Ocho Tequila Tasting with Tomas Estes and Julio Bermejo

We don’t need much of an excuse to go and drink Ocho Tequila…

…but when the tasting is at Dre Masso’s new bar L.T.D. @ The Social, with Tomas & Julio in attendance, well wild Agave couldn’t keep us away. Due to the nature of Ocho, a tasting is always a very interesting and enlightening affair, especially when Tequila royalty in the form of Tomas Estes and Julio Bermejo are in attendance. For those who have not been lucky enough to attend one of these tastings let me quickly explain why Ocho is unique.

Tomas & Julio are impressed by BarLifeUK’s Elephant impression

First things first, Ocho tequila is a joint partnership between Tomas and Julio’s wife’s family, the legendary Camarenas. That in itself is enough to tell you that it’s a tequila worth trying but that isn’t even half the story. The fact that Ocho is one of the few Tequilas still made using old fashioned, traditional techniques still only takes you to just over half the story.

You see Ocho is the only tequila which is both vintage and field dated. This means that each bottle not only has the year in which it was produced but also the precise field from which the agave comes – each batch is single estate; single field.

We have all heard the wine industry bang on about ‘terroir’ and how it has a huge effect on the taste of the wine, well Tomas has used this theory in his tequila and boy can you see where he was coming from when you try the different vintages side by side.

It is this vintage and field listing angle which makes an Ocho tasting so interesting and so unique. In our session we tried the following:

  • 2007 Blanco called La Rivera which is from a Valley estate
  • 2008 Blanco called Las Pomez from a Highland estate
  • 2010 Blanco called Los Mangos from a Valley estate
  • And the latest vintage to hit our shores
  • 2011 Blanco called El Puertecito from a Highland estate

The difference between the different vintages is incredible and anyone who has ever uttered the words ‘all tequila taste the same’ needs to be slapped and then given a couple of Ocho vintages to try (in that order).

Whilst we tried the tequilas (expertly served by Stuart and Herb from Cask Liquid Marketing in their best trolley dolly modes) Tomas and Julio told us more about tequila in general and what gives Ocho its taste in particular.

Agave Plants

Everyone loves Tommy

Firstly we looked at the Agave plants themselves. Did you know that one agave plant gives, on average, 35 kilos of usable flesh and it takes 8 kilos to make 1 litre of 50% tequila? The ripeness of an Agave plant when it is harvested makes a big difference to the taste of the finished product. Much like a banana the ripeness of the Agave can be determined by its appearance.

Ocho pick their Agave plants when they are at what is known as a ‘supreme state’, which in the world of bananas we would probably call overripe. The reason for this is that you get the sweetness as usual but the over ripeness also gives it a slightly bitter edge resulting in a greater and more complex Agave taste.

The harvesting of the Agave is also a very important part in the Ocho process. Due to the fact that it is not a mass produced tequila the jimadors are able to pick the exact plants to harvest rather than stripping out the whole field. This helps to ensure that the plants are at exactly the right state when harvested.

Tomas and Julio also discussed the importance that the location of the estate, and the field used, has on the final product. Someone telling you about this is interesting enough however when you can taste the differences in the glasses in front of you it takes on a whole new meaning. I, for one, discovered that I definitely prefer the valley style of tequila over the highland style during our session.

Guest DJ’s

Once the tasting session was over the night was still young and there was an extra treat in store for us all. As I mentioned the session was taking place at L.T.D. @ The Social and what a great venue it is. We will be telling you more about this place in the coming weeks but in the meantime if you haven’t been then get your arses down there pronto.

Whilst Dre and his team pumped out some epic Tommy’s Margaritas first Tomas then Julio took to the decks (ably assisted by Herb) for their own Desert Island Discs. Not only were we treated to some fantastic tunes but we were given a printout showing the songs picked and a little explanation explaining what each song meant to them.

