First and foremost, I consider myself a “wine guy” and I pursue my craft with passion and dedication. But, I do have another love and that is the nectar of the agave plant, the holiest of all holy beverages, TEQUILA! This affair started when I was living in the Mission District of San Fransisco in the 1970s where I would sit in Dolores Park listening to the Latin drummers. They passed around this magical elixir, Herradura Anejo and I was enchanted with it right from the start. When I picked grapes in the Napa Valley, I would always find solace at the end of a back-breaking day with my Mexican co-workers, sharing their cuisine and tequila. Since then, I’ve indulged in my fair share of all things tequila and I love it as much now as I did then. My wife says she feels its warmth right between her eyes and I have to agree.
Boston is now awash with tequila bars, for which I have mixed emotions. Tequila deserves to be nursed and understood rather than disrespected and commercialized. Thankfully, there are a few that do just that and treat their tequila with reverence. One of my favorite summer recipes, as I have shared
with you before when I shared my story about serving this margarita to my friend Julia Child, is muddling fresh watermelon, then putting it in a shaker with limes (maybe an orange too), Citronage Orange Liqueur and a top flight silver tequila. Patron or Chinaco were always my first choices, but now Tequila Ocho has entered the top of the list as well. Garnish the finished drink with a watermelon slice, and as Jackie Gleason would say, “And away we go!”
Don’t be afraid to start your exploration of tequila’s different styles…just make sure you do it with reverence and restraint, and hopefully with just the right cuisine.
So this is what I learned about Tequila Ocho today at our tasting. It is estate grown, not unlike wine, and Tequila Ocho demonstrates that “terroir” exists in agave. They demonstrate this annually with new vintages drawn from single estates at varying altitudes in Arandas, Jalisco, ensuring each vintage is distinct in aroma and flavor. Since each estate, or “rancho,” produces a limited amount of agave, each vintage of Ocho is both rare and collectible. Every bottle is hand numbered. Ocho, unlike many other tequila producers, only harvest their agaves from each estate only 8-10 years because they believe that a extra ripe plants produce a more complex tequila. They are right.
We had the privilege of trying Plata, Reposado, and Anejo from Tequila Ocho. Although my favorite was the Reposado, the Plata and Anejo were smooth and delicious as well. Plata has no aging, the Reposado spend only 8 weeks resting in oak barrels, and the Anejo-a year because Ocho believes in limited amount of aging. I wish more tequila makers had the same beliefs because what Ocho is producing is a cut above the rest.
More pictures for you to enjoy: