I associate tequila with wild college parties and torturous, hung-over mornings. Arriving at the J.W. Marriot hotel in San Antonio, TX, where the Herradura Tequila tasting was going down confused me. Are we having a wild tequila party in one of the classiest hotels in Texas? If so, bring it on. I’ve partied at classy joints before and I am up to the challenge.
Even more impressive than this castle-like hotel was the fact that hall-of-fame running back Emmitt Smith was going to be the host of the event. “Great!,” I thought, partying with a legend. Let the shots begin. One thought stuck in my mind. Emmitt never struck me as the tequila type. OchoCinco or Bam Margera definitely. Heck, even David Hasselhoff seemed like a better fit as a spokesman for tequila. Emmit always seamed classy and refined, a gentlemen of sorts. Well, either my opinion of Emmitt Smith was about to change, or my opinion of tequila.
As the tequila tasting began I was educated as to the long history of Herradura tequila. This included the history of Jalisco, also known as “Tequila Country,” where tequila is made. The aging process in custom-made oak barrels was explored as well as the seven year harvesting process of the blue agave which is the soul of tequila. Clearly, more went into Herradura tequila than I’d known. This was all well and good but I couldn’t help looking around for the guest of honor, Emmitt Smith. When would the party really begin?
Next came the tasting. As I sat down at the table set with tasting glasses, I had to fight back the urge to start tossing back some shots. I watched the restraint of the other guests while the numerous glasses of tequila in front of us beckoned. Each glass represented various grades and barrels of Herradura. It comes in Silver, Reposado, Anejo, and the most exclusive Seleccion Supremo.
Finally, Emmitt arrived and sat down right next to me. His knowledge of tequila was impressive. He informed me that the tasting today was of the Double Barrel Reposado. Then he casually rattled off what this entailed. Double Barrel Herradura is created from a three-step process. First, the weber agave tequila rests in toasted-oak barrels for eleven months. Then the tequila matures for an additional month in a new toasted-oak barrel. Finally, the master-distiller must taste, approve, and authenticate each barrel for bottling on the estate. I couldn’t help myself. I joked “I wonder how you go about applying for that job.” Emmitt looked over to see who had interrupted him. Then he cracked a smile. “I don’t know but count me in.” Alright. “Emmitt Smith’s got a sense of humor,” I thought. This was definitely going to be a good night.
The Herradura official international spokesmen looked much more formal than Emmitt who was genuinely having a good time by now. He informed me that the objective of this event was both to educate the public about Herradura and sell some barrels. I let him know I was definitely learning a lot about tequila, but as for purchasing a barrel … well, lets just say at $8,200 per barrel of Reposado, I’ll be sticking to the bottles. Ok, who am I kidding? I’ll be sticking to Tecate but if someone else is buying or it’s time for birthday shots. I’ll definitely be lining up some Herradura. That’s right, high-end tequila like anything else high-end is expensive, but often quite worth the cost. Just like a fine wine, top-end tequila like Herradura is pricey. With that said, this is some absurdly smooth tequila and as uneducated as I’ll admit my palate to be, it’s well worth every cent.
As if Emmit Smith couldn’t get more cool, he even gave me a sip of the Seleccion Supremo he had in his own tasting glass. It’s amazing how far a couple jokes can take you. Just fyi, Barrels of Seleccion Supremo sell for approximately $100,000 a pop. Now that’s some smooth tequila. Even Emmitt admitted the wife only let him keep a couple barrels of Reposado around the house. Smart man.
As Emmitt finished educating the table about the aging process of tequila he also quickly recounted the story of how he found himself in a hotel bar one night asking for some Jose Cuervo. That’s right, Emmitt Smith used to drink Jose. Well, that’s one tequila company kicking themselves that that hotel was out of their product. Finding out they were out of Jose, the bartender quickly suggested Herradura Silver and the rest is history. Emmitt found he really loved it and eventually took it upon himself to contact Herradura to let them know how impressed he was with their product. As you can imagine, Herradura jumped at the opportunity to associate their product with a legend and all-around good-guy like Emmitt.
I, for one, am a believer. Yes, I have a barrel in Herradura tequila country with my name on it. No, the people at Herradura are not unaware of this, but it’s still mine in my mind. I’ll order that barrel one day and tell my children how I made Emmitt Smith laugh as we sipped tequila together. Chances are this barrel won’t be ordered today. Chances are this barrel won’t be ordered tomorrow, but it’ll be ordered some day and for the rest of my life I’ll be drunk.