Drinks, food, Uncategorized

Artisanal Spirit

The silly season is probably the most apt time to be talking tequila: the slew of end-of-year functions and festive events bring out the wild side of even the most straight-laced of our colleagues. We all know the song with the cheery ‘tequila!’ shouted out as part of its chorus, and there are few who don’t have at least one sorry tequila tale to tell, having lined up the shot glasses with joie de vivre, only to vow, come the following morning, never again (though there always seems to be an again and again…). When the hangover’s gone and the new year begins, don’t think you’re done with tequila just yet. We’re talking artisanal tequilas that you sip (yes, sip) rather than throw down the hatch, and this is one spirit that’s leading the way as far as liquor trends go in 2012. Artisanal tequilas (small, hand-produced batches as opposed to the mass-produced stuff that mostly lines the bottle store shelves) are popping up on the drinks lists of trendy spots wherever you look, internationally and here at home, too. Interestingly, South Africa is the only other place in the world apart from Mexico where tequila is produced, specifically in the dry Karoo, Eastern Cape and Free State. Because of trademark restrictions, ours is called Blue Agave. The pure, 100 per cent agave tequilas are the ones to look out for, and our local La Muerte (‘the death’) will have you an instant convert. It’s harvested from organic wild agave plantations in the Karoo, slow fermented and quadruple distilled, and is surprisingly smooth and easy to sip (and makes exceptionally good margaritas too). There are a few to choose from: for starters, go for the classic La Muerte in the square bottle with its distinctive skull label (seriously cool – you won’t want to toss it out with the recycling), or the La Muerte Reposado, which is rested in American oak barrels. As you develop a taste for tequila, start trying others – we recommend the La Muerte Agave de Jalisco, which is craft distilled in Mexico (agavemuerte.com). Text: Leigh Robertson