Chisholm Trail Crafts | Jarrito Tumbler Tasting Notes

Chisolm Trail Crafts | Jarrito Tumbler Tasting Notes http://wp.me/p3u1xi-5bd
An example of Chisolm Trail’s craftsmanship

Tasting notes submitted to Chisholm Trail Craft Glasses for the prototype of Stolzle’s jarrito tumbler, a proposed vessel designed to exclusively appreciate agave spirits.

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JARRITO TUMBLER TASTING NOTES

 

Mr. Romeo Hristov from Chisholm Trail Crafts, Incorporated, has asked me to test a prototype of the Jarrito tumbler for tequila/agave spirits produced by Stölzle Lausitz GmbH.

Personal Tasting Procedure

All tequilas and other agave spirits are always tasted at room temperature.

As I had been instructed by a representative of Glencairn, the glass should be held at the chest or lower, and the aromas of a spirit should rise up to greet you.

Also, as I had been instructed in the past, with any type of stemmed glassware (brandy snifter, Riedel, champagne, etc.), I prefer to nose (with mouth open) by physically turning and facing to my left as I inhale through my left nostril, and doing the same movement to my right side and nostril.

Lastly, after nosing in the same manner at the front of my nose, I then use the single pass technique across my entire nose.

I prefer to hold all vessels from the stem or the foot to prevent inadvertent warming of the liquid being tasted.  The jarrito was held from the bottom.

Craft Agave Spirits

Tequila(s):  Cobalto Organic Blanco (NOM 1586 Destileria Casa de Piedra; 40% ABV, 80 proof).

Terralta blanco tequila (NOM 1579, Destileria El Pandillo; 55% ABV, 110 proof).

Terralta extra anejo tequila (NOM 1579, Destileria El Pandillo; 55% ABV, 110 proof).

Tequila G4 blanco (NOM 1579, Destileria El Pandillo; 40% ABV, 80 proof).

Hacienda Vieja anejo (NOM 1412, Destiladora de los Altos; 40% ABV, 80 proof)

Los 3 Garcias blanco, reposado, anejo (NOM 1594, Casa Tequilera Alcardan K & Asociados; 40% ABV, 80 proof)

Mezcal(s):  Estancia Raicilla (R & J Estancia Distillery; 40% ABV, 80 proof).

Santo Diablo Mezcal Joven (Unaged, 45% ABV, 90 proof, espadin).

Montelobos Mezcal Joven (Unaged, 43.2% ABV, 86.4 proof espadin).

 Glassware

Chisolm Trail Crafts | Jarrito Tumbler Tasting Notes http://wp.me/p3u1xi-5bd
Tears of Llorona served in Riedel stemware.

Riedel Ouverture tequila glass:

  1. Look, feel and handling (describe the shape, proportions, weight, and balance in the hand).

An accepted tool of tequila tasting since its introduction in 2001, it is the vessel most of us have been exposed to and taught to use to appreciate tequila’s many facets.

Elegantly stemmed and reminiscent of champagne glasses, but not as narrow at the bowl, it can be easily handled and tilted, either at the stem or foot, to examine the color and clarity of the liquid without spilling.

Weighing significantly less than common champagne glasses, there is a risk of Riedels breaking, especially between the stem and bowl.

  1. Initial nosing, persistence, complexity and emphasis of the aromas.

Nosing tequilas, and some 80 proof mezcals, can be a challenge.

Depending on the tequila, and regardless of the proof (ABV), one had to be instructed to literally stick one’s nose inside the bowl and to inhale deeply to find aromas that might have been missed at the initial pass.

Alcohol burn with any proof tequila is also a real possibility while “digging in” to try and capture the scents and nuances.  Frequent swirling is necessary in order for aromas to bloom and for any excess alcohol to dissipate.

While some tasters prefer the Riedel for unaged (blanco) tequilas, it was reputed by the Riedels to have been designed specifically for reposados.

That said, darker expressions of tequila (some older aged reposados, anejos and extra anejos) sampled, and their layers of complexity seem to remain, for the most part, intact.

