Tequila Alquimia (pronounced alkee-mia) is spanish, for the word alchemy". It has a few meanings, but I go with "the magical process of transformation". Alquimia is made by Dr. Adolfo Murillo, who is a Doctor of Optometry and also has a Bachelor of Biological Science degree, and is the Founder/President and CEO of Tequila Alquimia. Murillo was born on the ranch that he farms today. He said "that is one of the reasons that keeping the ranch has been so important to me, in addition to knowing first-hand all the hard work that my grandfather and my father put into buying and working the ranch". Murillo once dreamed about owning a winery, but after his grandmother died, the ranch was going to be sold and he convinced his dad to keep it. The agreement was that Adolfo would run it and keep it productive, but he didn't want to grow corn (which is what was grown there before). He said he loved the beautiful sea of blue-green agaves on the rolling hills throughout the state of Jalisco, so he decided that agave was what he wanted to grow on the ranch. Adolfo says that this is so much more than a business for him, it is his family dream. He told me “there have been significant challenges along the way, but we’re proud of what we’ve achieved with Tequila Alquimia.”
Alquimia truly is a family-owned and operated brand, using only agaves grown organically from Rancho Murillo's fields (single estate), near the village of Agua Negra. Four generations of Murillo's have farmed this land. When his grandparents owned the land, agave was not cultivated in that region because the soil is not deep red like it is in Arandas, and there is not enough top soil.The makeup of the soil is so different that he had to use his background in science. Dr Murillo had to formulate a plan, using all-organic methods. He devised their organic protocol using his grandfather’s natural farming methods plus modern science. He had one big problem though. When he began to ask questions about why nobody had ever grown agave in the area, everyone told him that agave would not grow there. There wasn't enough rainfall, and the extremes in temperatures were not good for growing agave, as well as the soil being too poor to sustain agave, and so on.
We had lengthy conversations about his organic procedures and he told me that he did not have an agricultural background, so he relied on his science degree. He said his organic agave protocol has not only been improving his soil for the past 23 years, but it has yielded record-setting agaves in terms of weight and sugar content. He said "I took a chemistry kit down with me and I tested our soil, and compared it to the soil in Arandas, and figured out what needed to be done to provide our agaves with the necessary nutrients and soil conditions". He then decided to do it all organically, without the use of chemical fertilizers, toxic pesticides, weed-killers, and fungicides. Murillo told me "we had USDA Organic Certification way before most other organic brands, and we were one of the first to get USDA Certification, He continued "in fact, we are widely known as the Pioneers in Organic Agave Protocols".
Dr Murillo said they began to see the organic effects on the agaves. Not only were they able to grow agave where no one else believed they would grow, but year upon year they have seen a consistent increase in yields, as they continue to improve the quality of the soil, by nurturing the microbiological activity and by inviting the natural vegetation and insect population to take hold around, and in between our fields.
I found it interesting when he said his agaves are actually stressed because of the minimal rainfall, but what that does, is induce them to develop a much more complex root systems. Dr Murillo mentioned that the roots go far down into the ground in search of that precious moisture, and along the way, they also bring up scarce elements and minerals that are no longer found close to the surface, and that adds to the complexity of the flavor profile in Alquimia Tequilas. In addition, because the natural, organic conditions help to grow larger and healthier agaves, their sugar content, known as the Brix content, is also much higher than other agaves grown in Jalisco. Dr Murillo says a huge factor in his success, has been their foreman, Luis Guzman (pictured below). He not only has headed up his field operations since day one, but he actually grew up on our ranch, working for Murillo's grandfather.
Alquimia is USDA Certified Organic, and is one of my favorite Top Tequilas. It has always been in Lou's Top 10 blancos, and that is chosen out of hundreds of tequilas that I have tasted and rated. Not only is it a clean, environmentally sensitive organic tequila, but it tastes absolutely fantastic. It is a multiple award-winning organic tequila, having won 41 gold medals in the past 8 years, including the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition 'Best in Show' for its Extra Añejo. I have previously rated Murillo's Alquimia Reserva de Don Adolfo Extra Añejo as very competitive against some of the worlds best XA's and for the $100-125. price, NOTHING touches it at this price. It is absolutely stunning.
Tequila Alquimia is made at Nom 1468 at Distillery Grupo Tequilero México, in the highlands (Los Altos). Murillo contracts out the distillery when he produces, but this is a special situation. Dr Murillo told me "we are not a typical contract brand. In addition to using ONLY our own agaves (if we used any other, we would lose our USDA certification). Murillo said "we also run our own production and our process is our own, and I bring in my own chemical engineer, and he and I together are the "Master Distiller". His team has been together since the very first production in 2004. The organic production process is more costly and labor intensive than conventionally produced tequila. It takes a lot of work and cost, to lower our carbon footprint, and to try to improve the condition of our environment.
