Carbondale celebrates its own bottled tequila
CARBONDALE, Colorado – These days it’s all about pairings. Whether it’s coming up with the right wine to go with poached monkfish or the right tire for the Hummer in an off-road race, pairings are a complex and profitable business. People have made storied careers out of pairing food and drink, but what about tequila?According to Terry Kirk, owner of Sopris Liquor & Wine, you don’t pair tequila with a specific dish, you pair it with everything.”Before, during and after the meal is appropriate,” he said.Kirk should know. He just spent a whirlwind weekend exploring the nuance and flavors of tequila with Kiko Pea, owner of Mi Casita Restaurant in downtown Carbondale. The pair of business owners have just unveiled the fruits of their concerted efforts and introduced “C-Dale Double Down 2012,” a Herradura double reposado tequila bottled exclusively for their businesses.Kirk and Pea visited the Herradura plantation, which has been distilling tequila out of 100 percent blue agave since 1870. The estate is in the heart of the state of Jalisco, close to the town of Tequila. Mexican laws restrict tequila production to the state of Jalisco and limited regions in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacn, Nayarit and Tamaulipas.Just like anything else, no two tequilas are alike, and Pea and Kirk were in pursuit of something unique, flavorful and special. They found it at Plantation Herradura.The pair of Carbondale businessmen already knew a lot about tequila. It could be argued that they have the accumulated expertise and sophistication to be uniquely qualified for all that sipping, swirling and tasting.When you are on a VIP tour of the Herradura Estate you have to pace yourself. It all starts with a 90-minute trip from Guadalajara to Amatitn aboard the “Tequila Express.” The train whisks tourists and a few buyers through tequila country while serving up food, mariachi music and all the beer and tequila passengers can hold.”We participated, but in moderation. We still had tequila to drink,” said Pea after admitting to Kirk belting out “Alla en el Rancho Grande” with the band toward the end of the commute.When they arrived at the estate, the tourists went in one direction while Kirk and Pea were escorted off to enjoy a private tour.”That’s where Kiko met Cuco,” joked Kirk.Cuco is one of the plantation’s burros whose mission is to follow the VIPs around with a pair of kegs of tequila strapped to his back. A maestro tends to the animal and to serving tequila in ceramic cups.After observing the hand preparation, roasting, fermenting and distilling process, Kirk and Pea descended upon the tasting room. The two men were charged with selecting a barrel to be bottled and labeled in Carbondale’s name.Each of the six barrels they sampled had its own unique qualities. Double reposado begins with 100 percent blue agave tequila that is rested in toasted oak barrels for 11 months. The tequila is then matured for another month in a new toasted oak barrel handmade specifically for this extra aging. It’s that second aging that takes it up a notch bringing smoothness and complex flavors of cooked agave, dried fruits and sweet brown spice.The two tasters took their time and spent nearly two hours, sipping and scheming and savoring before agreeing on their favorite barrel.The shipment of 240 750ML bottles of “C-Dale Double Down 2012″ arrived in late November. Kirk opened a bottle and poured a round for a gathering of locals. One sip confirmed that they had made the right decision.”Smooth, but it has a jump to the start and then it finishes with a hint of pepper,” he sighed with satisfaction.The limited edition sipping tequila is available at Sopris Liquor & Wine and at Mi Casita Restaurant, where you can buy a bottle, keep it behind the bar and impress your friends with an exquisite taste of Carbondale’s own double reposado tequila.Ultimately, Kirk and Pea found a pairing between Mexico and Carbondale, quality and taste, Anglo and Latino. They’ve built a bridge between the two cultures and running beneath the bridge is a smoky and peppery river of double reposado tequila.
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