Glencairn whiskey nosing glass:Chisolm Trail Crafts | Jarrito Tumbler Tasting Notes http://wp.me/p3u1xi-5bd

  1. Feel and handling (shape, proportions, weight, balance in the hand):

Long associated almost exclusively with the whisky and scotch industries, as well as its aficionados, it has been widely favored and accepted by tequila cognoscenti “oak heads” for many years.

In fact, it has been preferred over the Riedel Ouverture, especially in tasting and enjoying the more aged tequilas.

Known for its distinctive thick foot and bell shaped bowl ending in an extended neck chimney, it has the same size opening as the Riedel.  This allows for more even mouth surface (and ultimately palate) coverage with which to sip, savor and nose a spirit.

Its footed base keeps the vessel steady on any flat surface without the danger of breaking any stems as is often the case with Riedels when accidentally knocked over.

The thickness of the foot is ideal for handling the Glencairn.  Swirling, nosing and sipping are done easily, without inadvertently warming the liquid inside.  Its design is very pleasing to the eye, as well.

  1. Initial nosing, persistence, complexity and emphasis of the aromas:

The Glencairn’s construction allows the taster to discern aromas and nuances often overlooked or muted by other accepted glassware without completely extinguishing the necessary effects of any excess alcohol.

In the case of sampling blanco tequilas, and in particular high proof blancos, I believe the bell (bowl) allows for any excess alcohol to become trapped long enough to not interfere with the nosing process.

As I mentioned earlier, the Glencairn efficiently presents any spirits’ aromas when held in close proximity to the nose.

I believe the thinness and strength of the glass Glencairn uses to produce its vessels is the secret to its value and versatility.

It is just about the perfect glass for any spirit, including tequila, and everyday use.

Stolzle jarrito tumbler:

  1. Feel and handling (shape, proportions, weight, balance in the hand):

In the attempt to craft a drinking vessel that could ultimately be associated exclusively with Mexican agave spirits of all types, both styles of jarritos (tumblers) are uniquely designed without a stem or handle which are both European inventions.

Both jarritos have a slightly weighted flattened base.  One model has a more extended neck similar to the Glencairn or Riedel.  The other model has a slightly shorter neck and a bit wider circumference providing even more mouth surface, and eventually, palate coverage by the sampled liquid.  Both have a slightly bell shaped bowl, not unlike the Glencairn.

Also, similar to the Glencairn, I believe its bell or bowl allows for the non-interference of excess alcohol when nosing higher proof tequilas and mezcals while still discerning the spirits’ various aromas.

Our CMO, Lisa Pietsch, particularly enjoyed the “hand feel” of both jarritos.

Gracefully designed, the jarritos seem to naturally invite the casual sipper to wrap his or her fingers around the bowl and neck of the vessel, allowing the impression of becoming more “intimate” with the agave spirit inside.

For judging purposes, the natural reflex to hold the vessel by the bowl can be circumvented by simply placing the jarrito on a flat surface and nosing from a standing position, if necessary.

The base of both models is still wide enough to hold the jarrito securely by the fingertips to swirl and sniff.  The danger of inadvertently warming the liquid inside by using this technique is negligible.

Finally, the thickness of the jarrito glass is just millimeters thicker than the Glencairn.  The short necked jarrito is also slightly thicker than the long necked one.

  1. Initial nosing, persistence, complexity and emphasis of the aromas:

Glassware:  Extended neck jarrito.

Nosing (80 proof tequila)

The floral aromas were instantly noticeable without having to swirl the jarrito to help aerate the liquid.  Upon closer nosing, the fruit aromas became very prevalent, as well.

In the case of Tequila G4, there was an instantly discernible scent of wet cement perceived at just the initial pass through.  Normally, this particular aroma isn’t evident until after several attempts using the Riedel Ouverture.

Nosing (110 proof tequila)

 The sharpness remained as above.

As with any high proof spirit, there would be significant alcohol present, however, only at the bottom of the glass where it belongs.  In this case, the alcohol was not at all offensive or aggressive.

Intake 

 Again, I was taken aback by how lucid and sharp the liquid tasted on the intake.

Glassware:  Short neck jarrito.

