Glass Bottom Spirits: At the End of Good Tequila

What’s at the End of Every Good Tequila?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Nothing to Something

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

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

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

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

Of vital importance to him–

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

The Magic of Mandala

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

Tequila Tasting with Humberto

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

What a Chore

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

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

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

The Importance of Distribution

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

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

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

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

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

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.

***

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

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Salud!!