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Tequila Expo 2008

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The Tequila Expo in Tijuana has been calling for the past couple of years and finally, I made it out.I ran through twice in between engagements these past two weekends, tasted over 35 brands, had between 50-60 tastes of platas, reposados, and anejos; drank tequila con vibora(tequila with floating dead rattle snake), chased with beers, ate foods from Oaxaca and D.F.,enthusiastically sampled Fresca, and socialized with the fine tequila industry people on La Revo in front of the Fronton Jai Alai.

First of all, the Expo has a $60.00 peso cover charge, less than $6USD, for an all you can sample bacchanalia of tequila.Surprizingly,everyone was well behaved.As you know, these days TJ is pretty quiet, so the Expo had a crowd, but it wasn't full both times I went.The event was well attended by locals, out of towners from Mexicali to Guadalajara, and some US tourists.Once inside, two tents stretching from 7th to 8th were packed with booths of single product tequila producers, and companies with a full roster of brands.There were some food and specialty beverage booths, but the majority of them were all about tequila. Also, a little mariachisand

The tequila region includes 5 states:Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacan,Tamaulipas, and Nayarit, with the latter being the only one that grows the agaves but doesn't make tequila.Over 95% of tequila is produced in the state of Jalisco, from agave azul grown in the region.Mezcal is made using other agaves in a stubbornly more traditional process in Oaxaca, Michoacan, and Guerrero.The only offering here for this elegant spirit at the Expo was the stomach turning tourist hallucinagenic, Gusano Rojo.Other agave plant spirits in Mexico include Bacanora from Sonora,Sotol from Chihuahua,Agave Azul from Sinaloa(used to be tequila until the DOM was established excluding Sinaloa), and the moonshine Raicilla, recently bottled and sold legitimately, also made in Jalisco among other places.

This year's Expo was exciting to see and know some new brands and talk to the representatives of my favorite producers, and to learn a thing or two about my favorite pastime.I'm up to about 50 bottles in my collection.Most were eager to talk and share information about their tequilas, and the prices were right.Wholesale prices are across the board at the Expo.So, come with a wad of cash and a smuggler's compartment in your car.

These are almost all the tequila brands I tasted in the two days and the city and state in which the agaves grow.Anejos(1 year of more in roble blanco-white oak), Reposados(3mos. to under a year in roble blaco), Platas(silver) and Blancos(white), no Oros(gold) or jovens(young) were tasted, or around as far as I could tell.

Amatitan,Jal.

Oro y Plata
Tierra Azul
Tres Mujeres
Tres Tonos

Atotonilco El Alto,Jal.

Caballito Cerrero
Chamuco
Don Anastacio
Lapis

Arandas,Jal.

El Tesoro

El Arenal,Jal.

Adrenalina
Alma de Mujer
Cava de Oro
Don Valente
Volcan de Mi Tierra

Guadalajara,Jal.

Caballito Cerrero
Don Anselmo

Guanajuato

Corralejo(Cd. Abasolo)
Quita Penas(Cd. Abasolo)Crema de tequila

Jalisco

El Agave(select agaves from the highlands of Jalisco)

Jesus Maria,Jal.
AhaToro
Clase Azul

Los Altos,Jal.

Oro Azul

Tamaulipas

Chinaco(Cd. Gonzalez)

Tequila,Jal.

Arette
Gran Jubileo
Honorable
Oro Azul
Pura Sangre

Zapotlanejo,Jal.

Con Orgullo

No Information
Molino Rojo
Territorio Azul(organic)

Non-Tequila
Sinaloa

Los Osuna 100%Agave Azul

The outstanding tequilas were Tres Tonos anejo and reposado,Don Anastacio anejo,Arette anejo, blanco and reposado,El Agave anejo and reposado,Corralejo anejo,Clase Azul anejo and reposado, AhaToro anejo and reposado,Cava de Oro anejo,Gran Jubileo anejo, and Alma de Mujer anejo in the high end category.

Other high end tequilas that were enjoyable but didn't excite were the Oro Azul anejo,Tres Mujeres anejo, Lapis anejo,and Chinaco anejo.These are tequilas that I like, but for the price there are many better.I would probably get the Chinaco just to have something from the state of Tamaulipas in my collection.

In the mid-range priced tequilas: Volcan de mi Tierra(Mex. only) knocked me out(bought a bottle),Adrenalina reposado,San Anselmo(Mex. only) anejo and reposado,Pura Sangre and the plain bottle of Tres Mujeres anejo.Without the fancy bottle, this tequila is affordable and a little more interesting in its new price range.Los Osuna's agave azul from the state of Sinaloa was already in my collection, but it was nice to see how well it stood up to the big names.I recommend Los Osuna, highly.

Interesting low end tequilas: the Caballito Cerrero reposado is good to drink straight, and affordable enough to use for palomas, margaritas, and other cocktails.

