Ocho Tasting Notes

by  Phil Bayly on Fri Dec 30, 2011

    Muestra No.OCHO 8
    Tasting Notes

    Tequila OCHO takes the exploration of ‘Terroir’ in tequila one giant step beyond by producing batches of tequila from single fields {ranchos] much the way fine Burgundy wine is produced. For example in the village of Vosne Romanee in Burgundy, wine is produced with the following appellations [names], “Les Beaux Monts”, “La Montagne” and “Aux Brulees” to name a few. Tequila OCHO has done the same thing by producing in Arandas the following appellations [names] “El Carrizal”, “Las Pomez” and “Los Corrales” to name a few.


    “The Role of ‘Terroir’ in Agaves and Tequila”
    ‘Terroir’ is the French term used to describe the natural elements [influences] that have an effect on agriculture, notably grapes grown for wine use. These elements include, soil composition, altitude, temperatures day and night through the year, rain fall, humidity and exposition to sun and winds.
    It is becoming increasingly understood and agreed upon that the concept of ‘Terroir’ also exists with the growing of agave and the resulting tequila made from it. In Jalisco, the largest tequila producing state of Mexico there are two large regions of agave and tequila production, the ‘Tequila Valley’ and ‘Los Altos’ [‘The Highlands’]. It is said, as a generality that the tequilas made from agaves from Tequila Valley are ‘masculine’, forward in flavour with an earthy, peppery, herbal taste profile. The tequilas made from agaves grown in Los Altos are ‘feminine’, softer, rounder, more fruity and floral.
    Tequila OCHO takes the exploration of ‘Terroir’ in tequila one giant step beyond by producing batches of tequila from single fields {ranchos] much the way fine Burgundy wine is produced. For example in the village of Vosne Romanee in Burgundy, wine is produced with the following appellations [names], “Les Beaux Monts”, “La Montagne” and “Aux Brulees” to name a few. Tequila OCHO has done the same thing by producing in Arandas the following appellations [names] “El Carrizal”, “Las Pomez” and “Los Corrales” again to name a few.


    Rancho “El Vergel”, [‘The Orchard’] is close to Arandas, Carlos Camarena has a country house near there. 2000m, very red soil rich in iron oxide, high sugar content of agaves. This Rancho was thought to be unsuitable for agave growing by Don Felipe, Carlos’ father since his limes growing there would sometimes freeze, peaches were grown there too.

    Reposado 2007
    Colour- pale amber, bright, clean and clear, thick consistency

    Nose- yeast, sugar frosting and cinnamon like smelling inside a bakery
    Notes of cooked agave and pear, fruity, herbal and slightly oaky with some smoke, tapinade
    Palate- very good body, oily, spicy with a persistent taste of cooked agave, notes of vanilla, cinnamon and cloves, very fruity finish which persists, only a hint of oak

    Añejo 2007
    Colour – pale straw , bright , good mouth feel

    Nose- cinnamon, confectioner’s sugar, orange peel, caramel, vanilla, wood notes with dried fruit [apricots] , toasted almonds, went from orange blossom like Gran Marinier to tangerine, pine resin, cacao, sour cherries, tapinade

    Palate- begins with orange zest and opens up to cinnamon and brown sugar, agave stays through the mid-range, plum runs in and out of the mid –palate, lavender, pineapple,
    round fruity finish with Brazil nuts , cacao powder, vanilla, creamy anis , earthiness and hints of black olive brine, long finish, excellent structure

    Extra Añejo 2007
    Nose- fine, dry, alternating with round, sweet fruitiness and delicate vanilla, returning to a dry olive brine acidity

    Palate- agave fruit attack, the balance between fruit and acidity continues throughout with layers of toffee, almonds, brioche, raisins, treacle, coffee and cacao accented by both American and French oak.



