How To Taste Tequila

“It’s a spirit I fell in love with, and it has such an unfair conception, misrepresentation."

So says Eric Brass, the Canadian CEO of Tequila Tromba – a man determined to change the way we think about tequila.  He says he too was once guilty of thinking of tequila as a spirit that requires you to "plug your nose and close your eyes and hope for the best.”  But these days things are very different.

Like all good entrepreneurs, Eric spent some time in Mexico as a business student and was working in finance when he had his lightbulb moment.  It went like this: cheap tequila is revolting, excellent tequila is expensive – why isn’t there any quality tequila in the middle?

“I saw people’s reactions when they tried good tequila and people would say, ‘This isn’t tequila, this is fantastic.’ And something inside of me wanted to drive that further - enough to quit that nice cushy job and delve into the tequila world,” Eric has said.

Like champagne, only tequila distilled in one of the five defined tequila specialist regions in Mexico is allowed to be sold under that name.   So Eric and two fellow tequila-loving Aussie mates he lived with in Mexico, Nick Reid and James Sherry, teamed up with one of Mexico’s most famous master distillers and set about creating a 100% blue agave tequila in the highlands of Mexico.

Having made his name as Master Distiller for Don Julio, Marco Cedano left his post there after 17 years to partner with Eric, Nick and James. Under Marco’s supervision, Tromba’s tequila is produced in very small batches in the famous agave-growing region of Jalisco where Marco has lived nearly all his life.

Tequila comes from the blue agave’s piña or core, but the plants take between eight and twelves years to ripen and can weigh up to 70kg by the time they’re fully mature.  When the time comes, the harvesting is left to a specialist jimadore who uses a traditional flat bladed ‘coa’ hoe to harvest the agave by hand.  The piñas are then steamed, and the extracted juice known as mosto is then fermented with yeast according to Marco’s specifications.  Finally, like all tequila, Tromba’s tequila is distilled twice before being bottled or aged.

While mescal and other cheaper tequila ‘mixtos’ are normally made up of 51% agave and 49% sugar cane distillate (and can taste something like paint stripper), pure agave tequila is subtle, smooth and can be sipped and appreciated in the manner of a fine whisky or wine. 

The same tasting criteria apply, too.  Tromba’s blanco tequila is bottled immediately, while its Reposado and Anejo are left to mature in American whisky oak barrels for a richer, fruitier flavour and darker amber colour.  As with wine, location, climate and soil play an integral part in any tequila’s overarching flavour.  The volcanic soil in the Mexican highlands and the ‘big rain’ after which the brand is named are both partially responsible for the light, citrusy flavour of all three Tromba tequilas.  Tequila made from agave grown in the low-lying valleys on the other hand has an earthier flavour.

Tromba has won silver at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition, second place at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge in New York, and best tequila at the Mediterranean Wine and Spirits competition.  Being so light and peppery makes it a perfect cocktail tequila and Tromba has started appearing on lists at bars like Mamasita, Movida, Touche Hombre and Amelia Shaw... which suggests that more and more of us are starting to understand what Eric has known all along. 

“Tequila is meant to be sipped and enjoyed. It’s a beautiful spirit.”

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Tequila Tromba's Blanco tequila is available here.

With help from The Agave Girl, Milk Bar Mag and TJT