Bottling the heart of a spirited tradition.
by Marcy Harris
I am probably not alone when I say I’ve had to grow into my appreciation of tequila. I chalk it up to bad choices in college. After a few regrettable occasions of imbibing a little too much at parties, it took me years to venture into trying it again. Luckily by that point I knew people who could introduce me to really good stuff. I attended tequila tastings through work, and began to truly enjoy the depth of flavor offered by the agave plant.
So when our beverage specialist, Kim Green, brought in a new artisanal tequila, I was super excited to try it. The way she described it, the Clase Azul Reposado is a sipping tequila. Vastly different than my experience with shooting it as quickly as possible with lemon and salt.
Go ahead and lose the shaker of salt.
While tequila has often been enjoyed as shots in a celebratory setting, there is now a trend to slow down and savor the integrity of the spirit. Tequila offers a depth of character with beautiful flavors that develop from the blue agave plant. Many of the best tasting tequilas are produced from this plant, grown in the highlands of Los Alto, in the Jalisco region of Mexico. Clase Azul is among those.
Just like with wine, the flavor of tequila starts with terroir. The blue agave in Los Altos grows at a higher elevation, leading to more sunlight, which in turn leads to more residual sugars. As a result, you get a smoother tequila with more tropical fruit flavors. Clase Azul tequila is created using only 100% organic Tequilana Weber Blue agaves – the only kind of agave out of 200 varieties that produces tequila.
Once harvested, the hearts of the agave used for Clase Azul, the piña, are cooked in old-fashioned brick ovens for 72 hours. They are then crushed, carefully fermented with a proprietary yeast, then distilled twice to establish the quality of the tequila.
Like a fine wine…
Once the tequila has been fermented and distilled, it can then be aged. There are several classifications of tequila, and there are three types in particular that represent distinct characteristics determined by the aging process. Blanc is unaged, reposado is aged in oak barrels from 2 months to a year, and añejo is aged in oak barrels for 1 to 3 years.
Just like aging wine or a bourbon in oak barrels, aging tequila results in a unique array of flavors. Sometimes it can even be aged in a combination of barrels made of different types of oak to offer blended complexity. The Clase Azul Reposado is aged in carefully selected barrels for 8 months. The finished liquor is a mesmerizing amber color, with a silky smooth body. The notes are woody, fruity, vanilla, and toffee caramel.
A benevolent spirit.
This tequila is so unique and special, of course it deserves to be housed in art! The decanters used for all of the tequilas produced by Clase Azul are hand-molded from clay and hand-painted by the Mazahua natives in the small village of Santa María Canchesda. Just over 100 artisans create one precious bottle at a time.
According to Clase Azul, “Starting from the bottom of the bottle, the spiral appliqué on unfired clay symbolizes the earth’s fertility. When the earth comes in to contact with water, represented by a fine blue line, it gives life to the agave. Once the agave has reached its optimal ripeness and is jimado (“harvested”), the treasured heart of the agave is obtained.”
In addition to containing the tequila, the bottles comprise the México a Traves del Tiempo bottle collection. This collection is sold along with many other hand-painted pieces to help support the artisanal community in Mexico. This is all done through the non-profit part of Clase Azul. The charity uses the proceeds from the sales of these beautiful pieces to protect the cultural development of artisans who cannot afford the resources to continue their craft. As a result, a long standing art and tradition is preserved.
The Roadhouse is honored to include the Clase Azul Reposado among its collection of spirits. It is perfect to savor during the summer days out on our patio, offering a lingering warmth on the palate. Each sip offers a taste of art, of commitment to quality, and the heart of tradition.