Tequila Extra Añejo
EL GUAPO, WHAT IS A CENOTE?
A cenote, pronounced seh-note-eh, is a natural sinkhole filled with crystal clear fresh water. They form when the porous limestone bedrock collapses and reveals an underground river system. Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is likely the best place on earth to see and experience a cenote.
The word is of Mayan origin and the cenote itself played a critical role in Mayan civilizations. For one, the lack of rivers in the Yucatan Peninsula meant that much of the area’s fresh water came from cenotes but it was much more than just a water supply. Mayans believed that cenotes were a portal to the underworld and if you’ve ever been diving in one, it’s easy to see why an ancient civilization would believe that. I remember being absolutely captivated by cenotes when as a child I visited the sacred cenote of Chichen Itza.
Cenote Tequila is owned and produced by Fabrica de Tequilas Finos in Tequila, Jalisco. Appropriate to the name, the distillery uses a local well as the water source for the tequila. Water plays an important role in the making of tequila. Once the agaves have been cooked to bring out the sugars in the agave hearts, it goes through an extraction process that involves crushing and tearing the cooked agaves. The mashed-up sugar-rich agave fibers are combined with the aforementioned well water and the resulting sweet liquid provides the base that will be fermented and later distilled.
The man at the head the process for Fabrica de Tequilas Finos is Arturo Fuentes. Despite having a name that sounds like a legendary cigar maker, this Arturo has over 42 years of experience in making tequila. He and his team oversee the production from the moment an agave is planted in the field until the last case of tequila leaves the warehouse.
Fabrica de Tequilas Finos was founded in 2000 by Federico Cabo and Luz Maria Cabo. This was their second distillery. They launched a number of tequila brands in 2001 including Don Camilo and La Prima de Pancho, which are still selling today. The Amber Beverage Group, which is part of Stoli Group, the international spirits powerhouse, acquired Fabrica de Tequilas Finos in 2016. The company seems to be investing wisely in the operation, recently adding a new copper pot still as well as a new high-speed bottler. The trick is always using technology to increase production and efficiency but never at the cost of quality. So far so good.
An añejo with a bright, golden color, it’s only slightly darker than most reposados and this is a good thing. Too often we see tequilas with an impossibly dark amber color that can only be obtained with artificial coloring. On the nose the Cenote has a well-balanced combination of vanilla bean, caramel, oak, and cooked agave while the palate delivers rich caramel, creamy vanilla, and oak tannins accompanied by a bit of mint and earth.
Cigar Pairing: EPC New Wave Connecticut
The EP Carrillo New Wave Connecticut is smooth and creamy with a balanced combination of pepper, vanilla, and cedar. The cigar brings out a toasty caramel note in the tequila that makes it difficult to stop taking sips. On the flip side, the tequila augments the cigar’s profile by cranking up the cedar and vanilla flavors to new heights, a deliciously complementary pairing.