A group of twelve journalists, bloggers, writers, and mixologists gathered last night at RedBird in downtown Los Angeles to taste the new Tequila Herradura Colección de la Casa, Reserva 2014. We couldn't have been in a more beautiful, or appropriate setting. RedBird, the latest restaurant to join the nascent downtown food and bar scene is American fusion cuisine at it's best. The building, however, is not so new, enjoying a past life as a cathedral. The stairs we climbed to get to the private roof-top kitchen were lined with the original tile of the Vibiana Cathedral's former rectory. From where I was sitting, I could see the tower of the church juxtaposed against towering skyscrapers on my left, and an über modern compact kitchen on my right. In front of me, no doubt, was a gorgeous table set with bottles of Herradura's newest edition: tequila aged in scotch barrels.
Our tasting was led by Master Taster Ruben Aceves with food paired by Master Chef, Neal Fraser. Ruben has spent over a quarter of a century working for Mexico's top tequila, a relationship that in many ways started when he was just nine years old.
According to Aceves, two ounces of Herradura blanco is enjoyed every day before lunch where he's from. When he and his eight brothers and sisters came home from school every day to eat, his parents and grandparents would be sitting around the table waiting for them. Though the kids would have to wait many years before being served the mid-day aperitif, they were allowed to dip their finger into the tequila for a small taste. Then, when Aceves turned sixteen, his grandmother requested his presence at lunch every day for three straight weeks, and poured him the adult-sized, two-ounce portion of Herradura blanco with their daily meal. Her reason? As he crossed from youth into adulthood, she wanted him to have a mature and intelligent perspective about spirits as he went out into the world. Grandmothers are so wise.
She certainly made the impression she'd aimed for. Aceves went on to become an expert tequila taster, and eventually the Master Taster for this historic brand.
Herradura wasn't new to me last night. It was on the shelf of every bar I've ever worked behind, and a bottle of Herradura blanco and reposado sit behind me in my home bar as I write. However, the new scotch cask finish reposado is quite unique. The essence of peat immediately hit my senses, as did strong notes of citrus, vanilla, and cinnamon. It tingled on the lips and coated the tongue with an intense warmth that I'm not accustomed to when it comes to this spirit. I'd have to say that if you're a bourbon, whiskey, or scotch drinker, this is a bottle that you'll want to try soon, and add to your collection. Ideal for sipping but acceptable for mixing, Herradura Colección de la Casa is a must-have in 2015.