Below is their playlists along with a couple of the explanations but before that a special mention must be made to the Steve Reid Foundation who The Social were raising money for through a raffle whilst we enjoyed ourselves. Also if you want more info on Ocho Tequilas and the opportunity to try these great brands then get in touch with the guys over at CASK Liquid Marketing.

DJ Tomas E

‘Soy capitan, Soy capitan, Bamba, Bamba…. Everyone!… Bamba, Bamba’
  • Jackson Browne, ‘Ready or Not’
  • Bob Dylan, ‘Song for Woody’
  • Toots and the Maytalls, ‘Love Gonna Walk Out On Me’
  • Eric Clapton, ‘Please Be With Me’
  • Los Lobos, ‘La Bamba’ – This is good dance music. Los Lobos are homies. They grew up near me and later lived in my hometown. We like to reminisce about life on Whittier Blvd in East LA.
  • Shirelles, ‘Baby It’s You’
  • Ray Charles, ‘What’d I Say?’
  • Fleetwood Mac, ‘Songbird’
  • Jeff Buckley, ‘Halleluja’ – Beautiful, haunting song by Leonard Cohen. Reminds me of opening Café Pacifico Sydney. After closing we’d turn on Jeff Buckley and sing along while lying on the restaurant floor, sipping Tequila. It was like singing in the shower in its acoustics.
  • The Beatles, ‘Love Is All You Need’
  • Mose Allison, ‘Young Man’s Blues’
  • Ray Davies and Jackson Brown, ‘Waterloo Sunset’
  • Music From Hair, ‘What a Piece of Work is Man’
  • Lyoll George, ‘Rosarita’
  • Unknown, ‘El Rey’ – We had a unique Mexican waiter at Café Pacifico in Paris in 1984. He would sing a cappella as he served tables. He sang ‘El Rey’ in Spanish and would translate it in English as he went along. El Rey is a song representing the macho side of men.
  • Neil Young, ‘I Believe in You’
  • Judy Collins, ‘My Father’
  • Jimi Hendrix, ‘Little Wing’
  • Michel Legrand, music from ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg’
  • Ramblin Jack Elliot, ‘Blue Eyes Cryin in the Rain’
  • Lou Reed, ‘Pale Blue Eyes

Judge Julio

Available for brithdays, weddings and bar mitzvahs.
  • Theme from Mission Impossible
  • Vincente Fernandez, ‘Los Mandados’
  • Roberto Carlos, ‘Amigo’
  • Rare Earth, ‘Get Ready’
  • The Champs, ‘Tequila’ – The national anthem of Tommy’s! Needless to say if it were not for Tequila, I would not be here today nor would I have had the opportunity to meet and enjoy many of your companies. Nick Strangeway and I never would have invented the tequila luge, nor would I have ever met Lily in Arandas. To quote Stefano Francavilla “God bless Tequila!” nothing else needs to be said.
  • U2, ‘Pride (In the name of Love)’
  • Luis Miguel, ‘El Viajero’
  • Earth Wind and Fire, ‘Got to Get You Into My Life’
  • Police, ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’ – To me everything Lily does is magic! Te amo, Mi Vida!
  • General Public, ‘Tenderness’
  • Carlos Baute y Martha Sanchez, ‘Colgando en Tus Manos’
  • Astrud Gilberto, ‘Girl from Ipanema’
  • Juanes Song, ‘Es Por Ti’
  • Katrina and the Waves, ‘Walking on Sunshine’
  • Carlos Santana, ‘Samba Pa Ti’
  • Tony Bennett, ‘I Left my Heart in San Francisco’ – San Francisco is my town! I am one of its biggest promoters. I was born there and it will always be my home though I consider myself a citizen of the world. I love showing visitors how beautiful she is. Indeed Lily has my heart now, but whenever I am far from San Francisco, Tony Bennett brings me back home!
  • Nat King Cole, ‘Fantastico’
  • Prince, ‘Take Me With You’
  • Luis Miguel, ‘Sabes Una Cosa’