfunctional family, everyone’s yelling. [laughter] It happens like that. It is also a gamble, which barrels you wanna blend with which. ‘Cause it’s not that intuitive. At first, I thought it would be like that, but then I came to, what I would say, a strange idea, of trying to blend an extra Anejo with a Blanco. I tasted both separately, and then I tasted the mixture of both together, and it literally blew my mind. Because it accentuated some of the character in the extra, and also some of the character in the Blanco. So, it wasn’t like an average of what it was, it’s not like a de-aged tequila; it’s more of a mixture of two different things. So, when you blend them, you have to experiment with it. It’s very empirical, it’s nothing that you have theory.

Mike: Would you consider that then a G4 Joven?

Alan: Yeah, that would be a Joven.

Mike: Are we gonna see a G4 Joven one day, maybe?

Alan: I don’t think so. I think we’re gonna see the Blanco, and we’re gonna see the extra, and people may start to try that out. But, for us to want to make a Joven, it becomes like a… I don’t know.

Mike: Is it too gimmicky?

Alan: Gimmicky, and it also seems like a strange idea to want to blend two things that are perfectly fine. ‘Cause then, how would you price it? It would be crazy. You would also have to average out the price point of that thing. I think it’s possible, maybe it can be a thing. But, I would also like, for the short term, would have to discuss this with my father.

Mike: Of course. Of course.

Alan: When I get my hands on the decision, then I will have to check my bank account, and see how I’m doing.

[laughter]

Mike: Oh my gosh. So, here’s another question and another example, what do you think of the new Cristalino Anejos?

Alan: I think we’ve had the discussion over and over.

[laughter]

Mike: Because… The reason I ask of course, it’s becoming a thing. It’s a category, whether we like it or not. And because you age you’re tequilas in some of the older barrels, what would… I asked this of another master distiller that we interviewed not too long ago, I said, “Why? You’ve taken all this labor to age something beautifully, and then you’re gonna take it and strip it.” But, what he told me was, “Ultimately you are working for a customer, and if this is what the customer wants, then we’re going to try to perfect a version that would be favorable.”

Alan: It’s a fair product, however, it is not what… We’ve been going around it in the forums, and almost consensually it is not a product for somebody who is very passionate about the tequila process, it’s more about having a fancy product on your table. Because it is more expensive to make, and it doesn’t reach at that much other than the image of what it is. As far as I know, it could have been better before, it just looks a little nicer. ‘Cause now you get with this renewed image. It’s more of a designer thing. And if you like paying for designer stuff, then be my guest. But if you just want the thing and wanna pay the fair price just go for the extras, or go for the Anejos.

Mike: Yeah, yeah.

Alan: That would be my recommendation.

Mike: I totally agree with you. It’s just interesting for me to ask different people in the industry, especially those who are producing tequilas, not only for themselves, but for other customers, and to see where that category is fitting in right now. Before I let you go, we’ve spent some wonderful time with you, Alan, thank you so much. If there’s one thing that you want people to know about G4, or about El Pandillo, in general, what would it be? If you had like one thing that you wanted to tell people about about it, what would you say?

Alan: Well, one thing that I would like to say for everyone to hear is, our money is not being put in the advertising. So, yeah, you may not fall in love with the image of it, but just taste it and tell us what you think. So far, where we’re confident with that. The response has been mostly positive. People do think that it is worth it, that the things that we’re doing and the things that we’re omitting. ‘Cause, otherwise if we were to invest that much into the advertising you would see that reflected on the price of the bottle as well. ‘Cause, that’s how things happen.

Mike: Yeah. No, I totally agree with you. I love… You know, your father, Felipe, has been known as the mad scientist, because of the profiles, and the whole distillery in general. People can go online and they can visit El Pandillo.

Alan: That’s also very flattering, although, it actually came from people literally calling my dad, “Crazy guy.” ‘Cause he had all these ideas that nobody would implement, ’cause they wouldn’t take the risk of doing that. My father just talked them out. And he’s like, “Hey this is viable, let’s just do it.” And now, we’ve got Frankenstein, which is the Tahona that crushes the agave. Now we’ve got Igor, which is the thing that…

Mike: The Shredder?

Alan: Yeah, the shredder exactly. And, so these pieces didn’t exist, but now I’m seeing prototypes of new things that are based on that. I just saw another Tahona, I saw my first Tahona, that is based on Frankenstein.

Mike: Oh, really?

Alan: Yeah, I saw it first-hand, about two or three miles away from here. They were building it. The same guy that built it for us. So I’m excited to see that happen, and I feel like we’ve definitely built the road for others to walk through in terms of how they can process their own tequila in ways that are more creative, so to speak.

