Raise Your Glass: Vancouver International Tequila Expo is Back

teq4In the past, Tequila may have suffered from a ‘shots and hangovers’ reputation, but those days are numbered and that’s in part thanks to the education of events like the Vancouver International Tequila Expo which rolls into town this month. It’s Western Canada’s largest festival dedicated to Tequila and Mezcal, and between May 25-30 it’s Agave Week in the city with tequila seminars, master classes and pairing dinners on offer at venues around Vancouver. This ends on Saturday May 30 with a Grand Tasting at the Hyatt Regency with 25 Tequila and Mezcal brands pouring 100% agave spirits, along with bites from Joe Fortes, La Mezcaleria, Sysco Vancouver and Mosaic Grill. We spoke to event organiser, Eric Lorenz to find out more.

What is the number one thing that people need to know about Tequila?

The thing to know is when you look at a bottle and all it says on the label is ‘Tequila‘  then it has 51% agave and the other 49% are industrial sugars and so on – and that is what is giving you the hangover. Look out for 100% agave Tequila which is a completely different drink.  The irony of tequila is that when someone drinks the 51% stuff, and they think they are drinking tequila, they get a hangover, but if you stick to 100% agave you’ll likely wake up and feel fine

teq3What’s the best way to take on the tasting room at the Tequila Expo?

We only have 100% agave tequilas at the event, if it was me, I’d start with the Tequila blancos, that’s un-aged Tequila, these have grassy, minty, herbacious notes. You’ll sometimes taste rosemary and maybe get some mild sweetness from them too. Usually they’re around 40% alcohol. It’s a good plan to start with blancos and go around the room tasting those because if you start with something aged and a little sweeter, your palate will be influenced with that and things may taste bitter. So, start with the youngest first, then taste older and then oldest, that way you can taste the evolution of the spirit in the barrel over time. If you do a vertical tasting every time, tasting the blanco, reposado and then anejo you’ll have a roller coaster and your palate will burn out fast.

What are reposados and anejos Tequilas like in comparison?

Reposados have been aged between 2-12 months in an oak barrel, you should start to taste mild vanilla, mild oak and caramel flavours coming through, but still some agave notes, you’ll still taste that herbaciousness. Then anejos have been aged between 1-3 years, you’ll taste big bold vanilla and caramel with lots more oak woody notes. Depending on whether it’s been aged in French or American oak there may be notes of coffee or dark chocolate too.

teq2What’s happening in Agave Week?

The East Van Taco Safari is already sold out but there are still tickets available to a downtown Food and Agave Safari, where we’ll be visiting five higher end places: Lift, Left Bank, Coast, Joe Fortes and Uva, pairing nice appies with Tequila and Mezcal at each stop. If you want to learn more before you come to the Grand Tasting, come to one of the seminars on the day, we’re holding Tequila 101 and Mezcal 101 seminars. You’ll taste through 8-10 spirits and get a thorough exploration of them, the geography, the process, everything!

Teq1So you can become an instant expert?

It’ll definitely help! Don’t forget to catch the cocktail contest at the Grand Tasting with Peloton de la Muerte Mezcal, where 12 of the city’s finest bartenders will battle it out to win a trip to Mexico City and Oxaca. Also, a panel of judges have already picked their top ten spirits so you can taste those at the main event and then vote for the People’s Choice. And for the first year we’ll have Legacy Liquor on-site with a store.

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