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.
Oro y Plata
Atotonilco El Alto,Jal.
Alma de Mujer
Cava de Oro
Volcan de Mi Tierra
Quita Penas(Cd. Abasolo)Crema de tequila
El Agave(select agaves from the highlands of Jalisco)
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
"Si Amance, Nos Vamos" "Ya, Vayanse chamucos!!!"
Grabbed my Volcan de Mi Tierra for $15
Tequila con Vibora
Clase Azul and La Pinta(pomegranate with tequila)at the Clase Azul booth