For anyone who’s taken a shot of tequila, that sharp burning in your esophagus is all too familiar. A squeeze of lime straight from the rind is the only salve capable of ending the ephemeral pain—or so you might have been led to believe. Good tequila, in fact, is not supposed to taste acrid or bitter, but rather smooth and sweet. The problem? Tequila on this side of the Mexican border is packed with additives, forever altering the taste of the spirit.
Related Reading: What Is the Difference Between Tequila and Mezcal?
But Kristopher DeSoto is here to change all of that with his tequila company Hiatus Tequila. Kristopher, who grew up in Texas with Cuban roots, was often shepherded between home and Mexico, as his parents did business in the country. During these trips, acquiring bottles of tequila was the norm. Kristopher fondly remembers it being the primary alcohol in the home—and it was a far superior product compared to what most families in the States were drinking at the time.
“[My parents] were bringing back tequila that was different than what you’d find on this side of the border,” Kristopher says.
At the time, he was too young to appreciate the nuances of Mexican versus American tequila, but years later when he was living in New York City, he noticed how popular tequila and mezcal had become. Mixologists were swirling the spirits into cocktails in new and creative ways—but the tequila found in the states was nothing like what he was accustomed to drinking.
“It didn’t represent what I thought of as tequila,” Kristopher says. “Somebody needed to do something about it, so I decided to start my own brand.”
The result is Hiatus Tequila, a spirits company that showcases the best form of what Mexicans would actually call tequila. At Hiatus Tequila, which is produced in the Mexican city of Tequila, eschews additives for a natural distillation and fermentation process. Kristopher explains that in an effort to make tequila sweeter, many of the spirits companies throw in additives to better appeal to a North American palate. These additives—which run the gamut from sugar to glycerin—ultimately transform the tequila, creating something, that, for example, makes it taste more aged than it is or gives it a silky feel in your mouth.
“You end up with something that’s a very bastardized version of what tequilas are meant to represent, which is the agave plant,” Kristopher says.
Instead of opting for additives, Hiatus Tequila relies on showcasing the natural flavor from the agave and the earth—a process many authentic tequilas also focus on. Kristopher explains that if you stripped down the many tequilas—and spirits in general—found on store shelves and really understood what was in them, you’d invariably make a different decision about not only what you’d want to purchase, but also what you want to put in your body.
When it comes to actually drinking good tequila, Kristopher always encourages people to simply try it neat at room temperature, allowing you to really understand what it tastes like. If you’ve got your hands on good tequila, you can just sip it, but Kristopher knows not everyone’s going to be into that experience. So if you need to add a little something more to your glass, swirl a bit of tequila with sparkling soda and finish it off with a twist of lemon. That’s all you’ll need to guarantee tasting the tequila.
Speaking of tasting, Hiatus Tequila offers three different types of tequila—blanco, reposado, and añejo—which all boast a wealth of diverging flavors. A sip of blanco is rather bright and light, with some hints of tropical fruit marbled with roasted agave. It’s ideal for easy sipping, or swirled into a cocktail.
On the other end of the spectrum is the añejo, which is aged for a year in whiskey barrels, giving it a much more heavier and earthy feel. You might taste dried herbs and spices. It’s definitely the bottle you’ll want to reach for on those dismally cold winter nights.
The final bottle sitting squarely in the middle is the reposado, which rests for only 6 months in whiskey barrels. The result is a beverage that’s a mix of dark and light flavors: roasted pepper and cinnamon, hazelnut and vanilla, silky and sweet. Toss it into spiced, mulled cocktails during the fall months, or simply nurse a heavy-bottomed glass filled with it as the leaves turn from yellow to brown.
Even for those who have had a bona fide bad experience with tequila—whether you simply don’t like the taste or had one too many margaritas that fateful night—and haven’t touched a bottle since, Kristopher promises that pouring a glass of Hiatus Tequila might manage to change your mind.
“Of course they were drinking an $8 bottle of tequila that was served in plastic,” he says with a laugh. “But we’re converting people back to tequila.”
Header image courtesy of Hiatus Tequila.