Nosing and Intake (110 proof tequila)

Same as long necked jarrito, however…

Both the nose and the intake showcased significantly sweeter elements in the Terralta extra anejo that was both surprising and pleasing.

Terralta is a very complex tequila to begin with, but the short neck jarrito stood up to the challenge.

Overall Impressions and Recommendations

 Incongruence between nosing and tasting… 

For those of us using Riedels exclusively to assess tequilas and all other agave spirits, it is not uncommon to perceive an imbalance or incongruence between nosing and tasting.

I believe, at least in tequila competitions and tastings that I have been involved in, that frequent re-tastings or re-pours are necessary for the judge to determine accurate ratings and/or flavor notes.

Tasting in HD…

In nosing 80 proof tequilas with the jarrito, I was struck by how sharply and easily it was to discern the separate aromas from each other.

It was like watching television in HD, or hearing the notes on a finely tuned piano for the first time.  The nuances and subtleties of the tequilas came across loud and clear.  It was very exciting.

The presence of alcohol…

In nosing 110 proof tequilas, and having spoken to well known tequila master distillers at length, the presence of alcohol is a necessary element for the spirit itself to express its unique characteristics and aromas.

Any attempt to eliminate its presence, either by using specific glassware designed to do so, using ice, or additives included during the spirits’ rectification process, only serve to mask a potential flaw or to mute other pertinent characteristics inherent in the spirit.

For this reason, I look for and expect a certain amount of alcohol.

Criticism against Glencairn…

Chisolm Trail Crafts | Jarrito Tumbler Tasting Notes http://wp.me/p3u1xi-5bd

There have been some reviews by a few critics of the Glencairn that it presents the aromas and flavors of the liquid inside “almost too brightly.”

While I’ve never experienced this effect, to me, there is no such thing as presenting a liquid “too brightly.”

My belief is that over reliance on the Riedel Ouverture tequila glass has possibly trained “catadores” (tequila tasters) to become “nose blind” to certain aromas.  In the long run, the Riedel’s design doesn’t do agave spirits justice.

If a vessel is properly constructed, it should allow both the connoisseur and the layman an equal footing in making professional judging determinations at competitions, or simply personal buying decisions for one’s enjoyment.

In my opinion, the jarrito does as comparable a job in presenting agave spirits—perhaps even more so—than the Glencairn.

Marketability and acceptance of the jarrito tumblers…

My first reaction was to use the shorter necked jarrito to taste mezcals, and the longer necked one for tequilas.  My reason for this is that I use a Glencairn Canadian whisky glass almost exclusively for mezcals and felt the short necked jarrito was a natural progression.

The longer necked jarrito reminded me of the traditional Glencairn or Riedel Ouverture, which is why I chose it for tequilas.

Apart from the individual properties of each agave spirit that I tasted, what I found most gratifying about using the jarrito was that there was a consistency of nosing-to-flavor that is often lacking in other glassware.

After using both jarrito models interchangeably between tequilas and mezcals, the differences were slight.

The higher proof liquids seemed to be presented better in the shorter jarrito with the slightly thicker glass, while the 80 proof spirits compared equally favorably to the Glencairn whisky glass using the longer necked tumbler.

Mezcal has no official glassware like tequila does.  Most traditional or ancestral mezcals at higher alcohol grades are usually served in gourds or clay “copitas” without masking their true characteristics.  Instead, these vessels seem to enhance the complexity of the mezcals.

In other words, one could serve a well made mezcal from a tennis shoe without affecting the overall flavor profile!

For this reason, the marketability of two distinct glasses—one for tequila and one for mezcal, or other agave spirits—may not be a bad idea.

As with any new innovation in drinking vessels, training in its use is essential to its success and acceptance among the agave spirits communities.

Bonus!

Lastly, I discovered that while testing the jarrito tumblers, they required far less liquid to sample and make proper determinations.

In medal competitions, this factor could lead to much less palate fatigue for judges, and cost savings to brand owners.

Recommendation…

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that with the jarrito, there were no surprises or incongruence in the nose vs. flavor factor.

The only surprise is that the jarrito made it so easy!

 

Signed:  Mike Morales, CEO

Tequila Aficionado Media

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.

