August 23, 2017

Cross of the Sun

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Although wine is my expertise, I’m an aficionado of all types of tasty beverages. And one item that I enjoy in particular is good quality tequila.

While out wine tasting one recent afternoon, I managed to be in the right place at the right time and was able to taste some tequila that I can simply describe with one word: outstanding! Not only was it a taste treat, but it turned out to be a locally owned label, and is my feature for this month, Cruz del Sol Tequila.

While the full name of the brand may be Cruz del Sol, it’s simply referred to as Cruz. It’s the brainchild of two brothers, Saulo and Joseph “Pep” Katcher, and their longtime college friend, Todd Nelson. The brothers Katcher hail from Guadalajara originally. Their family moved to Washburn, North Dakota when they were small children, which is where they grew up. Both brothers decided to attend Arizona State University after high school, where they met Todd, who comes from Wisconsin and Wyoming. The three men combined have extensive experience in the world of business, have run a number of small companies, and have longtime ties to the Arizona community.

The Cruz story goes that one afternoon about four years ago the men were hanging out around Pep’s pool with a few friends sipping some tequila and talking about old times. The bottle ran out and they went to go buy some more. The owner of the liquor store raved about a particular brand and said they had to try it. When they got the bottle home and had a few sips, they were all in agreement that the stuff tasted lousy. One of them remarked that they could probably make better tequila themselves, and by the end of the day all were in agreement that they should do so.

Saulo contacted a cousin named Ramon who worked in the tequila industry, and the project was off and running. The men talked with several distilleries over a three year period tasting sample after sample from different production runs before finally deciding on a recipe which they produce under agreement with the El Viejito distillery located in the town of Atotonilco in the Jalisco highlands.

Pep, Saulo, and Todd run the American portion of the business, and cousins Ramon and Diego take care of operations in Mexico. Like all premium tequilas, Cruz uses only the Weber blue agave as its raw material. The piñas are harvested and baked in a traditional horno oven instead of the autoclave steaming many producers now use. The piñas are gently milled and the agave sap fermented, distilled twice, then aged for several months in used bourbon barrels to produce a reposado grade tequila. The product then goes through a proprietary filtering process which produces a light colored, smooth flavored finish.

The product is packaged in hand-blown glass bottles produced from recycled materials, and features a distinctive aluminum cross on the bottle, as well as the metal capped cork. Too often people say they’ve had a bad experience with tequila. The motto shared at Cruz Tequila is that too many people have had an experience with bad tequila.

There’s no need to worry about that here, as the drink is exceptional. Several awards have been coming their way since launching as a result, including a 2009 gold medal at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It’s not all about the beverage though; the company is also actively involved in the local community, and gives 7% of its profits to various charities.

As a tequila aficionado, I cannot recommend this product enough. Cruz has classic agave flavor, with a mellow reposado sweetness, and a very smooth finish. It’s a company that supports local industry and the community in both Arizona and Mexico. Look for it at select retailers in the state, as well as upscale bars and resorts. Also check out their website at www.cruztequila.com.

As always, enjoy responsibly.

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