Fork It: Olmeca Altos

The good folks from Olmeca Altos were kind enough to invite me to a tasting at VITA with their master distiller, Jesus Hernandez. I like tequila, but I’ve never been one to sit and sip a glass of it straight. I shoot it, with salt and lime, or I have it in a margarita. Jesus started by telling us about the philosophy behind their tequila. He said they were trying to really bring out the agave flavor, by preparing it in “the old way,” hand roasted in large ovens. Also, they wanted to make a tequila with bartenders in mind: something ideal for mixing, but not too expensive. What we were about to try was the result of two years of labor, because they had grown over 60% of the agave themselves. He even gave us a quick overview of the terroir of agave. He described the agave flavors from highlands (“Altos” or altitude) agave they used as, “more feminine, progressive, sweeter and more floral.”

Under the watchful eye of Jesus we tried four different Blanco tequila’s, and two Reposados. Blanco is clear and unaged, Reposado gains its color from at least 2 months of aging, and Añejo must be aged for at least a year. Jesus asked us to describe them, and people threw around some suspiciously effete words for flavors, like “vegetal, barnyard,” and, “astringent.” A charming publicist at the table said some of the tequilas reminded her of petroleum, or rubbing alcohol. A fellow writer across the table stuck her tongue out more than once. With the exception of the first Blanco and Reposado we tried, I wouldn’t really have wanted to sip any of these. I think tequila is best sampled in the presence of lime. But, I was presently surprised to find out that the ones I liked actually were Olmeca. I had never participated in a blind taste test, but it really sold me. I tried each glass without prejudice and theirs was the best. The Olmeca had a long, delicate finish. It wasn’t too salty or painfully alcoholic. Not only that, but they put themselves up against some decent competition: el Jimador, 1800 (my stand-by, which I was able to identify by taste!), Cazadores, and even Patrõn! After all the tasting they told us the price: $23.99 for the Blanco, and $25.99 for the reposado.

Upstairs they had a rockin’ party with free tequila cocktails. I have more than a few, and loved them. Let me share the recipes with you here.

Altos Margarita (a simple but delicious margarita)

  • 2 parts Olmeca Altos tequila
  • 1 part orange liqueur
  • 3/4 part lime juice
  • Optional: salt

Verde Fizz (Just make this. It’s great and your friends will be impressed. Use a shaker set.)

  • 2 parts Olmeca Altos tequila
  • 1/2 part green Chartreuse
  • 1/2 part fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 part fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 part agave nectar or simple syrup
  • a dash or orange bitters
  • 1 egg white
  • top with club soda, garnish with orange twist

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