Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Pinterest Casa Noble founder and CEO Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo is dedicated to the pursuit of tequila worth sharing. He visited Manila last week to conduct exclusive tequila master classes to share his knowledge and passion for tequila. “We want to do things slow, with patience, with care,” he shares. As the visionary behind Casa Noble’s award-winning and sophisticated taste, Pepe pushes the boundaries of his craft while honoring family traditions passed down through seven generations of tequila makers since 1776. He says he had his first sip of tequila at “a few months old, when I was teething.” You could say that tequila has been part of his life since the beginning. He recalls the first batch of tequila Casa Noble ever made: “We made 10 cases and we threw a party and we finished all 10 cases in that night.” Now he oversees the brand’s innovative yet traditional production methods as he implements new ideas and concepts into forward practice, establishing its reputation as a tequila that sets the standard for its class. “When you’re tasting tequila, you want to have all the angles. Analyze, really go over the appearance, your nose, the palate—have conclusions.” – Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo Casa Noble’s name has a double meaning; “noble” refers to its pursuit of making the best possible tequila and also means agave in Greek. So it means both Noble House and House of Agave. A pioneer in triple distillation, the spirit is brighter and much smoother than the average tequila. “We do not add anything to Casa Noble because we believe that tequila should be pure,” says Pepe. Casa Noble distillation The tequila is crafted from estate-grown blue agave, organically grown and carefully handpicked. “Casa Noble is different because at every step we are giving it time and care,” he shares. “It’s going to be cooked very slowly. It’s going to be extracted very differently; squeezing instead of crushing. We’re going to do natural fermentation. We’re going to age it in French White Oak, and for a longer time.” Since it’s so pure and there’s no added sugar, it’s even great for diabetics since it has a low glycemic index. There’s no sugar spike and definitely no crash. Blue agave, organically grown, and carefully handpicked in Mexico Pepe also stresses the importance of aging. “Aging is important to soften it, to get more character. It adds notes to the tequila.” The barrels used also make a difference. “In the case of Casa Noble, we use only small barrels, 220-225 liter barrels. And we use French White oak to give more delicate flavors and aromas. The barrel will make the tequila more complex.” Casa Noble barrels There’s a difference between tasting and drinking tequila. “When you’re drinking tequila, yes, appreciate it. Know what you’re drinking. Sip it and enjoy,” Pepe tells us. “When you’re tasting tequila, you want to have all the angles. Analyze, really go over the appearance, your nose, the palate, have conclusions. Really analyze that tequila. What is that spirit?” Tasting begins with the proper glass. He, together with his partner Carlos Hernandez, developed the Tequila Riedel glass, which is designed to highlight the characteristics of the spirit. It’s a little bit like a champagne flute. “So you can take those aromas and really analyze those aromas.” And don’t forget to drink water to cleanse your palate. Casa Noble spirits in Tequila Riedel glass For the masterclass, they set out the Blanco (unaged), Reposado (aged in French white oak for 364 days), and the Añejo (aged in French white oak for an unprecedented two years), plus Extra Añejo as a bonus. Pepe gave the class some tips on how to taste tequila. Casa Noble Reposado, Casa Noble Añejo, Casa Noble Single Barrel Añejo, and Casa Noble Crystal (Blanco) First, start with the appearance. “It is very important to visually analyze tequila. Hold it against the light. Is it shiny or is it clear? Then hold it against a white surface, so you can see the color.” Aromas are also very important. He mentions Ana Maria Romero Mena, famous tequila sommelier, who has identified over 600 different aromas in tequila. He explains that you don’t just take a deep sniff and you’re done. The aromas are ”going to come up in different places. You want to want to smell your glass in different areas: up, bottom, one side, another. Swirl it and get more out of that spirit.” Take note of the aromas. Take a little sip. Swish it in your mouth. Put it on your gums; bring it all over your mouth. “How did that spirit feel in the palate? You want to analyze the spirit. How does it feel going down? Is it burning? Did it go down warm? That’s also important.” Then compare with the palate. Taste it. “Put a little bit on the palate and bring it through the mouth. There you can really get the spices, the minerals, the earthiness, the agave. See how long the finish is.” He also says that the finish is a marker of quality. “If the spirit doesn’t have a long aftertaste, things were added to it instead of building it.” TASTING NOTES: Casa Noble tequila BLANCO – clear with aromas of cooked agave and citrus, balanced with spices like anise and white pepper with an earthy, sweet agave, spicy, herbal taste and a velvety finish. REPOSADO – (won New York Times’ Best Spirit) light golden color with notes of vanilla, cherry, nuts, almonds, spices on the nose that are complemented by butter, spices, caramel, and vanilla on the tongue and a long, smooth finish. AÑEJO – (won Asia Best of Show) coppery gold with notes of coffee, cacao, orange peel, dried pineapple, anise, (“Like Monica Belucci in a glass,” jokes Lee Watson) an explosion of flavor with layers of toasted oak, butterscotch, along