Austria to meet Mexico in Germany. And no, this isn’t some undercard event for World Cup football. It is the birth of an exceptional tasting experience of a super premium boutique tequila. I didn’t (couldn’t) drink tequila for decades after an ill-advised and unpleasant experience. Just that tequila flavor wafting nearby took me back. But I am happy to say I am cured. It took a serendipitous romantic connection in Germany where an Austrian son-of-a-schnaps-maker went to study and met a fellow student, the Mexican daughter-of-a-tequila-lover. As these romances go, it was time to go to Mexico and meet her parents. And as these things go, her dad brought out a bottle of tequila to initiate his future son-in-law, HP Eder, into their Mexican way of life.
I have traveled and tasted and written about many types of spirits — bourbon, single malt whisky, vodka, rum, gin and many types of fortified (higher alcohol) wines. But I have never been asked to taste and discuss tequila until now, and what a beautiful experience. Eder had never tasted a well-made tequila in Europe and at the moment of his epiphany in Mexico, and with the old connections he had and new connections he quickly made, he felt confident he could create something special there.
I’ve never been much of a shot glass guy. I taste most things out of open and round wine or snifter glasses. Sake will often be served in a tiny ceramic mug, Champagne in flutes, tequila in shot glasses with some salt sprinkled on the back of your hand and a wedge of citrus. But give me a larger glass, let me swirl and taste, and swirl and taste again and I feel like the drink exposes itself to me. Initial flavors and then lesser, tertiary notes will become increasingly apparent.
At present, Pādre azul tequila makes three different tequilas, ranging in price from $75 to around $100. The Pādre azul Blanco is bottled directly after distillation. No oak aging is implemented so it is clear and pure blue agave-flavored. Agave is a tropical American plant that is the source of all tequilas. And, as with grapes, terroir matters. The soil, altitude, aspect and horticultural techniques all contribute to the final product. Also produced is the oak-aged Tequila Añejo and the Tequila Reposado. The Añejo is aged in used oak bourbon barrels for a minimum 18 months. The Tequila Reposado, which I tasted, is oak aged as well for a minimum of eight months.
So, Eder and his future wife started the process of exploring the finest tequilas, the finest agave fields, the best tequila makers, the best techniques and, of course, that all important money thing. They approached some Austrian buddies to partner up with some financing, and Eder incorporated his wife’s dad into the partnership. And his wife, Adrian Alvarez Maxemin, has a cousin who became the master distiller. I asked Eder via email what made Pādre azul tequila so special and “Super Premium”?
“The tequila is handcrafted and slow cooked in traditional ‘Mamposteria’ ovens for a minimum of 24 hours, with some resting time, in order to attain maximum flavor and is fermented slowly with naturally occurring yeasts, which can slow down the fermentation process and create a more complex flavor profile,” he said. “Even the bottle is handmade. The taste is one of a kind, due to the agave sourced carefully from the Valles (River region) and harvested at about eight years of age when they are perfectly ripe; the slow cooking process; and aging in hand selected oak barrels for longer than the standard requirements for aged tequila.”
I poured a glass for myself. I used a large wine glass, no ice, no fruit, no salt. I found it much like tasting a quality cognac or a premium rum. I wanted no camouflage of the flavors. Big swirls will fill your nose and draw you in with beautiful expansive and seductive layers. There were hints of chocolate carried by a backbone of citrus, with vanilla notes and coconut. There is a silkiness on the palate with a long finish.
This tequila is 100 percent handmade, 100 percent blue agave and 100 percent Mexican. It comes in at 40 percent alcohol, 80 proof, standard for most typical spirits. I wouldn’t use it as a mixer. I definitely wouldn’t shoot it “to start the party.” This spirit is one to own and one to share and savor when you just feel like something a little different. Look for it in its leather clad bottle with metal skull on top. It will get your attention at the store and on your shelf.
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