Mike: Well, I think that’s outstanding. I love… Please give your dad a big hug for me, and for you and your brother. I’m so glad that we had this time to kick around some ideas. And you took the time. And I know we’ve had some technical difficulties on both ends. But it turned out great, thanks again for being with us here on Open Bar. I’m Mike…

Alan: Thank you, thank you. It’s an honor for me to be here finally. I’ve been following your interviews in the past. So, yeah, for me to be here… I feel like it was my turn to be in the spotlight.

Mike: Yeah, it’s your turn to jump in the barrel. [laughter]

Alan: My time to jump in the barrel, for sure. [chuckle]

Mike: Yeah, man. Hey, thanks again for spending the time with us and please give my best you to your dad, Felipe, and your brother. And hopefully on our next trip out there, we’ll be able to swing by and see you guys if you happen to be in town, or maybe you’ll come up to Texas here to the San Antonio where I live.

Alan: Yeah, yeah. I’m down. I was there recently, but…

Mike: Yeah, you were, we were in California.

Alan: Our schedule was tight. We just went there. We made a couple of talks about it and then we’re back. I’m eager to come back, we’re not that far away. Just take a flight, go check it out.

Mike: Build bridges, instead of walls, pal. That’s what I care about. Thanks again for being with us on Open Bar. Thank you again for putting up with our technical difficulties. And again, have yourself a great rest of your afternoon, I appreciate the time, and as soon as this is up we’ll let everybody know. Okay? So, thanks again. Thank you, Alan, I appreciate it.

Alan: Have a nice day, Mike.

Mike: You too man, take care.

[chuckle]

Mike: Bye bye.

# End #

Terralta Tequila and Creo Spirits: Behind the Scenes

[*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.]

The Lay of the Land

The need for small-to-medium sized distributors in every state will become even more important in 2018 to ensure that worthy agave spirit Brands of Promise are not lost in the conglomerate shuffle.

Sensing this demand long before the current trend of mega-mergers, Enrique Ramos, established Creo Commercium Inc (Creo Spirits) in Phoenix, Arizona in 2008.

His current portfolio is stocked with an array of agave spirits, as well Mexican wines and craft beers that are not readily available except at select establishments such as Elvira’s Tequila Cocina & Vino in Tucson.

Hedging Bets

It’s a good bet that that was one of the main reasons Ingeniero Felipe Camarena Curiel, innovator of such remarkably acclaimed and diverse tequilas as Pasote, G4 and Terralta, chose Creo Spirits as his importer and distributor of Terralta in the highly competitive state of Arizona.

Spending countless hours with the man known as “The Mad Genius” of tequila at his state-of-art El Pandillo distillery, Enrique possesses a unique perspective on Felipe Camarena that few folks get the chance to experience.

We caught up with Enrique during the Wild Wild West 2017 Tour at his base of operations in Phoenix.

Here, Ramos divulges the “little things” that Felipe does to add to Terralta’s flavorful profile.

It All Happened by Mistake

Enrique reveals how Felipe Camarena and he established their relationship, and where Terralta is currently available.  He also expresses his views on who chooses to sip Terralta and how these individuals re-calibrate their taste buds through successive tastings.

Personal History

Enrique Ramos, who shares a direct lineage to Pancho Villa, reveals how he got into the business of spirits importation, and what it takes to succeed.

Customer-centric 

Enrique Ramos admits that his greatest allies in the importation/distribution business are his own customers.  And, in the process of taking care of them to best of his abilities, they in turn take care of him.

It’s this kind of customer-centric attitude and attention to detail that will ensure Creo Spirits’–and Terralta’s–success in the long running battle for shelf space.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57qNow that the first quarter of 2017 is in the books and we are well into spring and summer margarita season, here’s what were noticing at Tequila Aficionado Media Headquarters.

The Hits Just Keep on Coming!

As we pointed out in The Agave Shortage of 2017 Is Worse Than We Thought, we are smack in the middle of a shortage with no end in sight.

Yet, here at HQ, since January 2017, we’ve solicited, and been solicited by, no less than 50 brands of tequila, mezcal and sotol for our widely viewed Sipping Off the Cuff© series.

Some are labels that have been around for awhile, or re-launched with extended expressions to their core lines, and presumably, flush with cash from investors (we’ll circle back to this subject a bit later).

But, most are start ups in the agave spirits arena.

At press time, agave prices have skyrocketed from 1.7 Mexican pesos ($0.089) per kilo in 2013 to 10 pesos at the end of 2016, according to this recent article in Barron’s.

Our own sources claim that agave prices in May 2017 have hit a high of 14 pesos per kilo.  During the crisis of the late 1990s, agave prices reached an unprecedented 18 pesos per kilo!Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

The price hike has even taken a bite out of Jose Cuervo’s profits.  They more than made up for it, though, with their successful IPO this past February.

