Carlos Camarena needs no introduction to those familiar with fine Tequila, but for those of you who are still getting your feet wet: he's the man behind a number of outstanding brands on today's market; those baring the NOM number 1474 on the side label. His father first founded La Alteña in 1937 and we were invited down this past Fall to celebrate the distillery's 80th anniversary and be a part of the first single barrel selections of reposado casks. While most modern facilities have moved onto to more efficient power shredders or roller mills, La Alteña still uses the tahona wheel for part of its production, holding on to the traditions of the past. In the case of El Tesoro, however, 100% of the agave used is tahona-pressed, which in the wine world would be the equivalent of foot-stomping. Made with 100% Highland agave, the piñas tend to be larger, fruitier, and sweeter in flavor due to the difference in both soil types and climate. The result is a lighter, finer, and incredibly sippable spirit. This single barrel Reposado expression, barrel #110, captures the soft spices and delicate citrus notes beautifully, gliding across the palate with ease, finishing with subtle flurries of pepper and clove.
By: Jeffrey Jones
K&L Staff Member
The nose is strong and expressive with green citrus notes. In the mouth it really shows its uniqueness with a creamy mouth feel and a subtle citrus notes. It is round with a touch of spice.The barrel influence is much stronger than with barrel #117.One of the fun things about the single barrel program is to see how different the same spirit from the same producer ages from barrel to barrel.
By: Andrew Whiteley
K&L Staff Member
There is a huge pop of citrus on the nose of the #110 barrel. It smells almost like you've already mixed a margarita. The super clean and bright lime and orange of nose translates just as you'd expect on the palate. The finish comes across with just a hint of salinity. It's amazing how well balanced this single barrel is on its own. Typically to achieve this kind of finesse in a spirit it takes a master blender and hundreds of barrels to work with. When you get it all in one singular cask, that's when you know you need to bottle it on its own.
By: David Driscoll
K&L Staff Member
Carlos said two things to me when talking about distillation that stood out: 1) smaller copper pots are better, in his opinion; and 2) every distillation is itself a blend. Tequila is double distilled in copper pot stills much like single malt whisky, but whereas a number of Scotch producers will talk about the importance of the height of the still, Carlos believes a more concentrated and flavorful Tequila results from a smaller still due to the increased contact with the copper. As many of you already know, copper creates a number of reactions that result in various flavor profiles and it also eliminates any of the sulphurous components released by the fermenting yeast. There are a number of different sized stills at La Alteña, but not one of them is all that large. When we asked him about blending the spirits after distillation, he said: "Every distillate is itself a blend because the spirit tastes different every minute it comes off the still." I thought that was fantastic. In essence, you could cut each minute of every singular run into its own batch and each would taste slightly different from the next. To categorize a spirit as singular because it's from one single distillation is to ignore the fact that it's still a collection of liquids with various flavor profiles. So while this is a "single barrel" of Tequila, it's much more a product of a very specific time and place than it is the product of a single wood vessel.
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