Adolfo's agaves are carefully selected, and only the best and healthiest agaves are used. Dr Murillo told me that they have been growing their own agave on the family ranch for 23 years now, and our agave fields are inspected by the USDA every single year. They only harvest plants that are at their peak of quality and ripeness, that have a high Brix (sugar) level. Dr Adolfo Murillo, has for more than 20 years, been dedicated to eliminating all use of toxic chemicals and without using pesticides, helping other ranchers throughout Mexico to subscribe to environmentally responsible growing practices. He says he saw firsthand the effects of pesticides and chemicals on workers, so he dedicated his family’s tequila business to organic sustainability. Dr Murillo explained in depth to me, the detailed methods involved running an organic production. He explained what he has to do, to be certified USDA organic- and it is a lot of work. He feels it is worth it, and the clean, pure, taste makes it hard to disagree with. Because of Alquimia's quality controlled organic process, they closely monitor the cooking, fermentation and distillation at every single step. This ensures that the tequilas are consistently of the highest quality possible.
I personally believe that it makes sense, to not use pesticides and other chemicals in the growing of the agave and in it's production procedures. Organic production includes sterilizing all equipment, surfaces, lines, and even the trucks, which must be sterilized and steam-cleaned. Adolfo told me that the most important aspect, is what they do in the fields, eliminating all use of toxic substances, in order to make the land more productive. In doing that, he also protects the health of his workers, and it creates a healthier product for the consumer, and a cleaner environment. He went on to tell me, "any time toxic chemicals are used in agriculture, they leach down into the water table, and this contaminated water is used for drinking and cooking, which is a great cause of cancers and birth defects". All this cleaning and inspecting, along with a more demanding procedure, make for an eco-friendly and higher quality product, instead of a chemically-intensive process.
PRODUCTION- Alquimia Tequila is stone oven cooked, shredder/roller milling and uses stainless steel distillation pot stills. It is double distilled at 40 % abv. The blanco is bottled without aging, just as myself and many other blanco lovers prefer.
Organic Alquimia is made of recycled glass by a family of glassblowers in Tonalá, Jalisco. Dr Murillo says that all aspects of this artisanal production, reflect a proper balance of the old world and the new. That includes a combination of alchemy, modern science, and rich culture.
BLANCO- Bottled after distillation, this is the truest expression of pure tequila, and Alquimia Blanco, is my kind of blanco. Organic Alquimia is smooth, silky, and buttery, and is a solid, well made traditional highland (Los Altos) tequila. Don Adolfo makes this solid tequila with notes of pepper, spice, anise, fruit, mint and more. It’s a tasty, clean, fresh, buttery and silky tequila. This blanco has it all.
NOSE- sweet, fresh agave aroma, light spice, light citrusy and mint, earthy, herbal, fresh and bright, with some smoke. It has a pinch of anise-like licorice. It has some floral notes, a pinch of vanilla and some light pepper.
TASTE- thin to maybe a medium oil, earthy, sweet cooked agave, a clean, bright smooth taste, some anise, dried fruit, pepper, a pinch of vanilla with some citrus and floral notes. A solid tasty tequila.
FINISH- a nice medium to long exit of mild spice and pepper, mint, some fruit, floral and smoky with a bit of heat.
I wanted you to see the nice difference in color (ABOVE), with the Reposado (left) and Anejo (right), as well as what I believe to be proper spacing, concerning his aging. To have a complete line of tequila like this, the aging difference between expressions couldn't be better, it's just right. The Blanco is true and completely unaged, then a 6 month Reposado, followed by a 2 yr/11 month Anejo and then, to top it all off... the 6 yr+ Extra Anejo, EACH HAS ITS OWN DEFINITE FLAVOR and that is what you want. A pure blanco, a light but bold reposado, a bold, complicated well aged and tasty anejo and a killer extra aejo. All Alquimia aged tequilas are aged in American White Oak barrels from Kentucky with a medium char. Adolfo told me he uses once-used Jack Daniels barrels that he buy's directly from their cooperage, and that they add a medium char prior to use. Adolfo said "we prefer our barrels to be broken-in and I feel that new oak would be too aggressive on our tequila". Murillo added "It would upset the delicate balance, so our used barrels give us a more gentle aging".
