2016 Tequila Classic Winners!

Tequila, Tequila Everywhere!

Abreojos Tequila

Photo by Foto Guyz

New to the Del Mar Tequila Classic this year was a blind tasting competition where some of today's most sought-after tequilas competed for the coveted Best in Show award based on clarity, aroma, taste, and finish. Our panel of respected industry professionals featuring Forrest Cokely, Chris Simmons, and Carlos Ochoa put their finely tuned palates to work on May 12th rating Blancos, Reposados, Anejos and Extra Anejos. The results of the blind tasting were revealed at the sold-out social event of the season, the Del Mar Tequila Classic on May 19th at the Del Mar Plaza. And the awards go to…

Best in Show

Tequila Fortaleza Blanco 

It comes as no surprise that Tequila Fortaleza has been awarded the Del Mar Tequila Classic Best in Show in the Blanco category. Industry professionals and connoisseurs alike have long considered Tequila Fortaleza one of the best tequilas on the market today. Rich in tradition, Tequila Fortaleza’s superior quality is the result of time-honored production methods dating back 150 years. Old stone ovens, tahona crushed agave, open air-wood fermentation tanks, a natural spring water source, and copper pot stills are just a few of the vintage methods used to create this artful tequila. Adding to the depth of flavor already found with the blanco, Fortaleza’s aged tequilas are matured in re-chipped and re-charred used American oak barrels resulting in a flavor profile unmatched in balanced complexity. The tequila among tequilas and true to its name, Fortaleza (Fortitude) defines the spirit of artisanal tequila remaining steadfast in heritage and authenticity with its unique approach to small batch tequila production. 

Tequila Fortaleza Blanco is rich with cooked agave and citrus notes, complimented by expressions of vanilla, butter, black pepper, and olive. A long, warm, inviting finish completes this blanco to perfection.  

Dos Armadillos Tequila Reposado/Dos Armadillos Tequila Anejo/Dos Armadillos Tequila Extra Anejo

An award winning tequila since it launched in 2011, Dos Armadillos Tequila has taken the Del Mar Tequila Classic by storm! Taking Best in Show in the Reposado, Anejo and Extra Anejo categories, Dos Armadillos Tequila continues its celebrated  reputation. With its logo featuring an armadillo, having long been recognized as the protector of the ancient cultures of Mexico, Dos Armadillos Tequila has been aptly named as a tribute to its ancestry. Stainless steel autoclaves, mechanical mills, open-air double fermentation using two different types of French Champagne yeast and a double distillation in stainless steel stills, are the innovative production methods used to produce this new-fashioned tequila. With little sunlight and high humidity, the Dos Armadillos warehouse ages its tequila in new American oak, medium charred barrels. Through traditional tequila techniques combined with state of the art equipment, Dos Armadillos Tequila offers a world class drinking experience.  

Dos Armadillos Reposado is rich in agave, bursting with oak, warm spice, and vanilla, and followed by an enduring warm finish (rested 6 months).

Dos Armadillos Anejo is a full-bodied cornucopia of flavor! It has impeccably balanced caramel, butterscotch, warm vanilla spice, oak, and almond with a long, engaging finish (aged 18 months).

Dos Armadillos Extra Anejo defines the art of sipping elegance. A seductively sweet entry leads to an aromatic expression of vanilla, caramel, warm spice, and autumn fruit touched by a light citrus expression.

Gold Medal Blanco

Cava Antigua

Cava Antigua has rich black pepper aroma with a burst of agave flavor! An exceptional blanco with a long, full, sweet agave finish. Awarded 92 points by the Beverage Testing Institute.

Gold Medal Reposado

Abreojos Tequila

Estate grown lowland agave provides a deep rich agave aroma with a flavor profile that includes chocolate, vanilla, salted caramel, banana, and oak.  

Gold Medal Anejo

Tequila La Jolla

Rich amber color leads to notes of oak, rich vanilla, caramel nutmeg, spice and a touch of smoke with a lingering, smooth finish.

Gold Medal Extra Anejo

Martin San Ramon

This tequila has a brilliant amber-gold hue that leads to an extra anejo that is light in complexity on the palate with a sweet, oak finish.

Our three judges for the blind taste test were Carlos Ochoa, Chris Simmons, and Forrest Cokely.

Carlos Ochoa, Brand Ambassador for Mezcal El Silencio, joined the team when the company was founded and launched to the US market in 2013. A career spirits-lover, Ochoa first entered the bar industry as a bar back at the age of 17. Since working his way up in his earlier years, Ochoa has been passionate about bringing the best experience and education to his customers through his roles as manager and beverage director for many of San Diego’s top bars. At the young age of 22, Ochoa even co-founded a bar, where he cemented his entrepreneurial spirit and quest to find the best spirits from around the world. Today, Ochoa travels around both San Diego and the country to educate restaurants, bars, and consumers about mezcal production and showcase how to create the finest cocktails using Mezcal El Silencio’s distinctive flavor profile.

Chris Simmons, General Manager of The Patio on Goldfinch, has a passion and appreciation for creating successful agave focused restaurant programs. He was the curator of the All Agave Club at the prestigious Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa and currently leads the Catador’s Corner tastings as well as quarterly five course Tequila Dinners at The Patio on Goldfinch. He has earned his Level Two Master Mezcalier certification and is also a Catador, obtaining his title from the Mexican Academy of Tequila Tasters lead by the highly respected Francisco Hajnal. Simmons brings a focus of agave spirits to The Patio on Goldfinch and looks forward to educating guests on the nuances of Mexican spirits. 

Forrest is a Charter Member of both the Ministry of Rum Connoisseurs Cabinet and Rum XP (Expert Panel), where he has judged many international rum competitions. He is also a founding (board) member and key-holder for the Orange County Bartenders Cabinet (OCBC). He is also a member of the Compagnie des Mousquetaires d'Armagnac. He has written many articles on many subjects utilizing his savvy. He has sharpened his understanding through study while judging spirit and mixology competitions, creating/leading tastings and workshops, designing branded/specialty cocktails for a variety of clients, and designing drinks/pairing menus for restaurants. All of this has afforded Cokely the opportunity to stretch beyond what can be found in his extensive book collection. While staying current, you can find Cokely taking part in multiple forum sites surrounding all aspects of his passion for spirits and in the marketplace searching for the latest innovation.

Julie Harrington Giffin, known industry wide as Agave Love, is a Certified Mezcalier whose marketing, branding, and editorial originality is delivered with a charismatic and sophisticated confidence. Inspiring others with her wit of tongue and pen, Agave Love is influential in encouraging the exploration of life’s more “spirited” pleasures.