You may ask, “Don’t these new brands know we’re in the midst of another agave crisis?”

Bear in mind that many of these labels have been in the works for at least 3 years or more, well before a shortage was predicted, and well before this happened…

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

The timing of an agave spirit’s launch is, more often than not, dependent on its financial forecasts.

If you’re one of these newcomers, just take a deep breath and jump in.

Don’t forget to send us samples, too!

The Resurgence of the Reposado

I once asked Christopher Zarus, the innovator of the world’s only take home tequila tasting kit, TequilaRack®, why he chose to showcase only small batch, micro-distilled reposados from esteemed tequila making families in his collections.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

He explained that a well made reposado was one of the most difficult tasks in creating a dynamic line of tequilas.  He felt that it could literally make or break a brand.

When rocker Roger Clyne first entered the market with Mexican Moonshine tequila, he insisted on doing so with a reposado, even though he admitted, “…at the time, this was considered commercial suicide.”

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

Traditionally acknowledged as the ideal half-way point between a brilliant blanco and an elegant anejo, the reposado, for at least the past few years, seemed to have been treated by some brands as an afterthought, at best.

Not so in 2017.

Check out the reposado episodes of this season’s Sipping Off The Cuff© to see what we mean.

Especially take note of:  Tequila 512, 4 Copas, Azunia, Amorada, Armero, El Consuelo, Pasote, Alderete and Don Pilar.

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers

Infused tequila is the new black.

But not just any infusions.

These are well crafted tequilas or agave spirits, sometimes laced with exotic spices, and simmering in off-the-charts heat from the Scoville scale.
Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

We first encountered this trend with 2016’s lively Brand Of Promise© Infused Tequila winner, Soltado.  A versatile and balanced anejo injected with Serrano peppers and cinnamon, it blew taste buds away.

With the popularity of pepper infused spirits like Fireball Whisky, and subsequent copycats, it seems only natural that agave spirits companies take notice.

Of the upcoming crop of pepper saturated agave is…

Spider Monkey Agave Spirit (Serrano pepper and ginger); Get Hot Tequila, a reposado imbued with Habanero peppers; and, speaking of Fireball, the man responsible for its immense popularity, Richard Alexander Pomes, presents Ghost Tequila, enlivened by the infamous, India-born ghost pepper.

Just remember that when you’re basking in the endorphins from having your salsa and drinking it, too, that the addition of alcohol on your tongue reactivates the oils inherent in the pepper’s capsaicin.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

It’s like Groundhog Day for your palate!

Millennials are Stealing Your Cocktail Recipes

Cocktail recipe photos are hugely popular on just about any social media platform that they are shared on.  The follower engagement is off the chain, in particular with Millennials.

It’s a well known fact that the prevailing cocktail culture around the world is driving the Spirits Industry.  But, once these concoctions and their ingredients are made public, they are being pilfered by these young people and served to friends and family at their cribs.

It’s apparent that Millennials seek to drink better than their older relatives.  Given that, signature cocktails are still a valuable commodity to agave spirits brands, but not necessarily for bars and restaurants.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

So, you mixologists—carry on.

Millennials are stealing your cocktail recipes!

Tequila has Outgrown Riedel Glassware

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57qIt’s official…

Tequila–and most all agave spirits, for that matter–has outgrown the Riedel Ouverture tequila tasting glass.

Don’t get us wrong.  It’s still a viable tool.  But…

The level of quality craft agave spirits flooding liquor store shelves, and the emphasis on single estate and organic tequilas and mezcals, now demands a better sipping glass in order to enjoy their unique, regional properties.

This fact had not been lost to oak heads.

For several years, whisky and scotch drinkers had opted to use the Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57qGlencairn glasses to not only enjoy anejos and extra anejos, but blancos and reposados, as well.

It can also be argued that the use of inadequate tasting and nosing glasses in the past few years has influenced–and possibly skewed–the results for valuable medals awarded by some of the most respected tasting competitions around the country.  So much so, that the judges’ final decisions are laughable.

To that end, we’re excited to be working with Romeo Hristov, proprietor of Chisholm Trail Craft Glassware, testing glasses produced by Stolzle, Luigi Bormioli, and his own more historically accurate vessel prototypes for tequila and mezcal.

You’ll be seeing a lot of these new glasses throughout the 2017 season of Sipping Off The Cuff©.

Watch for a future Open Bar where we’ll visit with Mr. Hristov, in depth.

Tequila Brands:  It’s a Buyer’s Market Out There

Earlier, we hinted about some dormant tequila brands that have suddenly been revived by wads of money.

It seems that every other day, family-run investment firms contact us at HQ looking for hot tips on where to park their cash that’s burning holes into their conservative, yet very deep, pockets.

