Ever since my initial foray into the world of blogging and food media I've watched the odd fascination with mediocre drink from both the foodists and bartenders alike. Every brand ambassador that peddles their wares is treated as some sort of prophet of things to come. Never mind that any tequila or spirit with a brand ambassador is a dead giveaway for corporate swill. The 76 trombones never arrive!! What has arrived is a false calibration of the consumer's taste for non-traditional tequilas marketed straight to the US market. Some of these are good drinks, but they don't honor the true nature of the agave, and of Mexican tequila conventions.
I care not for stories, nor production traditions when it comes to spirits--one of my favorite tequilas is cooked in an autoclave, and the agaves are crushed by a machine. I find magic in both artisan and semi-artisan productions of tequila, so spare me your jackass-drawn-stone-grinder brochure, because it's what's in the bottle. Taste first and ask questions later is what we say here at the T.I.T(Tequila Institute of Technology). There are only two members right now--myself and fellow tequilero Chuy Tovar. We've drunk it all and are constantly vetting my 70+ bottle collection, and when not doing that we drink tequilas we haven't tried.
I first discovered Tequila Tapatio at a lonely hotel bar somewhere in the highlands of Jalisco--it was one of 7 tequila bottles on the shelf. It was love at first sip. There are drinks in your life(if you be a romantic)that take over your senses, both playing rhapsodic melodies to your pleasure centers while transporting you to another place. Tapatio Blanco's flavors dance all over your mouth with earthiness, light smoke, and the natural sugars of the agave--you need keep it in your mouth and enjoy the changing sensations as the temperature of the drink warms on your tongue. I sat at that bar and drank two double shots of Tapatio blanco's over the course of an hour without a care in the world.
I didn't need to research or hear a pitchman's dull tales to know that this was a special tequila. I've had a bottle on me ever since. I looked at a bottle on the shelf a few months back and noticed a newer labeling on its blanco that had me somewhat concerned. What's up? I thought to look at the label, but was too afraid to face the possibility--corporate acquisition!
My Facebook rant got picked up by the LA Weekly when I discovered that Tapatio was coming to the US, and all the same bartenders that had embraced every other tale about every other beverage were now celebrating the arrival of a tequila that most of them never heard of, but this time their enthusiasms would be justified.
A cantina is Arandas, where Tapatio is a local hero
I even spoke to Susan Karakasevic of Charbay on the phone who assured me that master distiller Carlos Camarena would make the same beverage that Tapatio has always made, and that their distribution would stay small and manageable.
That's great news for us two guys who really enjoy tequila as a lifestyle. For the bartenders and food media--yes, this is for real and after one sip you're all gonna be connoisseurs. Let Tapatio's bonafide tequila tradition re-calibrate your taste. This is the only tequila tradition I respect--that of tequila TASTE. But, Tapatio is a semi-artisanal production(all tequila production has some industrialization)--the agaves are cooked in a brick oven, and crushed by a tahona(stone wheel). The fermentation takes place in wooden barrels at Arandas' famous La Altena distillery.
Tequila Tapatio blanco is now available in the U.S--taste the flavor of old Mexico slowly one sip at atime in a cognac snifter, which is the only way to appreciate all this drink has to offer. Bienvenidos old friend.