Special Feature: Riedel Glassware Care

Special Feature: Riedel Glassware Care http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4lKRiedel glassware care for tequila aficionados, courtesy of Rick Thibault Levy and M.A. “Mike” Morales.

 

We’re all about using fine glassware to enjoy our tequilas to the fullest but washing Riedel glasses after a tasting can have you not-so-happily singing 99 Riedel glasses on the wall and counting down as the delicate buggers shatter when you’re trying to remove towel lint from the inside of the glass or work out a water spot.  Rick Levy has the solution and Mike Morales now sleeps better at night knowing it!  Use a chamois! 

Riedel Ouverture Glass

Shaped for extracting full enjoyment when sipping tequila, the four glasses in this set have narrow bowls on long, slender, stylish stems. Part of the moderately priced Ouverture series offered by world-renowned Austrian glassmaker Riedel Crystal (founded in 1756), they’re lead-free. That means they’re not crystal like Riedel’s premium glasses but are machine blown of potash glass and are dishwasher-safe. Their thin rims are cut and polished to Riedel’s exacting standards, so tequila flows easily onto the tongue and flavor is enhanced. Each glass holds 6-3/4 ounces and stands 8-1/4 inches high

Special Feature: Tasting Tequila with the Riedel Ouverture Tequila Glass

reidel, riedel, glass, Tequila Glass, riedel ouvertureMike Morales and Alex Perez discuss the history of the Riedel Ouverture Tequila Glass, how it came to be, and the commonly accepted method of nosing and tasting tequila with the Riedel Ouverture Tequila Glass.

About the Tequila Glass

This elegant slender glass has a lengthy stem and is designed to lift fine Tequila to the level it deserves. Devotees can now appreciate Tequila in it’s own glass and give it the respect of which it is worthy. Machine made of non leaded glass. Dishwasher Safe.

Shaped for maximizing full enjoyment when sipping tequila, the two glasses in this set have narrow bowls on long, slender, stylish stems. Part of the moderately priced Ouverture series offered by world-renowned glassmaker Riedel Crystal, they’re machine-blown, lead-free and dishwasher safe. Their thin rims are cut and polished to Riedel’s exacting standards, so tequila flows easily onto the palate and the flavors are enhanced. Each glass holds 6-3/4-ounce and stands 8-1/4-inch high.

Suggested retail price $24 for two glasses.  Available on Amazon.com for approximately $20 for two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction to Tequila Glassware

Mike Morales and Alexander Perez of Tequila Aficionado introduce us to a variety of Tequila Glassware styles and how they can be used to enjoy your tequilas and mezcals to the fullest.

 

 

For more information on Tequila Glassware and how to properly enjoy your tequila or mezcal to the fullest, watch our Blab with Martin Duffy of Glencairn Glass.

 

When we tried Embajador Tequila Anejo, a tequila we’ve been enjoying for years, in the Reidel Tequila Glass, we discovered amazing new nuances and aromas on the nose and the tasting experience was even better.  We highly recommend you try the Glencairn Whisky Glass with your favorite anejo and put it to the test!

Connect With Glencairn

About The Glencairn Whisky Glass

The Glencairn Whisky Glass is a revolutionary whisky glass that really lets one savor the taste and complexity of fine whisky. These are great to use for any of your Single Malt Whisky’s, Irish Whiskey’s, and also your single barrel bourbons. With the tapered mouth, you are able to really smell all of the nuances the whisky has to offer. Any malt advocate will love this glass!

History Of The Glass:
Champagne, Brandy, Wine… each has its own glass. Yet whisky, the worlds most complex spirit can be found served in anything from hiball tumblers to Paris goblets.

In 2001 Glencairn Crystal solved the problem of identifying the ideal glass for whisky. Designed by Raymond Davidson nearly 25 years earlier, its development involved pulling together the master blenders from the five largest whisky companies and asking them to perfect his initial design.

Today the Glencairn Glass can be found at every distillery in Scotland, Ireland, Wales as well as most in the USA.

Germán González and The Riedel Tequila Glass

In this segment, Germán González, distiller of T1 Tequila Uno and Tears of Llorana, explains why the Riedel Ouverture glass (now part of Riedel’s Vinum collection) is ideal for tequila tasting.

