Spirits & Liqueurs Tequila & Mezcal

9 Bartenders Discover the Right Way to Make Tequila

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You can’t fake your way into making premium tequila. You need to go through a painstaking process, with an obsessive eye for technique, to create tequila as good as Casa Noble. Using organic agave and sustainable production methods raises the level of difficulty further.

The best bartenders share this commitment to craft. Which is why Casa Noble and Liquor.com invited nine highly acclaimed bartenders to Mexico for a close look at how to make, and experience, tequila the right way.

Casa Noble’s guests arrived from all over the United States. Charles Joly (co-founder of Crafthouse Cocktails) and Caitlin Laman (beverage manager of Ace Hotel in Chicago) came from the Windy City. Miami’s John Lermayer (Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company) and legendary cantinero Julio Cabrera joined them in Guadalajara. Flying in from New York City were Joaquín Simó (partner at Pouring Ribbons) and Maxime Batard (bar director at Saxon + Parole).

This group of cutting-edge cocktail makers was rounded out by Jacques Bezuidenhout (partner at Forgery and Wildhawk in San Francisco), Chris Bostick (co-owner and creative director at Half Step in Austin) and Yael Vengroff (bar director at The Spare Room in Los Angeles).

Because these bartenders work in different cities, it’s rare for them to have the opportunity to just hang out and enjoy one another’s company. The chance to kick back with peers they respect, while enjoying a tequila they love, had each member excited as they sat down for dinner at a cozy, authentic barrio-style restaurant. The old-school environment and camaraderie among the bartenders set the tone for the rest of the trip.

The purpose of the trip was to explore the right ways to make tequila—not just Casa Noble—so the first distillery the bartenders visited was Fortaleza. This wasn’t your average distillery tour. The bartenders dove deep into the process, learning about often-overlooked steps like separating the agave fibers from the mosto. The guests tasted the product right off the still to experience how a thorough process leads to better tequila.

After the tour through Fortaleza, the group met up with some local bartenders for a talk and tasting. The Mexican bartenders paired Casa Noble with a series of fermented beverages made from corn and cocoa. Then it was off to the main attraction, the Casa Noble distillery.

The distillery isn’t only where Casa Noble is made; it’s also where the nine bartenders stayed. Located on the distillery grounds is Matices Hotel de Barricas, a one-of-a-kind place. The breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains isn’t the only stunning aspect of the hotel. The elegant rooms are built in the shape of tequila barrels, where the bartenders felt right at home.

The bartenders may have been tempted to linger in the gorgeous rooms, but there was a special night planned. The group gathered around a fire pit to enjoy live music and Casa Noble under the stars. There was an incredible dessert spread featuring locally made cheeses and traditional Mexican hot chocolate.

The biggest hit was probably the fresh churros, made to order by a woman with decades of experience. The churros were delicate yet packed with flavor, created with a care and freshness that put them in a different category than the ones you find in the States. It goes to show the difference experience and craft can make, whether your specialty is churros or tequila.

The goodwill carried into the next day, when it was finally time for the Casa Noble distillery experience. After stopping at the water treatment and composting facilities, the bartenders were well-versed in Casa Noble’s commitment to sustainability. David Yan, Casa Noble’s brand ambassador, took it further by speaking about the lengthy process that goes into Casa Noble’s organic certification.

One of the biggest perks of the distillery experience, and the trip in general, was the opportunity to sit with Casa Noble founder and maestro tequilero José “Pepe” Hermosillo. The bartenders sampled six añejo barrels, learning how each barrel uniquely affects the tequila resting inside.

The bartenders then received a more hands-on education when they made their own signature blend of Casa Noble. Based on their personal taste and what they learned from Pepe about ratios and flavor combinations, each bartender made a custom blend using tequila from the six añejo barrels. “I feel like a master blender right now,” Julio Cabrera said, after his blend was bottled and given to him.

Cabrera’s comment speaks to what the bartenders took away from the trip, which was far more than their own custom blend of Casa Noble. Each guest would be leaving with a deeper understanding of tequila and a greater appreciation for those who make it the right way. When the bartenders return home, they will be thinking more like master blenders. And that can only improve the tequila cocktails they create.