|Carlos Camarena |
(Bill Dowd photo)
The 75-year-old brand is including its 110-proof Tapatio Blanco, available only in the U.S., in the portfolio of Tapatio-branded spirits.
Since 1937, Tequila Tapatio has been distilled by the Carlos Camarena family from estate-grown blue agaves in the Arandas Highlands of Mexico, using the family's traditional methods and small-batch distillation that date to the 1800s.
Back in 2007, I was invited to take part in a 70th anniversary party at the distillery in Arandas, getting an opportunity to spend some time with Camarena, who also makes the El Tesoro line. His intensity in every phase of the operation showed great care in creating new spirit expressions.
The Tequila Tapatio collection (with suggested retail prices for the one-liter bottles):
• Tequila Tapatio Blanco (aged 6 months in stainless steel), $34.
• Tequila Tapatio Reposado (aged 8 months in aged oak barrels) $38.
• Tequila Tapatio Añejo (aged 18 months in first-fill ex-bourbon casks), $44.
• Tequila Tapatio 110-Proof Blanco (aged 6 months in stainless steel), $48.
“Since tequila consists of water, alcohol and flavors, reduce the water and you’ve increased the alcohol and flavors,” explains Marko Karakasevic, Master Distiller of Charbay Distillers. “B110 has huge florals and spicy cinnamon, plus chamomile and rich agave.”
The agaves are selected for ripeness and slow-baked for four days. After being shredded and run through a modified sugar cane mill for de-juicing, the agave "mosto" is fermented in small wooden fermenters using their proprietary 75-year-old yeast culture. The "mosto muerte" (fermented mosto) then is distilled in a stainless alambique still, which produces "ordinario." It then is distilled in copper alambiques pot stills before aging.
By the way, don't be confused about the name Camarena. There is a tequila that bears that name, but Carlos Camarena isn't involved in it. In the Camarena family lineage, three generations ago there were three Camarena brothers, each of whom founded a tequila company of his own -- El Tesoro, Cazadores and Casa Casco Viejo, the latter of which was renamed Casa Camarena. They are separate business entities.