Tequilas gone bad, yuck! La Duena reposado was unpleasant and harsh for such a fine looking bottle,I couldn't finish the Real de Mexico reposado or the Oro y Plata reposado, they were Cuervo Gold quality.

Best slogan:Los Chamucos(The devils), a good tequila in its own right has flying devils on the label with the phrase,"Si Amanece, Nos Vamos" translation"If the sun come up, we're outta here!"

Best new distillery(new to me):LETICIA HERMOSILLO RAVELERO, with Alma de Mujer, Adrenalina, and Cava de Oro.All these tequilas were great with attractive bottles and the substance to back them up.The Adrenalina is a real Mexican style with sweet flavor and just enough burn to remind you what you're dealing with.The more smooth Alma de Mujer had orange peel flavors and makes a sippin' tequila for the US market, but also for the sofisticados of Mexico.

Most different tequila:Territorio Azul is an all organic tequila that has an interesting flavor that set it apart from everything else I tasted.Could it be the way tequila used to taste before modernization?I want to drink this a few more times to understand it better, but I'm very intrigued.

Best of the day:The first day, Tres Tonos anejo which came home with me, and the second Saturday my friend and I agreed on Don Anastacio, both with dark, nutty, and varied flavors bouncing on the tongue.The flavors held through the finish on both.

If you haven't tried tequila con vibora(dead rattler), you are missing a thrill.A powerful blend of cheap tequilas with heat and a leathery taste that will push you over the edge if you aren't there already.

Hottest booth:Fresca, with their cool refreshing grapefruit soft drink, and muchas curvas to make you thirsty.

Best apertif:Quita Pena's crema de tequilas is amazing, great for your girlfriend or wife who doesn't like tequila.Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.

It has been a great year in tequila for me, but this brought it to new heights.There were so many good tequilas to taste at the Tequila Expo 2008, and I imagine the prices on the real expensive stuff like a Don Julio Real would be reasonable, maybe next year.My favorites of the year are the AhaToro anejo for my go to sipper, Esperanto for a beautiful bottle and a serious tequila to fill it, and Bracero, the $25 anejo that will amaze.I'm also enjoying 300 Anos reposado Bacanora from Sonora with its Mezcal like notes.Don Eduardo anejo is drinking well for me lately, and is very easy to replace.Haven't found a silver to outshine my Tapatio blanco, though.In general, the tequilas of the highlands of Jalisco, especially Arandas are consistently the best.

All I can say is, where were all of you?Did anyone else go?KR, stopped by for a minute but couldn't stick around.The food was great, the mariachis, and the tequilas,Uf!I've been crossing the border every other week practically and am happy to say that the scariest thing I encountered was the Oro y Plata tasting, for those with apprehension over recent news.Walking across has been pretty speedy I might add.

See you next October

Tres Tonos
http://www.flickr.com/photos/15437927...

"Si Amance, Nos Vamos" "Ya, Vayanse chamucos!!!"
http://www.flickr.com/photos/15437927...

Grabbed my Volcan de Mi Tierra for $15
http://www.flickr.com/photos/15437927...

Tequila con Vibora
http://www.flickr.com/photos/15437927...

Clase Azul and La Pinta(pomegranate with tequila)at the Clase Azul booth
http://www.flickr.com/photos/15437927...

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  1. Wanted to know if anyone went to this event and get their feedback.Also, I'd like to hear from the tequila fans out there in general.What are you drinking these days, and what new finds do you have?What are your best tequilas of the year?

    1. Thank you for the report. I actually heard about it on NPR (I think it was on show called The World a few weeks ago). They mentioned that there was a overall winner - do you recall that? And Patron wasn't there??

      I can't contribute much to what kind of tequila I am drinking since my parents are from Guadalajara and have many, many unopened tequila bottles at home in SF that they have received as gifts over the years. I am trying to work my way through their stash. Currently, I am drinking from an old bottle (10 - 15 years old?) of Herradura anejo. I think Herradura has gone downhill in the past few years though, or so I hear.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Mari

        Hey Mari.I didn't find out the overall winner, but I will ask my good friend Gilberto Leyva of Leyva's Licores in TJ.

        Yup, no Patron.They are far too big and successful to show up for this event.Too bad:)

        Oye Tapatia, Herradura is still good these days.How is your extra anejo?I just had some Herradura down in Leon this past weekend and it was as good as ever.When the tequila list is short, I can always count on Herredura Anejo.I have the Selecion Suprema at home, which is divine.If it has gone down hill, I wish I could be there to get at your 15 year old bottle, must be nice.

        Let me know what else you dig out of your stash.My wife picked up a bottle of Abandonado reposado for me tonight, and I must say it is pretty nice.Sweet upfront flavors and bouquet, and a pleasant burn in the chest.

      2. Great report! I enjoyed this a lot. I'm a tequila novice and look forward to referring to this post for your commentary the next time I shop for or drink tequila.

        1. Thanks for the report! I definitely do not want to miss this next year. I used to have a tequila collection long ago but we drank it all :( My go to tequila is Herreradura Anejo.

          What’s your take on EL Tesoro? I think that stuff has Hallucinogenic properties.

          The food looks great also.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Masa Assassin

            Herradura anejo is a benchmark tequila.I know what you mean, I just have enough bottles so that I can't deplete my stock so easily, and I rotate my sipping to spread the damage around.

            El Tesoro,hmm, let me see....................(sip), yes it is delicious! Balanced, soft sweet fruit flavors, and a mild burn, without any cloying syrup .I'm convinced that nothing bad comes from Arandas, the great tequila pueblo in the Jalisco highlands.La Altena distillery that produces El Tesoro also makes Tapatio, another magnificent brand.Their silver is my favorite with its rich,smokiness.

            Yes, Tequila Expo 2009, we are there.

          2. On Friday night I was at an event where there was a representative from Hacienda serving the whole line of Sotol, the agave spirit from Chihuahua,Mexico.They had H5, the new 5 year aged anejo Sotol, smooth, distintive, and delicious.I had about 8 samples, full shots!! Look for this, the best Sotol I've had to date.

            Volcan de Mi Tierra anejo.This tequila from the Expo that I pcked is emerging to be the most interesting tequila I've bought this past year.Tasting after tasting with friends and fellow tequileros has confirmed my original reaction.A truly unique flavor profile.Look for this tequila when you are in Mexico until it arrives here.

            1. I just received a bottle of the Alma de Mujer. It absolutely can be sipped, its very mellow. I have a shot chilling in the freezer, and I'm anxious to see if it brings a bit more bite to the spirit, or if it will maintain that smoothness I get from it at room temp. But, so far I definitely have to say its a great tequila! I'm glad I found someone else with a fondess for it. I'm anxious to try a few more you listed as excellent, thanks for the tip.

              4 Replies
              1. re: fuzzyrabidpanda

                Does anyone have a link with when this will be in 2009? Where to buy tickets?

                1. re: jeremyn

                  It will be in October from the 14th through the 18th.Pay at the door on Revolucion at about 7th.It's a tent that goes about a block or two.Last year it was $60MXP, which is about $4.60USD right now, not bad!

                2. re: fuzzyrabidpanda

                  Great, it's a nice one to have in the collection.I believe it would be a good one to have chilled, let me know.I recently purchased the Chamucos reposado, which was even better than when I had it at the Expo.It;s brilliant.Also, I picked up the Azcona silver, which has an interesting flavor profile, really enoying it.

                  1. re: streetgourmetla

                    Initially, first taste, out of the freezer the Con Alma is still smooth, but expect that famous tequila bite at the end. I think next time i will chill my glass, and leave the tequila room temperature. And, for those of you that like your tequila cold, this is lower proof tequila, so it does form ice, i would not suggest you put the entire bottle in the freezer. Still a great spirit to have in your arsenal when you are looking for something to sip on and really enjoy, as opposed to mix or shoot.

                3. Hi,
                  Loved your article, very informative. I bought a Tequila in Playa del Carmen and it was called Pechocha a very delicious Tequila and one that is very enjoyable to drink neat--my wife loves it and so do my friends. No one in the state of Washington has ever had anything this good and tops all the high end Tequilas that can be found in our liquor stores. You mentioned the distillery LETICIA HERMOSILLO RAVELERO and that is who makes this Tequila. I have tried to find out how to get a hold of them and have had no luck. What I would like to know is where I can buy this in the states and if I can't, what Tequila in the states would be comparable. Thanks for any help you can give me.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: MontanaSpokane

                    Haven't see this one in the states yet, it is almost rumlike in its sweetness. I liked this one.

                    I can get this in Tijuana, where I go monthly. I always bring back stuff I can't get here. Volcan de Mi Tierra is another one to check out.

                    1. re: streetgourmetla

                      Hi,

                      I found Los Osuno at K & L Wine Merchants in CA--

                      1. re: streetgourmetla

                        thanks for all the information. I found a site called lovescotch.com that has about 40 pages of Tequila--all seem reasonable priced and with reasonable S&H charges

                        1. re: MontanaSpokane

                          Thanks for the heads up, and good for you.

                          Wow, Los Osuna here in the US? Amazing!

                          1. re: streetgourmetla

                            Propitious timing. I'm sipping an Antiguo reposado, all agave, for 22 bucks? Any backstory I should know?

                            1. re: Veggo

                              This is a made by Herradura, and very popular in Mexico as a mixer over Sauza and JC. This and Jimador. I wouldn't call this one a sipper, although it is sipable. It's available at all the OXXO's in Mexico(like a Mexican AM/PM) and used to make palomas.

                              Perfect for a 2AM OXXO run when you are entertaining at your hotel:)