We were also recently offered a fee by a well known celebrity to taste test the newest version of his tequila, versus the Usual Suspects.  We gracefully declined.

But it got us thinking.  Whether you’re a megastar or a moneybags…

Why go through all the trouble of launching, or relaunching, a tequila from scratch when there are so many labels out there for sale?

As predicted by Patrón tequila’s Chief Marketing Officer, Lee Applbaum in this  article, the Great Agave Shakeout has begun.

The road to Tequila Nirvana is currently littered with brands that could not sustain the required 5 year threshold of longevity, let alone a 10 year marketing plan.

Many have withered away consumed by mismanagement, overwhelm, lack of distribution support, or simply investment underestimation.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

Instead of going through all the trouble of conceptualizing and heavily funding a whole new agave spirits marque with a least a dozen other investors, why not take a page from Jim Driscoll, owner of Ekeko Wines and Spirits, and importer of Demetrio tequila?

Seek a distressed brand that had something going for it, and that you can make better.

You may find, after some thorough due diligence, that before hitting the skids the brand showed considerable promise and can be purchased—lock, stock, and barrels—for a song.

Or, you may discover that the concept for the juice was designed exclusively for the international Duty Free market, completely escaping the drudgery of the Three Tier System.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

The road to the Kingdom of Agave Heaven won’t be any easier, but at least some of the requisite start up costs could be minimized.

Warning:  The Quality of Your Mass Produced Tequila is about to get Worse

Word on the streets of the Highlands of Jalisco is that the Big Boys have bought up all the 3 year old agave in the region.  Younger plants simply do not contain the minimum amount of agave sugars (measured in brix) required by the normas to make tequila.

As soon as 2 year old agaves turn 3, they are sure to be snatched up by coyotes (agave middlemen).

Coyotes for the Usual Suspects are desperately seeking magueys from reputable growers who are now sitting in the catbird seat, ready to hike agave prices even further.

Those boutique agaveros who are holding 4 and 5 year old plants are poised to make a killing in the agave market in the following few months and years.

Meanwhile, back at The Lab…

Analyzed samples of these mass produced tequilas are being rejected because they reportedly contain too little alcohol from blue weber agave, and too much from added sugars.

Tequila Trends in the First Half of 2017 https://wp.me/p3u1xi-57q

Watch for increased use of diffuser technology to extract maximum agave juices and sugars in order to fulfill worldwide demand, and—

Tequila quality to plummet.

Pasote Anejo Tequila Review

 

 

 

Aztecs were among the most loyal, ferocious fighters in history. Victories and sacrifices were celebrated by drinking the sacred agave plant. This pasote spirit lives on in our matchless Jalisco Highlands tequila. Distilled with pure rainwater, natural spring water and agave grown personally by our master tequilero, this liquid art is distinctively herbal and incredibly pure. From the guerreros who guard each bottle to the exacting effort put into its content, we are certain you will revel in our tribute to warriors everywhere.

One whiff confirms the luscious benefits of long aging in American oak. Soft aromas of roasted agave, clean vanilla and sweet coconut merge in a pleasing harmony.

The experience begins with a decadently rich mouthfeel that’s velvety smooth. Long barrel aging mellows the character of the roasted agave, bringing out hints of roasted oranges and spicy cinnamon for a finely nuanced complexity. The finish is long and warm, with depths of toasty sweet flavors. The luscious mouthfeel lingers on and on.

FTC Disclaimer: All samples are received free of charge but no payment is accepted by Tequila Aficionado or its agents for reviews. All reviews are the opinions of those participating in the tasting and positive reviews are never guaranteed.

Pasote Reposado Tequila Review

 

Sipping off the Cuff | Pasote Tequila Reposado http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4TGAztecs were among the most loyal, ferocious fighters in history. Victories and sacrificies were celebrated by drinking the sacred agave plant. This pasote spirit lives on in our matchless Jalisco Highlands tequila. Distilled with pure rainwater, natural spring water and agave grown personally by our master tequilero, this liquid art is distinctively herbal and incredibly pure. From the guerreros who guard each bottle to the exacting effort put into its content, we are certain you will revel in our tribute to warriors everywhere

Light golden in color, our agave tequila presents a rich, intriguing nose. The distinctive herbal aroma of roasted agave is delicately balanced with subtle notes of ripe coconut and sweet American oak.

Lusciously supple and warming, this agave tequila is rich with softly mellowed flavors, thanks to six months of barrel aging in American oak. The fruit-forward taste of roasted agave melds with fresh floral notes and subtle hints of sweet vanilla. The finish is very smooth and very long, lingering on sweet and clean–a taste to savor and anticipate in the next delectable sip.

