One of the benefits of doing this blog and actively using the new tools of social media is that once in a while I’m able to get my hands on a tequila that’s not yet available in my state. This was the case with Inocenté. I was introduced to the brand through Twitter but with its availability only in the New York/New Jersey market, getting a bottle at my local store was not a possibility. To my surprise, the company shipped me a bottle that arrived last week, unsolicited and with no strings attached. In speaking with Bruce Rekant, President and CEO of In The Black Beverage Corp., the owner and importer of the Inocenté brand, the company understands the role that the internet plays in this new age of marketing to help get the word out. Between this and their always prompt replies to my questions, Inocente gets a gold star for their customer service – a great introduction to the brand and I haven’t even tasted it yet.
Having the chance to speak with Bruce at length, our conversation touched on both the Inocenté brand as well as the tequila industry as a whole and the one thing that continually struck me is that he has a passion for tequila. Obviously, for his brand, but moreso for the spirit itself. I’ve included highlights of our conversation as well as my thoughts on the tequila itself below.
About the Brand
The name Inocenté (“Innocent”) was chosen because it best describes the vision and style of the tequila that the company had in mind when they set out to produce it. Clean, crisp and light, with the aromatics still intact and noteworthy. Bruce described it as “purposefully clean and light, specifically made for those times that you don’t want a more traditional, heavy and full-bodied tequila.”
About the Distillery
With the company based in New York and without ownership of any agave sources, the important decision of selecting a distillery and agave source had to be made. The company met with well over 20 distilleries before finally deciding on La Cofradia (NOM 1137 – Casa Noble, Señor Rio, Amate). According to Bruce, there were three reasons that La Cofradia was the clear choice. First, they had the estate-owned and controlled agave fields that the company was looking for and they had the capacity to handle the additional production requirements. Second, they were completely open to working with the group to create a tequila to their specifications and allow the company to retain ownership of the formula, rather than just taking a distillery’s standard recipe and putting it in a different bottle with a new label. And third, La Cofradia was already moving towards green and sustainable production methods. No herbicides or pesticides in the fields, additives in the tequila and they had already began composting the shredded agave for use as fertilizer. While Inocenté is essentially organic (as is Casa Noble, USDA certified), it does not yet carry that designation due to the significant extra cost. As previously mentioned, the agaves are estate grown and are sourced from both La Cofradia’s highland fields as well as from their lowland fields, making for a somewhat unique combination of highlands mineral and sweet notes, toned down slightly with the addition of the lowland fruit. Bruce believes that this is one of the only high-end tequilas that combines highland and lowland piñas in this way.
About The Bottle
Made from 100% recycled glass, the blue bottles are hand-blown and were designed to see extended duty once the tequila is gone. The shape of the bottle is unique in that it takes a traditional tall, squared-off bottle design and physically gives it a twist, not unlike what you can envision happening to a bottle when trying to unscrew a stubborn lid. The stopper is natural cork and the labels are easily peeled off with soap and water to add to the life-after-tequila use of the bottle. This unique design together with the clear-to-blue transitional glasswork gives it an interesting and appealing look whether sitting on a shelf at the liquor store or at home as a decorative vase.
About The Tequila
I already mentioned that the agaves are a combination of highland and lowland. Inocenté is also a triple-distilled product, which in theory removes some of the harshness many tequilas have. The juice is also run through a micro-oxygenation cycle where tiny air bubbles are introduced reportedly removing additional impurities before the final product is bottled or barreled. In the case of the Platinum blanco, this results is a smooth, slightly sweet tasting silver that has a nice mouthfeel – warm and slightly chewy but not overly so. There’s no overwhelming sense of alcohol at any point, just clean and smooth without any significant burn on the relatively short finish. As a mixer, bartenders and mixologists should love this tequila. It’s clean base is a great canvas on which flavors can be built without having the tequila too overpowering, but at the same time, it’s not so neutral that its flavors will get lost either.
While this tequila may not have the exotic flavor profile that some tequila drinkers look for, it still should have appeal to the true aficionados out there and definitely hits the mark for what the company was trying to produce. This is a great bottle for those people that swore off tequila years ago or are becoming interested in sipping their tequila straight. It’s also a perfect option for the Patrón drinking crowd that is now having their eyes opened to other brands because of the emergence of Avion (with a suggested retail of $44, it should also be less expensive than Patrón in most stores). Inocenté has been available in New York and New Jersey since June of 2009 and with additional distribution deals recently finalized, bottles can also now be found in Tennessee, California and Arizona. Bruce noted that “We’ll continue to expand its distribution into more states, but it will be done in a slow and controlled fashion.” In addition, Inocenté will also be releasing a reposado and an añejo (18 months in JD barrels) within the next 6-12 months.
This is a tequila that I enjoyed drinking and would definitely recommend trying. To me, it’s a great choice for cocktails, summer afternoons and especially those nights when you’re debating over having a glass of tequila or not. It should do very well with American palettes, as long as people are willing to try it and then find it in the stores. Inocenté’s challenge is that it’s breaking into a very crowded category and competing with equally-priced “hip” brands. Personally, I hope that Inocenté does well if for no other reason then that there’s passion behind the brand instead of just an exit strategy.
Inocenté’s Website: http://www.inocentetequila.com/
Tequila reviewed in this post was provided.