He demonstrates the right way and the wrong way to hold the glass, and details why it is so effective a tool when enjoying his exquisite tequilas.

Similar to the historic Jose Cuervo family and distillery, Riedel has been creating glassware for every type of wine and spirit for over 250 years.

Read the full story of Germán González and T1 Tequila Uno here.

 

Judging at The Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine

In mid-August of 2014, the organizers of the 6th Annual Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine, which took place on October 11, 2014, graciously asked Tequila Aficionado Media CEO, Mike Morales, to participate as a judge.  Their unique, take-at-home blind tequila tasting competition used the Tequila Matchmaker smartphone application to score and bestow awards.  You can review the results of the tasting competition here.

Take-Home Test

I dreaded tests and pop quizzes in school.  I never did well on them no matter how long I studied.  The only answer for someone like me to improve his grade was to do extra credit work.  Often, that meant the blessing of the occasional take-home test.

The entire text book, notes and other related materials was at my disposal.  In addition, the stress of competing against my smarter classmates was lifted, as well as any pressure about time limits.

Really, it was a license to cheat!  How could I go wrong?

That’s why the concept of the take-home cata made the Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine’s tasting competition so intriguing for me.

 Matchmaker, Matchmaker,

Make Me A Match…

Grover Sanschagrin, co-founder of TasteTequila.com, is the designer of Tequila Matchmaker, the only smartphone application to date that aids tequila

TasteTequila
TasteTequila

aficionados in finding tequilas that are suitable to their taste preferences.  It also allows enthusiasts to rate and grade brands on a sliding numerical scale.

Grover has introduced Tequila Matchmaker in some of the leading and trending tequila bars in the US.  The Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine is the first event to exclusively use the Tequila Matchmaker app for its blind tasting competition.

Grover Sanschagrin of TasteTequila.com.
Grover Sanschagrin of TasteTequila.com.

In this Facebook interview, Grover shares some of his thoughts on the aftermath of the competition.

TA:  So…did the results amaze you?

GS:  Not really.  I wish there were more brands involved so we could get a better comparison.

Last year, when we announced the results, several brands were in the room.  They immediately asked questions about the judges.  This gave me the idea to “test” the judges as a way of giving the brands an idea of who they were dealing with.
So, duplicating a tequila as a way to “judge the judges” was my answer.  A total experiment.  Not totally scientific, but definitely interesting.

TA:  Did they know who the judges were this time around?

GS:  No, we didn’t disclose which judges gave which scores.  Also, all of the judges, except for one, did well.

TA:  Did they know the names of the judges on the roster?
GS:  I believe so.

Also, rating these tequilas from home is a totally different method than rating them with all of the judges in the same room.  Not that any one is better than the other, just

Freddy the Cat judging añejos.
Freddy the Cat judging añejos.

that they are different.

I would actually like to try an experiment where the same judges rate things at home, and then again, together (like the SOM [Spirits of Mexico competition] format) and then see the differences.
Grover continues…
GS:  I also want to experiment with the order of the selection.  We can actually use our app to create a random order for each person, so nobody will have the same [order].
Ready to judge for Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine.
Ready to judge for Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine.

TA:  That would be a cool variable.

GS:  For me at SOM [Grover was a judge at 2014’s contest], palate fatigue is an issue, so it would be interesting to see if tequilas at the end of the line tend to do better.  I am fascinated by blind ratings, so I’m having a blast trying all these new experiments.
TA:  I think [for me] tequilas at the beginning of the line may also suffer from palate “under work.”

GS:  In our blind tasting tour, we found just the opposite.  The tequilas in slots 1 and 2 tended to score higher that 3-6.  No idea why, really – but it was clear in the comparison of the events.

Beginning of the line for blanco category.
Beginning of the line for blanco category.
TA:  Did the time of day also make a difference?
GS:  It was mid afternoon for all of the events.
TA:  So time of day was pretty consistent?
GS:  I know that the SOM guys insist that spirits must be evaluated in the morning, but that seems a little odd to me.  I think the judge needs to be consistent, but should be able to choose when they drink.  I don’t usually drink in the morning. usually. :-).  There’s an element of “real life” that isn’t present when you drink Tapatio 110 at 9am.