FTC Disclaimer: All samples are received free of charge but no payment is accepted by Tequila Aficionado or its agents for reviews. All reviews are the opinions of those participating in the tasting and positive reviews are never guaranteed.

The Agave Shortage of 2017 Is Worse Than We Thought

We tried to pretend it didn’t already exist.

Articles on an impending agave shortage had been showing up since late 2015, but we thought safety precautions were in place.  The Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT) had it all handled.

Then, this happened…

The Agave Shortage of 2017 Is Worse Than We Thoughthttp://wp.me/p3u1xi-4DZ

Snow In Arandas

On March 10, 2016, Arandas, Jalisco, Mexico, considered part of the all-important Agave Golden Triangle of Tequila (Atotonilco, Tepatitlán, Arandas and Jesús María), woke up to this–

The Agave Shortage of 2017 Is Worse Than We Thoughthttp://wp.me/p3u1xi-4DZ

An anomaly that has occurred only twice in 100 years.

Beautiful, yes.

We couldn’t look away.

Then, fear stuck.

Would this weather phenomenon increase the odds of a real agave shortage?

Initial reports like this one from revered agavero and tequilero, Felipe Camarena Curiel (Pasote, ArteNOM 1579) on his Facebook page, made us breathe a sigh of relief.

“The conditions of 1997, [the last major agave shortage that shook the Tequila Industry] and the most recent one, were very different.

“In 1997, the low temperatures affected the entire state of Jalisco, reaching -17 C (1.4 F) in Los Altos for a considerable amount of time, freezing the shallow roots of 1-to-3 year old agave and provoking the anticipated maturing [flowering] of the surviving agave.

“The current [snowfall] affected some municipalities in Los Altos de Jalisco, but not the entire state.  The temperatures were not so low and they rapidly returned to normal.

“Of course, in very concentrated areas, there will be total losses.

“We’ll know the magnitude of the damage in the next few days, but in my personal opinion, in the long run, it [the loss; damage] won’t be as grave as that of 1997.”

The Agave Shortage of 2017 Is Worse Than We Thoughthttp://wp.me/p3u1xi-4DZ

[“Las condiciones de 1997 y las recientes fueron muy diferentes.

“En 1997 la temperatura baja afectó a todo el Estado de Jalisco, llegando en los Altos a -17°C por un tiempo considerable, congelando las raices poco profundas de los agaves de 1 a 3 años y provocando madurez anticipada de agave que sobrevivió.

“La actual afectó a algunos municipios de los Altos de Jalisco, no a todo el Estado.  Las temperaturas no fueron tan bajas y se recuperaron rápidamente.

“Por supuesto en áreas muy focalizadas habrá pérdidas totales.

“La magnitud del daño lo sabremos en los próximos dias pero mi opinión personal es que el daño no será ni lejos tan grave como en 1997.”]

Not everyone in the Camarena family was so cautiously optimistic.

In this blog post from the UK, Carlos Camarena, Felipe’s brother and master distiller of Tapatío tequila, warned a roomful of British bartenders, “…buy up tequila now as in 3 to 5 years there will be a worldwide tequila shortage.”

Blame Global Warming

In a thought provoking post by Clayton Szczech via his website, he firmly attributes the weather aberration to global warming.The Agave Shortage of 2017 Is Worse Than We Thoughthttp://wp.me/p3u1xi-4DZ

With accelerated climate change comes the uncertainty of once predictable annual weather patterns reported Alquimia Tequila’s owner and organic agavero, Dr. Adolfo Murillo, via its Facebook page.

“…we have been talking about [global warming] for some time now.  This is man’s effect on our Mother Earth.  Will our agaves survive?”

That Didn’t Take Long

By April 2016, articles like the one referenced above were reissued to drive home the possibility of an agave shortage, whether real or rigged.

By late June to early July 2016, confirmed reports reached this office of transnational corporations locking in major contracts with medium sized maquiladoras (distilleries that produce tequila for various other brands) to provide them with enormous quantities of tequila to be bottled under their labels.

By mid-August, confirmed reports reached us verifying that other distilleries were already hiking their prices to their clients in anticipation of, or in answer to, an increase in agave prices.

By late October 2016, other well known brands were feeling the squeeze of a spike in agave prices.

What We Know

Reliable sources tell us that estimates of agave losses are ranging in the millions of plants.

The Agave Shortage of 2017 Is Worse Than We Thoughthttp://wp.me/p3u1xi-4DZWhile initial reports stated the snowfall reached only 1-3 centimeters [.093 to 1.96 inches], there are now unsubstantiated claims of up to 8 inches of snow had actually fallen in many areas of the Los Altos region.