with touches of pepper, oaky spices, and citrus. Smooth, sensuous, and full-bodied. EXTRA AÑEJO – (“It was 10 to 12 years in the ground. Then we kill that plant. Plus, five years in the barrel. So this took at least 15, if not 17 years to be in this glass. So it’s a lot of patience and a lot of care.”) This limited edition tequila has deep amber color, has the best flavors of the Añejo but none of the harshness. Super smooth. Agave preparation for Casa Noble tequila With one’s first sip, it’s easy to tell that exquisite patience, precision, and care go into the creation of every bottle of the world’s finest tequila. But Pepe is not opposed to having Casa Noble in cocktails (as they even have signature cocktails). “(Making) cocktails to enhance the spirit is fantastic,” he remarks. Lee Watson, owner of Bitters, expounds on this. “Let’s say you have the Añejo. You zero in on something viable, let’s bring out the chocolate flavor. Let’s see what we can do to maybe accentuate that or bring that out or play with that flavor. You can pick the flavors that you find most pronounced and zero in on those flavors and go from there and try to use other ingredients that would match or accentuate that flavor,” Lee explains. “You don’t just do it because it’s tequila, you use ingredients which actually work with the flavors of that particular tequila.” Personally, when not sipping Casa Noble, Pepe enjoys it in simple, straightforward cocktails: with tonic, an Old Fashioned, a margarita. “And once in a while I go to a mixology bar to see what they do with it.” Casa Noble Masterclass at Bitters in BGC Considered one of the best tequilas in the world, Casa Noble has won several awards, including multiple Double Gold awards from the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition. “Best Tequila in Mexico” from the Academia Mexicana del Tequila, the New York Times’ Best Value for Taste in Blanco Tequila, and Gold Medals from the Beverage Tasting Institute. In constant pursuit of pushing the boundaries of his craft, Pepe has come up with an annual showcase Colección del Fundador, a collection of rare, limited-release tequilas. The first release, Alta Belleza, is out this year. Meaning “Highest Beauty’ in English, Alta Belleza is a Casa Noble Extra Añejo tequila that has been finished in selected wine barrels from Napa Valley’s prestigious Robert Mondavi Winery To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon. There are only 563 bottles of this beauty produced, so let’s hope a few of them reach our shores. Casa Noble Alta Belleza After the masterclass, Pepe invited media, restaurant, and bar industry guests for a tequila pairing dinner hosted by the Mexican Ambassador Julio Camarena Villaseñor held at his residence. Just like whisky pairing, tequila paired with food is in its experimental stages. Filipinos are just getting to know how to enjoy sipping tequilas, so a pairing dinner with the Mexican spirit was also a new treat. Chef Justin Cruis from Diamond Hotel created the Mexican dishes and they paired well with Casa Noble Blanco, Reposado, and Añejo, with an addition of the special Extra Añejo for dessert. Casa Noble Founder and CEO Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo and Mexican Ambassador Julio Camarena Villaseñor For the first course, Ceviche, the popular Mexican seafood dish (made from fresh raw shrimp mixed with chopped onions, cilantro, tomatoes, bell pepper, green chili, lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper) was paired with clear unaged Casa Noble Blanco, which complemented the citrus notes of the dish and saltiness from the shrimp. It was followed by the Mole Taquito, a traditional Mexican roast chicken taquito placed over a grilled slice of zucchini topped with chocolate mole sauce. This dish was paired with Casa Noble Reposado; the light woody notes, spices, and natural sweetness of the golden spirit worked well with the poultry dish. The main course was a four-hour Slow-Cooked Beef Barbacoa (mixed with Mexican spices placed over a red wine risotto topped with green, red and yellow bell pepper sautéed with cheddar cheese) paired with the full bodied Añejo. The savory flavors of the beef and the cheese enhanced the woodsy oak notes of the Añejo. The special Extra Añejo bottle was paired with Pastel de Chocolate, a baked moist chocolate cake topped with melted dark chocolate and cashew nuts. The chocolate flavors of the dessert brought out the distinct sweetness and smoked flavors of the tequila. The delicately smooth Extra Añejo was already an elegant treat to end the dinner but the addition of the dessert made the experience richer. Ceviche Mole Taquito Barbacoa Pastel De Chocolate The dinner also showcased some cocktails that worked perfectly for each Casa Noble bottle. The Casa Noble team created a refreshing Margarita (Blanco), sweet Paloma (Reposado), and the smoky Noblesman (Añejo) that has a distinct finish from the woody notes of the Añejo. Margarita (Blanco), Paloma (Reposado), and Noblesman (Añejo) Casa Noble is not just tequila. It’s history, culture, innovation, and the whole experience of enjoying an exceptional spirit made with passion and dedication. Margarita made with Casa Noble Crystal, Cointreau, lime juice, and sugar syrup Paloma made with Casa Noble Reposado, grapefruit juice, lime juice, agave syrup Noblesman made with Casa Noble Añejo, Martini Rosso, Angostura bitters, agave syrup, coffee, and chocolate powder Casa Noble Tequila is available at all Rustan’s branches, selected S&R, Robinson’s and SM branches, and other liquor shops nationwide. You may also order online via gurkka.com. For those who are really passionate about their tequila, Casa Noble can also create a single barrel for special orders.