    Rancho “El Carrizal” was nicknamed “La Langacha” by Don Felipe Camarena because it is a long thin strip of land, which he joked could be jumped over. 1978 m, warm days and cool nights creates agaves with a balance of sugar and acidity as in grapes used for wine production.
    In 2008, at nearly 6,500 feet master distiller Felipe Camarena took from the red Arandas soil the ultra-ripe agaves from his Rancho Carrizal estate. This 60-day-old reposado is all that's left--and thank goodness for that since it is a whopper, with quite a full-body for Tequila. A complex nose of Meyer lemon, smoke, earth and subtle saline-seaweed note (wow!) leads to a biggish mouth of sweet pea, mint, cocoa--a serious Arandas chew.

    Reposado 2008
    Colour- light pale, mouth feel light and thick at the same time

    Nose- strong agave, broad floral presence, round sweetness present, reminiscent of the Carrizal blanco, oak accents, opens up to cooked orchard fruits, vanilla , egg custard, tapinade.

    Palate- soft ,ripe agave attack, balanced , smooth and easy, mid-palate full of fruit , apricot, marzipan, pepper, cacao, tangerine , long, long  finish of fruit and alcohol with olive, subtle oak and soft tannins.


    Rancho “Cerrito de San Augustin” in the Los Altos of Jalisco in the municipality of Jesus Maria has a hilly, undulating  landscape, deep red soil of iron oxide, 2074m .  Coordinates are  20 degrees,  38’ 03” N by  102 degrees , 09’ 14” W .  28.5% sugar content of the agaves, average weight of the pinas was 36 kilograms. There are trees on the sides of the rancho. The land belongs to San Augustin Hacienda where the Camarena family’s grandfather , Don Felipe Camarena was born in 1897. The land was leased by the Camarenas for growing their agaves on. They will not again lease this land so we will likely not see Tequila OCHO Rancho “Cerrito de San Augustin “ again.

    Blanco 2009
    nose- round , red orchard fruit, banana, olive, sweet and acidity well balanced

    palate- first fruit, citrus, tangerine then dryness, pepper, mint, menthol, then cinnamon and finally cherry followed by brine


    Rancho “Los Corrales”  means the corrals or ‘place to keep livestock’. 2184m, coordinates , 20 degrees,41’,17”N by 102 degrees,15’27”W, soil is deep red, no rocks present, land is triangular, its longest side of 800meters faces the main road from Arandas to Jesus Maria with a slight incline going from 2180m to 2187m , the land is rented and it is the first time that agave has been planted here, sugar content is 27.35% ave. , plants were at 9 years of age when harvested , they were fully mature with a reddish-brown colour around the pina which is a sign of the best possible acidity, total production from the field was 17,896 plants harvested out of 20,800 planted, [86%], the rest were not used due to over maturity [they actually die and decompose in the field], ave, pina 25.46 kg[56 lbs] the age of the agaves was 8 years which matured fast due to the rich soil in which they were grown. Some pinas were 100 kilograms.
    “In the field [rancho] is the smell of over-ripe , decaying agaves, sweet and medicinal , vinegar –like. The smell is in the air, it is almost like smelling cooked agaves but is less sweet ,more acidic.” Tomas Estes

    Blanco 2010
    Colour- brilliant , clear , viscous

    Nose- very lively, fresh agave , acidity leads, sugar follows [tropical fruits], candied green fruits , charcuterie, earthiness

    Palate- peppery attack,agave followed by vegetal notes  ,mellows to  goes to ‘creamy’ fruit , finishes in mint dryness with coffee, cacao and fruit returns

    Reposado  2010
    Colour- very pale straw

    Nose- bright agave fruit, cinnamon with green olive dryness, custard with slight hints of nutmeg

    Palate- leads with sweetness, goes to ripe plums, anise, tropical fruits, finishes with olive brine and earthiness. Lively and profound at the same time