Unsubstantiated reports reached this office in mid-July 2016 of small agave farmers selling off up to 2 year old agaves before they completely rotted in the fields.

There are also unconfirmed reports of agricultural engineers recommending a scorched earth solution to these small farmers.

Hectares of agave fields are to be plowed under and burned due the danger of crops being infected by the dreaded snout-nosed weevil that prefer to lay their eggs inside weakened plants.

These same small farmers are reluctant to take such a heavy financial hit and would rather sell off what they can rather than destroy their rapidly wilting crops.

Due to the agave glut 7-8 years ago, many other growers stopped planting agave.  Now, because of the unexpected freeze, brokers (coyotes) are scrambling to meet demand.

At this writing, master agave growers are said to be demanding $3.00 per pound for their piñas–and getting it!

Don’t Hate the Game–Hate the Player

Who will survive?

As per usual, any pedigreed distillery with their own agave estates will ensure The Agave Shortage of 2017 Is Worse Than We Thoughthttp://wp.me/p3u1xi-4DZthat their flagship brands have plenty of plants and juice on hand.

Those maquiladoras that grow agave should also be able to ride out the storm.

Of course, the Big Boys, those transnational corporations with deep pockets, will also pull through, and even thrive.  As we mentioned above, they’ve been busy securing long term contracts since late spring and early summer 2016.

Those brands that are considered handcrafted, small batch, and micro-distilled tequilas should also prevail since the vast majority only produce enough for their own labels.

Virtually any master agave grower who tended his fields properly will prosper The Agave Shortage of 2017 Is Worse Than We Thoughthttp://wp.me/p3u1xi-4DZduring this looming crisis.

Who won’t?

Those short-term players with little or no experience who were only in it to make a quick buck.

But, this is a good thing, according to Patrón tequila’s Chief Marketing Officer, Lee Applbaum in this article.

Basically, Applebaum asserts, the shakeout of short-term growers will ensure that the market maintains plenty of quality juice while preventing the dilution of the ultra-premium category that Patrón covets so deeply.

Ante Up

The Agave Shortage of 2017 Is Worse Than We Thoughthttp://wp.me/p3u1xi-4DZ

So, what will drive tequila prices up?

Freezing snow?

The weevil?

Amateur agave growers?

A blue agave shortage?

All of the above.  The simple economics of supply and demand.

But, there’s a new scourge in Tequila Town, and this one is set to be a real thorn in the sides of the Big Boys.

They’re called…

Los Mieleros

Sources report that representatives of large pharmaceutical companies have courted well-respected agaveros for their brix-rich piñas to be used for inulin production, a projected $2.4 billion industry by 2024.

The Agave Shortage of 2017 Is Worse Than We Thoughthttp://wp.me/p3u1xi-4DZ

These same sources confirm that Los Mieleros have consistently and extravagantly outbid tequileros for their agave in just the past few years.

The option for large tequila producers to raid Oaxacan mezcaleros for their espadin like they did back in the mid-1980s, and as Sarah Bowen documented on page 46 of her book, Divided Spirits:  Tequila, Mezcal and the Politics of Production, is gone.  The current burgeoning Mezcal Industry will see to that.

In the meantime, get ready to ante up.

The 2017 Agave Shortage is much worse than we thought.

Pasote Anejo Tequila Review

Tasting Notes

Añejo: Flavor of roasted agave for a harmonious aroma of vanilla and sweet coconut. The palate is decadently rich and velvety smooth, tasting predominantly of roasted oranges and cinnamon due to the long aging period. The finish is long, warm, toasty and sweet, but the agave always shines through in this bottle.

About Pasote

pasote-tequila-bottlesNewly released and handcrafted by the scion of a family that has been distilling tequila since the early 19th century, Pasote Tequila pays tribute to the Aztecs, who were the first to distill agave.

Don Felipe Camarena’s family has been distilling tequila in Jalisco since the early 19th century. After his ancestor’s original distillery was destroyed and abandoned during the Mexican Revolution, Don Felipe switched gears, selling his prized blue agave to other distilleries. In 1937, he was finally able to open his own distillery, La Alteña, which he passed down to his grandson, Felipe J. Camarena.

The younger Felilpe was trained as a civil engineer, and many years later in 2007, Felipe followed in his father’s footsteps by opening a distillery of his own: El Pandillo. At El Pandillo, Felipe has constructed a series of original machines to optimize energy use and perfect the art of tequila-making. After harvest, Felipe roasts his agaves in a stone oven equipped with steam jets — the jets ensure that the agaves are cooked as evenly as possible, cutting down on cooking time and increasing yields. Next, the roasted agaves are ground and pressed in two different machines (once again of

Felipe’s design) which extract sugars from the plants’ fibers, making everything more easily fermented into alcohol. Once distilled, the tequila is proofed with rainwater that is collected using a rooftop funnel which Felipe (unsurprisingly) installed himself.

pasoteHandcrafted by Felip J. Camarena at El Pandillo, Pasote Tequilas pay tribute to the first agave distillers: the Aztecs. The Aztecs were some of the most ferocious fighters in history, and they often celebrated their victories by drinking the sacred agave plant.