TA:  Did the certified catador do better than was expected?

GS:  Nope.

Rant Alert!

Before I go into my pros and cons of rating tequilas using the Tequila Matchmaker app for the Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine, let me get a few pet peeves off my chest.

Judging Competitions–What A Concept!

In all my time studying, analyzing and observing the Tequila Industry, not once have I ever known any tequila enthusiast, purist, newbie, connoisseur, collector or consumer (let alone brand owner and/or importer) to be happy with the results of any spirits judging competition.

Whether it’s the venerable San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the respected Beverage Testing Institute, the famed Spirits of Mexico, or any of the smaller, regional tasting events throughout the country, no one has ever been completely happy or agreed entirely with the outcomes.

The older the judging tournaments are, the more importance their annual medal counts are given by an unsuspecting public who only purchase award winning beers, wines and spirits based on their perceived value, instead of trusting its own taste buds.

Those long running competitions become more expensive to enter, forcing smaller more deserving brands out and leaving the larger, transnational corporations with deeper portfolios and bigger budgets to duke it out.

Accusations of alleged backroom negotiations for awards has also been an issue, of late.

And let’s not forget the most lucrative part of the tasting event–

Licensing

Paying for the rights to use the competition’s branded medals and seals in addition to the entry fees per spirits expression submitted.

Yet, spirits brands in general, and tequila brands in particular, continue to allocate hard-earned marketing dollars toward entering these yearly competitions for the privilege of hanging neck tags from their bottles or affixing stickers onto their labels named for precious metals or gemstones.

Double Vibranium, anyone?

Collecting medals and awards have gone the way of tattoos and piercings–

Everyone has them, and the novelty and mystique have worn off.

At the end of the day, it seems like everyone who participated in the competitions scored some sort of hardware and the rest of us are left shaking our heads in dismay or agreement.

Lastly…

Scoring

Monterey Bay blanco category and glassware.
Monterey Bay blanco category and glassware.

I was once told by a very respected spirits writer that a unified scoring system was good for an event should the organizers decide to hold other branded spirits competitions.

Puh-leez!

Whoever said that a templated numerical  scoring method used to grade different kinds of spirits was appropriate for tequila tastings?  Diffusers aside, tequila itself is so unique, it doesn’t compare with the flavor profiles of all other spirits, so why rate them that way?

How about a rating system that’s good for the juice instead of one that’s good for the show?  (BTW…one already exists.)

Pros And Cons

Pro–scoring on the Tequila Matchmaker app is amazingly simple.

Con–There’s no numerical rating for the tequilas’ appearance on the Tequila Matchmaker app.  Takes the whole sensorial feeling out of tequila tasting.  Only your nose and mouth get to have all the fun.

Pro–Shipping two ounce samples is neat and cost effective for the organizers of the show.

Con–See what happens when minis are compromised.  (Warning:  It’s not pretty.)

I particularly found that my sealed reposado samples were extremely alcohol-y even after sitting at room temperature for a couple of days.

Pro–It’s lovely to take your time judging samples at your leisure.  I agree with

You never know who might stop by to help judge tequila.
You never know who might stop by to help judge tequila.

 

Grover that it saves on palate fatigue, too.

 

Con–I miss the camaraderie of other expert judges and learning from them.  It ups your game like playing one-on-one with LeBron James or batting against Clayton Kershaw.

 

Pro–Depending on my schedule, I chose what time of day to judge my samples.

 

Con–According to the guidelines set forth by the original Mexican Tequila Academy, tastings should begin by 11 AM when a catador’s (tequila taster’s) palate is freshest.  [See also their tequila scoring sheet and criteria.]  This article here explains where this custom began.

 

Pro–I knew which glassware and other tips and tools to use to make me, as a judge, more effective.

 

Con–The lack of uniformity and protocol among the judges could have affected the final results.

 

Pro–It was exciting to use Tequila Matchmaker’s breakthrough scoring system.

 

Con–I can’t, in all honesty, say that I was pleased with the awarded outcomes or my graded performance.

 

See!  What did I tell you?  I hate tests.