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La Altena Distillery has a bit of a cult following in Mexico because of their high-quality Tequilas. They have been operating since the early 1800's and it remains a family operation to this day. Their 100% Blue Agave is double-distilled and bottled without any additions, even water. The Añejo is aged for 18 months in used American Whiskey barrels which give it this slightly amber color and notes of caramel and cinnamon.
Tapatio Reposado is how aged tequila should be. The notes of spice and pepper coming from oak aging integrate wonderfully with the natural sweetness and tropical fruit quality of the Blue Weber agave. As you take more time with this tequila, it reveals hints of caramel, cacao, toasted coconut and floral perfume. A grassy undertone leads to a crisp and mineral finish. Great as a sipper, this finds a perfect home in cocktails,from Margaritas and Palomas to a Tequila Old-Fashioned. Oskar Kostecki
A beautiful and unique añejo from the high elevation town of Atotonilco el Alto. Master distiller Enrique Fonseca, at the Tequileña distillery, uses 2-3 year old Cabernet Franc barrels from the Loire for aging for a little more than a year, and then transfer the tequila to used Bourbon barrels for an additional year of aging.
'El Caballito Cerrero', meaning 'the untamed horse', began in opposition to Herradura (the horseshoe), when Don Alfonso Jiménez Rosales split from the famed Tequila distillery. Today this spirit is still distilled by the same family in the original Santa Rita Factory where the operation began in 1950, and the family history of making agave-based spirits goes back 15 generations. They chose to use the 'distillation of Agave' designation forgoing the certification to be declared a Tequila, because they insist on maintaining the traditions of their ancestors, rather than conforming to the modern definition and stream-lined practices. Their destillado is made entirely with estate-grown agave, the water comes from a nearby spring, the fruit is cooked in steam-powered ovens, then distilled in small pot stills. This is a great opportunity to taste Tequila the way it used to be made. Michelle DeWyngaert
Casa San Matias is one of the oldest distilleries in Mexico, and this release is a harkening back to a very traditional practice of crushing the agave with their 100 year-old Tahona, basalt stone. The Weber Blue agave juice is then fermented in pine vats and then distilled twice in copper pots. The reposado is aged for three months before bottling.
Produced from the wild agave Selmiana in the high altitude Central Mexican Plateau in the state of San Luis Potosi, this is a beautiful foil to traditional Oaxacan mezcal. The agave is not roasted, but cooked (similar to Tequila) resulting in a spirit that is not smokey, but instead bursts on the palate with a crazy array of flavors. Herbal and mineral tones weave their way through a bright citrus and floral character. There's a slight sourness, a funk that I associate with cheese rind, and noticeable acidity, which is quite shocking for a distillate. The wilder side of mezcal. What I also notice with my bottle of Selmiana is that it changes quite remarkably once open. When I first popped the cork, it felt slightly muted and withdrawn, but within 20 minutes all the exuberance I remembered from previous bottles was there again. It is fascinating watching the bottle change and evolve over a period of weeks. Oskar Kostecki
Sotol is a spirit derived from the "Desert Spoon" shrub, typically made in the Chihuahua region of Mexico, produced in a similar method as mezcal. Unlike agave, however, the desert spoon can be harvested and continue to regrow. The 'Sierra' bottling from Flor del Desierto is crafted by Maestro Jose “Chito” Fernandez.
The makers of Fortaleza Tequila have been in the business for over 140 years. The founder (great-great-grandfather to the current owner) was the first person to export the spirit to the US, the first to implement the use of steam, instead of the traditional smoking pit, to cook the agave, and his son went on to file the application making Tequila an established Designation of Origin. Although the original company was sold, the family managed to hold onto the small distillery built at the highest point in the town of Tequila. Though the family has always been innovators, their current approach is to use the original recipe of their great-great-grandfather; with agave cooked in a small brick oven, stone-crushed, fermented in wooden tanks, and double distilled in copper pots.