Pasote Blanco Tequila is bottled immediately after distillation. The tequila is marked by an herbaceous aroma of perfectly roasted agave, similar to celery root and lime. With an exquisitely soft mouthfeel, the palate opens with zesty citrus leading to a combination of salt, jicama, and taro root. The finish is long, clean, and ever so slightly prickly with white pepper. A minerality derived from the rainwater used during distillation anchors the overall taste of this tequila.

Pasote Reposado Tequila is aged for six months in American ex-bourbon barrels. It has a delicate, fruit-forward fragrance of peach and licorice, leading to a warming palate of peppered pineapple and vanilla. The finish is sweet, clean, and spritzed with a hint of pink grapefruit.

Pasote Añejo Tequila is aged for one year in American ex-bourbon barrels, which mellows the flavor of roasted agave for a harmonious aroma of vanilla and sweet coconut. The palate is decadently rich and velvety smooth, tasting predominantly of roasted oranges and cinnamon due to the long aging period. The finish is long, warm, toasty and sweet, but the agave always shines through in this bottle.

Pasote Reposado Tequila Review

Tasting Notes

Reposado: Delicate, fruit-forward fragrance of peach and licorice, leading to a warming palate of peppered pineapple and vanilla. The finish is sweet, clean, and spritzed with a hint of pink grapefruit.

About Pasote

pasoteNewly released and handcrafted by the scion of a family that has been distilling tequila since the early 19th century, Pasote Tequila pays tribute to the Aztecs, who were the first to distill agave.

Don Felipe Camarena’s family has been distilling tequila in Jalisco since the early 19th century. After his ancestor’s original distillery was destroyed and abandoned during the Mexican Revolution, Don Felipe switched gears, selling his prized blue agave to other distilleries. In 1937, he was finally able to open his own distillery, La Alteña, which he passed down to his grandson, Felipe J. Camarena.

The younger Felilpe was trained as a civil engineer, and many years later in 2007, Felipe followed in his father’s footsteps by opening a distillery of his own: El Pandillo. At El Pandillo, Felipe has constructed a series of original machines to optimize energy use and perfect the art of tequila-making. After harvest, Felipe roasts his agaves in a stone oven equipped with steam jets — the jets ensure that the agaves are cooked as evenly as possible, cutting down on cooking time and increasing yields. Next, the roasted agaves are ground and pressed in two different machines (once again of

Felipe’s design) which extract sugars from the plants’ fibers, making everything more easily fermented into alcohol. Once distilled, the tequila is proofed with rainwater that is collected using a rooftop funnel which Felipe (unsurprisingly) installed himself.

pasote-tequila-bottlesHandcrafted by Felip J. Camarena at El Pandillo, Pasote Tequilas pay tribute to the first agave distillers: the Aztecs. The Aztecs were some of the most ferocious fighters in history, and they often celebrated their victories by drinking the sacred agave plant.

Pasote Blanco Tequila is bottled immediately after distillation. The tequila is marked by an herbaceous aroma of perfectly roasted agave, similar to celery root and lime. With an exquisitely soft mouthfeel, the palate opens with zesty citrus leading to a combination of salt, jicama, and taro root. The finish is long, clean, and ever so slightly prickly with white pepper. A minerality derived from the rainwater used during distillation anchors the overall taste of this tequila.

Pasote Reposado Tequila is aged for six months in American ex-bourbon barrels. It has a delicate, fruit-forward fragrance of peach and licorice, leading to a warming palate of peppered pineapple and vanilla. The finish is sweet, clean, and spritzed with a hint of pink grapefruit.

Pasote Añejo Tequila is aged for one year in American ex-bourbon barrels, which mellows the flavor of roasted agave for a harmonious aroma of vanilla and sweet coconut. The palate is decadently rich and velvety smooth, tasting predominantly of roasted oranges and cinnamon due to the long aging period. The finish is long, warm, toasty and sweet, but the agave always shines through in this bottle.

Pasote Blanco Tequila Review

Tasting Notes

Blanco: Marked by an herbaceous aroma of perfectly roasted agave, similar to celery root and lime. With an exquisitely soft mouthfeel, the palate opens with zesty citrus leading to a combination of salt, jicama, and taro root. The finish is long, clean, and ever so slightly prickly with white pepper. A minerality derived from the rainwater used during distillation anchors the overall taste of this tequila.

