What could possibly be better then combining great food with one of the best spirits Mother Earth has given us: Mezcales. The kind people looking after Tequila Ocho, Don Julio Tequila and, Del Maguey Mezcal and Ilegal Mezcal in Holland decided do organize an event with exactly those ingredients. Combined with friends of course.
One thing about this is truly remarkable: these are 4 competing brands from 4 competing distributors, organizing an event together. They realise that in order to be a category, they need to create one first. That’s how it should be done.
Hosts for the evening were Herman van der Meij (Brand Ambassador for Don Julio), Thomas Forster & Oscar Steginga (brand activators for Tequila Ocho) and Tomás Estes (Tequila Ambassador & founder of Tequila Ocho) and the stage was set in Dvars, a new cocktailbar in Amsterdam by Andrew Nichols. Enough name-dropping for now, how was the food and, more importantly, how were the drinks!
We were welcomed with a nice mix of Don Julio Reposado & Fever Tree Ginger Ale with fresh lime, a very nice starter and a well-balanced drink. It’s a longdrink, so no rocket-science: mix 35 ml of the Don Julio with 150 ml Ginger Ale, loads of icecubes and a wedge of fresh lime. The drinks were accompanied by melonsticks soaked in Tequila Ocho, off to a good start!
The dinner consisted of 3 parts and the starter was a Sangrita, a mix-it-yourself drink that dates back to the 1920’s in Mexico. People there used to collect the left-over juice from fruit salads and drink it with a glass of tequila. The drink is coloured bright red, but please note: there shouldn’t be any tomato in it! It takes it’s colour from the fine pepper powder, spices and pomegranate with sweetend orange or limejuice. It was served with a vanilla & pear syrup created in-house and both the Ocho Blanco and Reposado were on the table to try it with.
Tequila Ocho uses very ripe agaves that sometimes even have started to ferment while still growing. After cutting them, they are fermented in a 700-litre open top pine barrel where a so-called igniter is used to start the fermentation (as opposed to spontaneous fermentation where you let nature decide fully on how it will ferment).
After that, the mash is distilled in 300 litre potstills. The distillate is not filtered through carbon, nor chill-filtered, leaving loads of flavours in the drink. The result is a nice and smokey taste, that is still very crisp. Ripe fruit and fresh citrus with lots of agave and some earthy and peppery notes in the finish.
Next up we had the Don Julio, from which we could try the blanco, the reposado and the anejo to see which one would match the next course: a cucumber-coriander wrap with mezal marinated beef. Don Julio González learned to make tequila around 1932 and he started producing his own in 1942. He made his first tequilas for friends only, but when his spirits became better-known he started to produce more. The agaves that are used for Don Julio contain at least 23% sugar, resulting in a full bodied, yet round flavour – accessible for the beginner yet challenging for the discerning drinker. Don Julio ferments the agaves for about 24 hrs, after which a potstill distillation gives length, a great mouthfeel and a silky taste.
The dessert was, well, the dessert, but more interestingly there was a nice table containing all tequila’s mentioned above, but also a few extra. There was the Don Julio 1942, a tequila that has been aged for a minimum of 2,5 years. It has a rich taste with dominating flavours of caramel and toffee, ripe tropical fruit and spices. Something completely different was the Del Maguey Vida, a single village Mezcal which is a handcrafted, unblended, double distilled mezcal from the Espadín Agave. The taste is full bodied and smokey, with hints of cinnamon, roasted agave and banana.
Mister Tomás Estes brought one special bottle with him, the Tequila Ocho Single Barrel Anejo, bottled at 54.8 % cask strenght. A true gem from his range with a wonderful palate.
I truly hope more events like this will be organized throughout the world and not only for Mezcales, but for other categories that need some more explanation to be fully understood and appreciated. A call to all brands, that they sometimes need eachother to create a market of appreciating consumers before that can start worrying about marketshare.