The makers of Fortaleza Tequila have been in the business for over 140 years. Their approach is entirely traditional, maintaining the same recipe and equipment as their ancestors. The mineral-rich agave from the surrounding Tequila Valley is cooked very slowly in a small brick oven, stone-crushed, fermented in wooden tanks, and then double distilled in copper pots. Each lot of Reposado is aged and bottled separately after spending roughly seven months in used American Oak barrels that have been re-chipped and re-charred for more complexity in the final product.
Gran Agave is produced at the Destilaria Santa Lucia in the Jalisco Highlands. Despite being made at an incredible price, the Newton family continues to use the formula that they created back in 1940. All naturally grown Blue Agave, aged 4 to 6 years before harvest, steam-cooked without the use of a diffuser as they do with popular bulk Tequilas. The agave juice is fermented in open-top steel tanks, double-distilled in copper pot stills, and then bottled without additives. This is our go-to for a clean, fresh, easy-to-mix with Tequila!
Espadín from Ejutla! Félix Ramírez (Mendez) is a second-generation mezcalero based in the town of Yogana, about an hour and a half drive south of Oaxaca de Juárez. We're very excited to offer his first bottling to make it to NYC. The Espadín piñas are roasted in earthen pit for three days before a five day rest. Milling is by tahona and the fibers ferment with well water in Cypress tina followed by a single distillation through a copper alembic still with refrescadera typical to the Ejutla region, having a cool water-submerged montera above the pot with two rectifying plates inside. The cold water and the plates work to further distill the vapors, so a single pass is usually all that's needed to get close to the desired spirit, then proofed to 46.69% ABV with puntas and colas (Aug 2018). Cari Bernard
The plots for Tosba's Espadin are scattered throughout the valley, ranging in altitude from 1100m close to the village of Lachiroig to about 600m around the palenque. The growing conditions and maturation times vary greatly. Lower down the mountain, due to the more tropical conditions,the Espadin can mature in as little as 6-7 years, while the plots at higher elevations take up to 11 years. At the moment Edgar is co-fermenting and co-distilling plants taken from all the different parcels, but on my visit we talked about the future possibility of separating the Espadin according to terroir. Though currently we are in love with this new release. Higher proof than the earlier batches, it still retains its hallmark vivacity and acidity. The nose is all crushed rock and tropical fruit (banana!), with a faint whiff of aged Parmesan. The palate shows notes of guava and watermelon bubblegum, with a floral element reminiscent of hibiscus. There is a hint of thyme and cardamom, along with a smoky, charcoal note. Viva Mezcal Tosba, this is sensational Espadin! Oskar Kostecki
Neta works with a group of mezcaleros from around Miahuatlán, Oaxaca. The maestro behind this release is Candido García Cruz, who has been distilling for decades. Ninety Espadín (Agave angustifolia) plants were left ‘capón, or quiotudo’ (the plant’s flowering stalk is cut early and the plant remains unharvested, concentrating sugars in the piña) for a full year before harvesting. The piñas roasted for two weeks in an earthen oven, and rested for a week before being broken down by a mix of machete and mechanical mill. This was followed by a two-day rest for the fibers and then a sixteen-day fermentation in cypress vats and a double distillation in a copper pot still, proofed to 49.15% ABV, 900L produced, under 200L of which made it to us in NYC. Harvest was in 2015, and there is an inherent complexity and a subtle balance, with a mix of florals, cinnamon and lemon oil and creamy mouthfeel, this is a truly elegant Espadín. Cari Bernard
Bacanora is finally getting some attention here in the United States! This is a mezcal from the Sonora region of Mexico and has been around for over 300 years. Rancho Tepua uses the Agave Pacifica variety (once, the only type permitted now the designation has expanded), harvested by hand, cooked for three days in a brick pit and then fermented with native yeasts. Currently in the hands of Maestro Bacanorero Roberto Contreras, the Rancho Tepua distillery has been in the family for over five generations. Notes of sweet cherry blossom, chicory, and fresh herbs on the nose, and on the palate a balance of sweet and savory spice, roasted banana leaf, and a crushed stone minerality that lingers after each sip. Enjoy this neat or with a small ice cube to cut the heat. Michelle DeWyngaert