Monday 10 June, 2013

Tapatio Tequila: The Proof’s In The Overproof

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Last night, an event at Downtown LA’s Las Perlas tequila bar was almost more understated than it should’ve been (how often does that happen in the spirits world?); Third generation distiller Carlos Camarena of La Alteña distillery (in the Jalisco highlands) was there to formally introduce his Tapatio tequila to the US Market. While Tapatio […]




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From Left: Las Perlas' Raul, Carlos, Amanda, Marko, Paul... introduce yourselves!

Last night, an event at Downtown LA's Las Perlas tequila bar was almost more understated than it should've been (how often does that happen in the spirits world?);

Third generation distiller Carlos Camarena of La Alteña distillery (in the Jalisco highlands) was there to formally introduce his Tapatio tequila to the US Market. While Tapatio Blanco at the standard 80 proof finally came to the US last year (after years of rumors), now it's joined by Reposado, Anejo and of particular interest, a 110 "overproof" version--almost "cask strength."

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"atmosphere"

In a room full of LA's bartending elite, Camarena and his importer Marko Karakasevic (distiller of Charbay himself) seemed to be jockeying for charisma points, both bubbling over with the details of what made this tequila, and its journey across the border, so unique. Tapatio comes from the same distillery as Ocho and El Tesoro, but while those brands are both excellent as well, there's a clear distinction in expression here.

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"Blanco will tell you if the agave was from highlands or lowlands, mature or young," Camarena explained. Of course, process plays a role as well.

Blanco, 80 Proof: Based on a very fast tasting, this has a pepperberry nose, and a soft mouthfeel, sweet, slightly caramel beginning followed by herbal and earthy notes, then a snakebite finish--harsh, but carried through by the texture and sweetness. Any cocktail using this should be careful not to mask or fight against its nature.

Reposado: Very round mouth, even more pronounced caramel and just a slightly more integrated bite on the end,  pepperberries.

Anejo: To me, the least impressive of all four, this was good but seemed to subdue the soft and sweet notes for more pepper and power. But probably excellent for savory cocktails like a Bloody Maria.

Blanco, 110 Proof: Wow. And when I say wow, it's not from an overwhelming alcohol burn, but rather the lack of it. Sweet soft clean cane vanilla and caramel tones are followed by a little herb, leading to pepperberry and white pepper finish. So good that despite the power, you wouldn't want to over-mix this, cocktail-wise, it just needs some very simple acoutrements.

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Tapatio joven, anejo, fuerte!

"We destroy all laws of chemistry and physics with agave spirits," Camarena said, explaining how what would normally be in the 'tails' of a distillation (e.g. fusel oils) comes first in tequila. Here's a video I found online of another family member Felipe Camarena, giving some details about the distillery and tequilas.

The sampling was followed by a cocktail session led by Congenial Spirits' Amanda Gunderson and Patina Group's Paul Sanguinetti... and then an 'unofficial' afterparty across 6th Street at Cole's.

And it continues tonight at Harvard & Stone. If that seems like overkill, it's probably because you haven't tasted this stuff. Yes, it's that good.

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When this starts spinning, you know you've had enough.

More about Charbay and Tapatio Tequilas


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