A MASTER AND HIS DREAM
Master Distiller Cirilo Oropeza spent decades learning both the science of distillation and the art of tequila making. His passion for it, matched with his strict attention to detail, allowed Cirilo to dedicate himself to the dream of creating a tequila of great quality that everyone could enjoy.
In 1995 he met a local entrepreneur who shared his ambition. They formed a partnership which enabled the creation of a state-of-the-art home for this dream tequila. Destiladora San Nicolas became that home and Espolòn became that tequila.
The award-winning tequilas of Espolòn stand as testament to Cirilo’s pioneering spirit, commitment to his art and promise to never give up on his dreams.
THE GREAT ROOSTER TALE
When it came time to name his beloved tequila, Master Distiller Cirilo looked to another important part of Mexican culture for inspiration. Named for the spur of the rooster, a powerful symbol of national pride, Espolòn is a fitting tribute to the true storied culture of Mexico.
The Espolòn rooster is named Ramón. He is their icon and their spirit animal. Ramón leads the charge. He’s not afraid to stir things up. And he can be counted on anytime you need a little spur to get things going.
THE LEGEND BEHIND THE LABEL
Espolòn, at its heart, is a tribute to Mexican culture. The artwork, like the tequila, borrows from the past and gives it a modern twist. Each label tells a story from Mexico’s rich history. Each captures a different moment, but all pay tribute to one true hero – José Guadalupe Posada.
Posada was a 19th century artist and printmaker, a real pioneer and a bit of a rebel. His most famous work, the calavera (skulls), made powerful commentary on the social injustices of his time. With his sharp wit and clever hand, he gave his people a voice, and gave the art world a style that continues to influence pop culture today.
Destiladora San Nicolas (NOM-1440) is located in Jalisco, among the plantations of the Los Altos (Highlands). Known for its highly desired Blue Weber Agave, the region produces agave larger in size and sweeter in aroma and taste.
The Plascencia family has roots in the tequila industry dating back to 1898. Don Celso Plascencia was a humble working man born in the Highlands. He worked the land and, as he travelled to and from the fields that belonged to other men, he promised that one day his family would own their own estate and make their own tequila. In 1996, Don Celso’s grandson Raul Plascencia fulfilled this dream with the completion of Destiladora San Nicolas.
To lead the operation Plascencia tapped Cirilo Oropez, whose undeniable talent and steadfast commitment to quality distillation made him the perfect match. The facilities at San Nicolas are a perfect blend of both ancestral Mexican tradition and the latest technology.
Espolòn is sourced from 100% blue weber agave. The agave’s grow in rich soil at 1800–2000 meters above sea level in the "Golden Triangle" of the Highlands.
The challenging environment of the Highlands yields fruit with a higher sugar content and more intense flavour than agave grown in other regions. The hot days and cool nights, the water low in calcium and rich in important minerals, and the rocky soil are all ideal for agave growing.
The piñas, the heart of the agave, are judiciously harvested when the fruit has reached its sweet spot–traditionally between six and ten years–and incorporated only when the plant is perfectly aged to provide a full, mature and flavorful product. For Espolòn, that is seven years, on average.
Once harvested, a quality inspection is carried out on the fruit. Once the piñas pass inspection they are taken to our distillery where they are cut into four pieces, as opposed to the industry average of two, because the increased surface area helps create a sweeter more approachable tequila.
The quartered piñas are slow cooked in temperature-controlled 17,000-kilogram capacity autoclaves for up to 22 hours–longer than the industry standard of 18 hours-to allow for more caramelization. Steam is injected to activate the chemical conversion of complex carbohydrates into simple fermentable sugars.
While earthen ovens were traditionally used, Espolòn piñas are roasted in outdoor stainless steel pressure cookers in order to guarantee stability and a smoother finishing tequila.
The softened, cooked piñas are transferred to a milling area for sugar extraction. The fruit is crushed in order to release the juice that will be fermented.
The traditional method of crushing piñas calls for use of a Tahona, or giant grinding wheel operated by mules or oxen around a circular pit. For Espolòn, four mechanical roller mills separate the juice extract (“aguamiel”) from the fibrous pulp (“bagasse”), which is then used to fuel our stills.
During the fermentation process the sugars are transformed into alcohol within sealed 60,000-liter capacity stainless steel tanks in an insulated hall. The 26 tanks are stainless steel to give the cleanest agave flavour and sealed to ensure no airborne yeast contaminates the wash.
The process takes ~72 hours yielding a wort with an alcohol level of 4%-7% and uses a proprietary strain of yeast, which plays a major role in the distinct body, flavour and aroma of our tequilas.
The water used is put through a reverse osmosis process to achieve maximum purity. It is sourced from a 250-meter deep natural well that provides the tequila with a light, sweet, soft flavour.
The distillation process is simple in theory–the agave wort, or “mosto,” is heated to evaporate the alcohol, which is then condensed and collected–but extremely complex in practice. There are two types of distillation processes:
COLUMN STILL: Also called “Coffey”, is the modern method using a continuous process that does not require multiple distillations and yields a light, fruity spirit.
POT STILL: Also called “alembic” or “small batch,” is the traditional method and yields an oily, heavy, earthy spirit.
Both methods are used for Espolòn. The pot still distillation used for crafting Espolòn takes 5½ hours per batch, longer than the industry standard of 3½ hours, allowing more flavours to be extracted. Distillation takes place twice, with the heads and tails cut each time to preserve only the best of the liquid in the stainless steel pot stills.
The first distillation, or “deztrozamiento,” takes a couple hours and yields a low-proof liquid with an alcohol level of 28% known as “ordinario.”
The second distillation, or “rectificado,” takes three to four hours and yields a spirit-strength liquid with an alcohol level of 55%.
More than half of the final blend after distillation is the “heart” of the agave, resulting in a balanced, approachable tequila with a sweet and smooth flavour. This is Espolòn Blanco Tequila.
Tequila is generally aged in used French or American oak bourbon barrels. Espolòn, however, ages only in "virgin" American oak barrels featuring a lighter No. 2 char to impart more subtle caramel and vanilla notes and ensure no additional influences for a truer, pure taste. Our 200-liter barrels are smaller than the industry standard 500-liter barrels, giving the liquid more contact with the wood for additional complexity.
As ageing increases, colour deepens, sharpness minimizes, mellowness increases, flavour builds, and strength and volume decrease.
All Espolòn’s Reposados rest for between three to five months and the Añejos for twelve months, ten months in new American oak barrels and the final two months in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels with a No. 4 char.
ESPOLÒN REPOSADO. LET’S REMEMBER THE MARKETPLACE
The marketplace holds special importance in Mexican history. It’s where culture meets commerce, arts mingle with crafts and all walks of life come together. This story of the market goes way back to the remnants of the ancient Aztec civilization, and the establishment of Mexico City by the Spanish conquistadors. In it, the gutsy do-gooders Guadalupe and Rosarita, guided by Ramón the Rooster, scheme to keep important traditions of their culture alive.