Don Felipe Camarena was born into a family that had distilled tequila since back in the early 1800s. The family's original distillery was destroyed and abandoned during the Mexican Revolution, therefore Don Felipe began his career by growing and selling agave plants to other distillers. In 1937, Don Felipe opened La Altena Distillery in the mountainous region of Jalisco, Mexico, known for producing the best blue agave. His passion for doing things just right inspired his family to continue handcrafting Tapatio so it could be enjoyed by future generations.
Don Felipe passed the business to his son, Felipe J. Camarena, who in turn passed it on to his daughters; Lilianna and Gabriela, and to his son; Carlos. As Master Distiller, Carlos maintains today the standards of excellence set down by his grandfather.
La Altena Distillery reached a proud milestone on the 7th of July 2012: 75 years of handcrafting one of the world's finest tequilas. Many of the methods used to create this fantastic spirit are still the same as a century ago. For much of the production, a large stone wheel, a Tahona, is used to crush the cooked agave plants, with the resulting juice and agave fibres mixed in a barrel by foot before fermentation and distillation. Tapatio is double distilled to as close to bottle strength as possible so that the Tequila retains as much of its natural character as possible.
In recent years the Tequilas from La Altena distillery including Tapatio, Ocho and El Tesoro brands have become a phenomenon in the UK on-trade and they now enjoy an unrivalled reputation for quality, integrity and authenticity amongst bartenders and Tequila connoisseurs alike.
A special release of Tapatio's unaged blanco Tequila, bottled at a higher strength of 55% (110 proof). A more concentrated flavour, with pepper and fruit, which works well when sipped but can also hold up to other strong flavours in cocktails. Carlos Camarena describes this over-proof Tequila as his "game changer" and when you taste it you can sense why.
Nose: Sweet and savoury peppers - roasted capsicum and non-spicy padron. There is spiciness, but it comes from white pepper, the traditional agave hit, and is balanced by an underlying sweetness, which is almost white chocolate like.
Palate: Thick and oily on the palate, with a spicy kick to start, black pepper and chilli. With that comes sweet, roasted agave, cinnamon toast (with singed edges) and a surprisingly rich grape and sultana fruitiness.
Finish: The peppers from the nose return, turning from sweet to dry.
A big, rich and surprisingly complex spirit, especially considering that it is fresh from the still. The extra strength over the blanco allows the flavours to sing.