About Pasote

Newly released and handcrafted by the scion of a family that has been distilling tequila since the early 19th century, Pasote Tequila pays tribute to the Aztecs, who were the first to distill agave.

Don Felipe Camarena’s family has been distilling tequila in Jalisco since the early 19th century. After his ancestor’s original distillery was destroyed and abandoned during the Mexican Revolution, Don Felipe switched gears, selling his prized blue agave to other distilleries. In 1937, he was finally able to open his own distillery, La Alteña, which he passed down to his grandson, Felipe J. Camarena.

pasote-tequila-bottlesThe younger Felilpe was trained as a civil engineer, and many years later in 2007, Felipe followed in his father’s footsteps by opening a distillery of his own: El Pandillo. At El Pandillo, Felipe has constructed a series of original machines to optimize energy use and perfect the art of tequila-making. After harvest, Felipe roasts his agaves in a stone oven equipped with steam jets — the jets ensure that the agaves are cooked as evenly as possible, cutting down on cooking time and increasing yields. Next, the roasted agaves are ground and pressed in two different machines (once again of Felipe’s design) which extract sugars from the plants’ fibers, making everything more easily fermented into alcohol. Once distilled, the tequila is proofed with rainwater that is collected using a rooftop funnel which Felipe (unsurprisingly) installed himself.

Handcrafted by Felip J. Camarena at El Pandillo, Pasote Tequilas pay tribute to the first agave distillers: the Aztecs. The Aztecs were some of the most ferocious fighters in history, and they often celebrated their victories by drinking the sacred agave plant.

pasotePasote Blanco Tequila is bottled immediately after distillation. The tequila is marked by an herbaceous aroma of perfectly roasted agave, similar to celery root and lime. With an exquisitely soft mouthfeel, the palate opens with zesty citrus leading to a combination of salt, jicama, and taro root. The finish is long, clean, and ever so slightly prickly with white pepper. A minerality derived from the rainwater used during distillation anchors the overall taste of this tequila.

Pasote Reposado Tequila is aged for six months in American ex-bourbon barrels. It has a delicate, fruit-forward fragrance of peach and licorice, leading to a warming palate of peppered pineapple and vanilla. The finish is sweet, clean, and spritzed with a hint of pink grapefruit.

Pasote Añejo Tequila is aged for one year in American ex-bourbon barrels, which mellows the flavor of roasted agave for a harmonious aroma of vanilla and sweet coconut. The palate is decadently rich and velvety smooth, tasting predominantly of roasted oranges and cinnamon due to the long aging period. The finish is long, warm, toasty and sweet, but the agave always shines through in this bottle.

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand

“This is your tequila bucket list.”  

~ Rick Levy of Tequila Aficionado

If you’ve seen Mike Morales’ article on the Top 20 Craft Tequilas you’ve overlooked then you’ll understand that picking one (or even 10) from this list is like picking your favorite child.  It’s too difficult to do, so your best bet is to vote twice a day for your favorites and spend the rest of your time sipping all of them.

Congratulations to all the nominees.  If Mike could pick a top 50 list, it still wouldn’t be enough.  Thank you to all the wonderful brands out there who are constantly striving to produce the finest tequilas they can.  We love you all!

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qmIn order to be called tequila, this spirit distilled from the juices blue agave must be made in specific regions of Mexico, most prominently Jalisco and the town of tequila. While no tequilas are produced in the United States, we want to find the best craft tequila brands available in the country, and to do so, we asked a pair of tequila experts to nominate their favorites. Unlike other spirits, tequila brands often share distilleries – there are about 70 of them producing more than 500 brands – so it’s often the brand rather than the distillery that indicates quality. Many of these 20 nominees for best craft tequila brand use traditional methods. Many of the brand owners grow their own agave and personally oversee the entire tequila-making process. All produce high-quality, distinctive tequilas available in the U.S. market. Vote for your favorite once per day until voting ends on Monday, September 12 at noon ET. Read the official Readers’ Choice rules here.

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

1. Embajador Tequila

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

2. Suerte Tequila

 

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3. DesMaDre Tequila

 

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4. Tequila Gran Dovejo

 

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5. Siete Leguas

 

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6. T1 Tequila Uno

 

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7. Tequila Tapatío

 

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8. Tequila G4

 

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9. Tequila Don Modesto

 

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10. Tequila Alquimia

 

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11. Dulce Vida Tequila

 

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12. Pasote Tequila

 

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13. Tequila Fortaleza

 

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14. Casa Noble Tequila

 

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15. Siembra Spirits

 

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16. Tears of Llorona

 

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17. Tequila Ocho

 

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18. Tequila ArteNOM

 

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19. Don Fulano

 

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20. IXÁ Organic Tequila