    Rancho “Los Mangos” is close to Michoacan along the Rio Lerma. It is dry and very hot in summer and has brown soil similar to that in the Tequila Valley. The ranch is surrounded by mountains. The Camarena Family used to go from Arandas to Rancho Los Mangos for week end holidays and Sunday lunches. The one and a half hour drive is beautiful going through mountains , quaint villages and agave fields planted on the hillsides. Just before arriving at “Los Mangos” the soil is absolutely black in colour. Before being planted in agave [for the first time with this harvest] this land grew mangos and cheeries. Some of these trees are left but not many.  
    The rancho belonged to Carlos and Felipe’s great grandfather, Refucio Curiel. Carlos planted agave on his uncle’s land in 2000 making the age of the agaves 9 years old at harvest. Average weight of the pinas  was 47-48 kgs  with some being over 85 kgs with an average sugar content of 29-30 %. ,industry average being 26%. Altitude is 1600 meters and this ranch is the furthest away from Arandas of all of the Camarena’s ranches being in Ayotlan County which is part of the ‘Los Altos de Jalisco’ . The ‘terroir’ of “Los Mangos” is similar to that of Tequila Valley.

    Blanco  2010
    Colour- bright , clear , thick on the glass

    Nose- buttery, lively fruit as in plum eau de vie with cinnamon and marzipan accents, sweet and dry at the same time

    palate, complex, cooked agave, right balance of bitterness, green grape skin, cloves, uncooked asparagus, light pineapple, green apple


    Rancho ‘El Puertecito’

    Located atop a hill about three miles west from Arandas in the heart of the highlands region, this is the highest elevation agave field owned by the Camarena family, at 2,150m above sea level. The field is oriented south-east so it gets the most of the daily sunlight even in wintertime, while at the north & west limits it is surrounded by oak & cedar trees among "huizache" and "tepame" mexican native trees. This prevents the agave plants from getting too hot in the summertime.
    The origin of the name "El Puertecito" is lost in history, however it is indeed a funny name, considering that such a name means, literally translated, "little port", and the field is on a hill as previously described, and about 350km from the nearest beach.
    The agave harvested was 8.5 years old and extremely mature. Waiting to obtain the best sugar content & acidity out of those plants, at the moment of beguinning harvesting around 25% of the original plants were already overmatured and decayed. This extreme maturity also leads to having high sugar content. 29.4% of the total weight of the piñas was pure fructose. The piñas weighted an average of 27kgs (59 pounds) and due to their high sugar content, only around 15.5 pounds (instead the usual 17) were needed to make 1 liter of 100% agave tequila @ 55% abv.
    Total production of the agave field was 330 ton, enough to produce the equivalent to 64,444 liters of blanco tequila @ 40% abv.   Words by C.C.C.C.

    Blanco 2011

    Colour- crystal clear, showing thickness of ‘legs’ and slow rivers of ‘tears’ on the side of the glass

    Nose- green fruits [apple], cantaloupe, lily in full bloom, acetone, white and black pepper, raw almond, beef jerky [biltong], fennel, olive oil, lime zest, cedar, spearmint, toasted tobacco, cacao, root beer

    Palate- olive, tapenade, round and blunt, anise, cooked sweet vegetables, coco, nutmeg, spearmint, chestnut, raw kale going to blunt radish on the after taste, dry and acidic finish

    Luke Estes- “Reminiscent of a dry martini with an olive. Dark and earth tone maroon in place of fruit, more nutty and dry than fruity. This was like interpreting a form of language when tasting. The experience comes through in mental images as to what the taste is.”

    Carlos Camerana- “Puertecitos is complex and still gentle. The waves of flavour come along softly in harmony and don’t throw you in the ocean.”

    Phil Bayly

    Phil Bayly

    Phil Bayly has been involved in the growth of the Tequila Industry in Europe and Australia since 1980.

    Based in Sydney, Australia and owner of Café Pacifico Sydney, he has been recognized with various awards for his work with tequila including the first 'Distinctivo T' in the southern hemisphere in 2006.

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