Tequila with a Master Tequilero

The concept of luxury travel with a focus on fine spirits, in this case tequila, is defined at Esperanza Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Esperanza was one of the first resorts to put Cabo San Lucas onto the map for discerning travelers 12 years ago, and introduce them to the concept of fine tequila sources from throughout Mexico.

With a naturally protected and private beach, and only one access point to the resort, Esperanza attracts both celebrity and society jetsetters alike. Among them — Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, Fergie and Josh Duhamel.

Esperanza continues to lead luxury resorts in the food and spirits market, not only due to its stunning cliffside setting overlooking the Sea of Cortez, but its constant laser refocusing on just what their guests may desire, such as guided tastings with a Master Tequilero.

Experience Tequila with a Master Tequilero

At Esperanza, Christian Moya is the resort’s certified Master Tequilero. Like a Master Sommelier of wine, a Master Tequilero is someone knowledgeable enough and passionate enough to take you through a new experience with tequila.  A Master Tequilero is able to explain every step of the history, tradition, production, and of course the epicurean experience of drinking tequila. Many have also dedicated their lives to selecting agaves, and are experts in handling the fermentation and distillation process of this regional spirit.

With more than 100 different tequila brands available at Esperanza, Moya does have his favorites. Don Fulano, Don Eduardo, Tres Generaciones by Sauza, Herradura, Realeza Mexicana, Arette and Reserva de la Familia by Jose Cuervo, are at the top of his well-researched list.

Not only does tequila have to be made in the Tequila, Mexico region, but Moya explains that the selection of agaves, the fermentation process and the distillation, are at the beginning of what makes great tequilas. “Of course using only 100% sugars from the blue agave is paramount,” Moya says.
Each night at Esperanza, Moya provides small groups of guests guided tastings, and answers questions while sipping a selection of fine tequilas from the Esperanza collection. While doing so, he walks them through the rich history and tradition of tequila in Mexico.

“Mexico gives you a very deep sense of place when you visit the country,” says Moya. “It’s full of flavor but also history and tradition. This sense of place is reflected in the tequila and its versatility. We have blanco, reposado, anejo, and extra anejo. All of them have something different, so we can say that there’s a tequila for every taste.”

Blanco, Reposado, Anejo

In blanco, or silver tequilas, Moya looks for smoky agave aromas along with mineral, floral and citrus notes, strong character and full flavor. These tequilas usually have less than two months of aging or are not aged at all.

Moya describes reposado, which is aged for two months up to a year, as the most subtle and more fragrant tequila, with a feminine character. The mouthfeel is smooth, with a slightly sweet flavor, along with smoky agave, some spice and a bit of oak. Aromas of vanilla, ripe fruit and caramel can be present. This style of tequila is the most gentle, Moya says, which is why reposado is so popular with today’s connoisseur.

Anejo is deep and oaky, thanks to being barrel-aged for one to three years, and can have aromas of hazelnut, almonds and caramelized fruit. It has a richer and deeper character with complex flavor, which is partly derived from the type of oak barrel used.

Extra anejo is the most complex of all, says Moya. It is smooth, but always shows an intense character, with aromas of dark chocolate, dried fruits, cedar, vanilla, and even dried coconut. Exceptional and unique, extra anejo is typically aged for more than three years in oak barrels.

Cigars and Tequila
Every Thursday evening, the culinary team at Esperanza crafts an over-the top buffet of Mexican food, while a Mariachi band strolls the venue, followed by fireworks over the ocean. Selected local artisans bring their goods to a market, where guests can purchase hand-crafted items, and a resident cigar roller crafts exquisite cigars from whole leaf tobacco. Choosing from one of the hundred tequila offerings at Esperanza can be daunting, but is a great way to accompany a handcrafted cigar.

“Cigars and tequila are an excellent pairing,” says Moya. “I think some characteristics in both have a certain sweetness, and an expression of aromas and flavors. There is a different intensity with every kind of cigar, so refresh the palate with tequila while you’re smoking a cigar and it can enhance certain characteristics of both.”

Moya recommends tequilas that combine extra aged tequilas to gain complexity, or Realeza Mexicana which make extra aged tequilas for pairing with cigars.

Amiee White Beazley is an award-winning food and travel journalist. She has contributed travel stories to The Washington Post, The Denver Post, Robb Report, Aspen Magazine, Coastal Living, Departures.com and Monocle.com, among others. To learn more, visit www.awbeazley.com.