Saturday, March 21, 2015

Tequila El Viejito 1937 Plata NOM 1107 (37% Abv.)

Indalecio Nunez Muro founded the El Viejito distillery sometime around 1937 in the town of Atotonlico, the "highlands" region of the state of Jalisco. A region of land that many claim to have the best soil, water and altitude to grow the agave. It's NOM 1107 or distillery designation has graced the labels of such brands as Porfidio and Las Trancas - although thanks to the convoluted CRT Norma this doesn't necessarily mean that this tequila was produced here but perhaps the distillery was exporting the product. Yes, distilled tequila can be sourced from other distilleries. Which leads to an interesting tidbit that El Viejito distillery has supplied contract tequila to many major brands including Cabo Wabo and Patron tequila back in the day. Supposedly Tequila el Viejito, S.A. de C.V. once supplied up to fifty percent of what Patron bottled, distributed and sold in the United States. Then in the mid 2000s Patron approached the Nunez family and made an offer to purchase the distillery. The family decided to sell because they felt the location was inconvenient and they could relocate the distillery to a more ideal spot. The "new" El Viejito distillery in Atotonlico was built sometime in 2007 - Norma regulations do not require one to take a new NOM number - therefore, the family was able to transfer the NOM 1107 over to their new facility. Patron continued to source tequila from the new El Viejito up until around 2012, but the contract is now over and the new El Viejito distillery is no longer supplying them. Of course Patron eventually built a state of the art distillery and perhaps continues to operate the old El Viejito distillery in Atotonlico to meet the world's demand for Patron tequila. The Patron thing is another story entirely and I highly suggest you do some research on it for yourself.

The ripened mature blue agave is harvested from the highlands region. No clue if the agave is estate grown and/or sourced from farmers selling on the open market. Depending on size the harvested agave is halved/quartered and steam-cooked in brick ovens in a two step process. First for roughly 17+ hours, allowed to rest, then cooked for another 12+ hours. Thereby breaking down the long chemical structure of the sugars into simple sugars - desirable for the fermentation process.

Once the cooking and cooling phase is complete the cooked agave is transported by a conveyor belt to the mechanical roller mills. The cooked agave fibres pass through and are pressed between rollers - the pressing action is complimented with the injection of water in strategic locations optimizing sugar extraction. The water source is from an estate well that is filtered with reverse osmosis and run though a softening process to remove excess minerals. It must be noted that the distillery recycles the bagazo as compost later on being used as a natural fertilizer.

The resulting mosto is pumped over to the fermentation tanks. Fermentation takes place in the distillery's large semi-enclosed stainless steel tanks (37000L capacity) with the aid of the distillery's proprietary yeast formula.

Once the fermentation is complete the next step is the double distillation process with the distillery's four large stainless steel pot stills with copper condenser coils (4 910L capacity Alambiques). The first distillation of the mosto results in a ordenario with an alcohol concentration of 25-28% - the solid particles, part of the water, some heads and tails are removed - leaving mostly the middle section or the heart of the distillate. In the second distillation the ordenario is distilled reaching an alcohol concentration of 55% - a more refined product as the heads and tails are removed once again - being discarded with stillage and ends up at the compost area like the bagazo - and the heart of the distillate results as the tequila blanco. El Viejito has a 55% Abv. Blanco offering so assume that this is filtered and bottled for commercial purposes while the other Blanco offerings are filtered and diluted to desired proof. Then there there is the aging - no idea at what proof the Blanco is when placed in the barrels and rested months and/or years for El Viejito's Reposado, Anejo and Extra Anejo offerings **Note - apparently El Viejito has large stainless holding tanks on site generally maintained at fifty percent capacity where each new batch of Blanco, Reposado, Anejo and Extra Anejo is blended with previous batches.

Appearance: Colorless and crystal clear. Long uniform slow legs in my Riedel glass. Aroma: Mild agave intensity, floral (hibiscus?) and citrus. Flavour: Earthy agave, some honey-like sweetness, hints of orange peel, spiciness (white pepper?), and mild smokiness. Semi-oily on entry with some minerality and alcohol in the back of the mouth. Nice mild heat in the mouth that leaves a subtle numbing sensation on the gums and palate. Surprisingly well balanced. Finish: Enjoyable medium finish, cooked agave notes, spicy pepper that lingers and hint of alcohol. A great sipping Blanco tequila that I savoured during my latest House of Cards binge watching marathon. This was the first offering that I've ever knowingly had the chance to try from NOM 1107 and now would like to try the whole El Viejito lineup. Don Indalecio passed away in 1982. So glad that his family carried on with his tradition and continues producing great old-school tequila. **RECOMMENDED**

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