REPOSADO- This light colored Reposado has so many aromas and flavors, it surprised me. This is very easy to sip and enjoy, while still getting the clear agave flavors. Dr Murillo told me "a lot of the freshly-baked agave notes came through in the Repo, due to its young age." I agree with that, as it did show plenty of nice cooked agave aromas and flavors. It is aged for 6 months in once used Jack Daniels white oak, medium charred barrels. This is just perfect to sip neat, and that's what I would do. Although it has a lot going on in aroma and taste, it is nice and mild overall. If you like Reposado... THIS is it.
NOSE- sweet, oak, agave forward, whisky, spice, mild vanilla, mild smoke and a pinch of mint. Mild aromas of brown sugar, a touch of chocolate, buttery, vegital and maybe a pinch of cinnamon.
TASTE- medium oily mouth-feel, sweet with some heat, buttery, slight brown sugar notes, spice and oak. It had creamy sugar taste, which was very enjoyable.
FINISH- a warm creamy, smooth, spicy and sweet medium exit with a pinch of heat.
ANEJO- Alquimia Anejo is aged for just under three years in white oak barrels for a robust wood essence. This produced such a bold, complicated full bodied delicious anejo, and as I like to say "if you're going to do it....do it. THIS is the way an anejo should taste- like an anejo, not a strong reposado or a weak extra anejo. This is the Real Deal. I Love this anejo, and it is one of the best anejo's I have tried. This tequila is best enjoyed as a sipping tequila in a cognac snifter, to savior all the flavors. You can see the dark rich color in the comparison picture above. With aromas and flavors of caramel, fruit, mild vanilla and spice, sweetness, mild chocolate, brown sugar and more.
NOSE- sweet, whisky/bourbon, spice, caramelized brown sugar, slight vegital, some earthy tones, a pinch of mint and light smoke. It has like a salted caramel, and light leathery aroma, some mild vanilla, dried fruit notes with a pinch of cinnamon.
TASTE- slightly thicker oil now, real smooth, oaky, light taste as its balanced well, spice, some chocolate, buttery and fruity. Notes of vanilla, light caramel, caramelized brown sugar, earthy with some mild nice heat.
FINISH- pleasant finish with notes of agave, light smoke, light spice, some caramel and chocolate. Smoothness turns to nice mild heat. A medium to long duration of flavors makes this tequila perfect for sipping.
Reserva de Don Adolfo Extra-Añejo- This as with quality extra anejos, is cognac-like and a fantastic sipper. Occasionally this sells for $100, but even at $125, it is a fantastic buy. I totally recommend it, and I have compared it favorably with XA's costing $60-100 more. This amazing tequila is sure to please even the most refined connoisseur. Reserva de don adolfo is made from hand-selected 8-year-old USDA organic agaves, and is aged for over 6 years in American white oak barrels. I was lucky, that my first bottle (Lot 1) came in such an elegant presentation, in a beautiful matte black box with a clear front. This XA, being in wood for so long, has a full luxurious nose, and a bold, complicated full array of flavors, is a fantastic impressive spirit, and you need to savor every sip....I know I do. It has a beautiful rich gold color with a thick body. The aromas are dominated by sweet, cognac-like, cherry, herbs and spices, vanilla/caramel and so much more.
NOSE- rich, cognac, sweet, light smoke, oak, spice, fruit with cherry aromas, and a hint of leather. Some mild alcohol, nutty, buttery, vanilla, caramel, and a pinch of cinnamon. It is light and not overbearing, while complex in aromas.
TASTE- nice medium to thicker oil, spices, oak, light pepper, sweet, nuts and vanilla. Complicated and bold but yet fairly light taste, caramel/chocolate, light smoke, some mild heat, cinnamon, smooth with fruit notes.
FINISH- a medium length smooth, sweet, nutty, spicy, fruit and mild heat finish.
Dr Murillo feels that Tequila Alquimia is his vehicle for the promotion of organics and sustainable agriculture. He teaches his organic protocol, to growers throughout Mexico, and is the tool we use to improve the quality of our soils. Murillo says "we are mindful that every decision we make will affect many generations in the future and we accept the responsibility for producing our tequila in such a way, that leaves the environment better for our efforts". Dr Murillo told me "I wanted to take as good care of our soil as my grandfather had, and his philosophy was, **"take care of our Mother Earth, and she will provide for us". After spending a good amount of time discussing Alquimia and his organic practices, I personally want to thank him for his obvious concerns, and for the amazing clean and delicious tequilas that are Alquimia. THIS is one special line of quality tequilas.
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