When David Suro-Piñera opened Tequilas, his haute-Mexican 16th and Locust spot, he was struck by the lack of knowledge and respect that tequila received in the American market. Determined to take the agave-based spirit out of the salt-shot-lime shadow and into the civilized-sipping spotlight, Suro-Piñera founded Siembra Azul, a small-batch tequila distillery, in 2007. More than 20 years in the making, the path to Siembra Azul — which translates as “blue harvest” — was long in the incubation process. Suro-Piñera’s agave farm is located in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico’s premier tequila region, located near the Pacific coast just northwest of Mexico City.
“Are you familiar with terroir?” Suro-Piñera asks. It’s the romantic term that more or less means “a sense of place expressed though taste,” and it has everything to do with tequila production.
Siembra Azul is made from blue agave grown in the highlands, approximately 7,200 feet above sea level. Due to the drier, colder climate, the agave plants mature less quickly, allowing them to develop a higher sugar content. This sweeter agave makes for a more complex tequila, one with more fruity, herbaceous and floral notes than ones grown in Jalisco’s lowlands.
For the past six years, Suro-Piñera has been importing three of his tequilas: an unaged blanco and two barrel-aged options, a three-month-rested reposado and an 18-month-aged añejo.
This week, he’s introducing two extra añejo offerings to the market. One is the super-mellow Piñera Extra Añejo, which has been aging in charred French oak since 2005. Suro, Siembra Azul’s other new addition, gets treated a little differently than other tequilas. The majority of aged tequilas are rested in American or French oak barrels previously used for bourbon, whiskey or Cognac production. Suro-Piñera, however, opted for virgin casks made from oak harvested in the Ozarks. The virgin barrels don’t bring in flavors from other spirits. “Just the pure expression of oak and agave from Jalisco,” explains Suro-Piñera.
Both Suro and Piñera Extra Añejo will be available through special liquor order from state stores and online beginning this week.
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