When it comes to tequila, the term “ultra luxury” is about as overdone as the margarita. Consequently, just like the aforementioned cocktail, you need a point of differentiation and a good whack of flavor to stand out. Tequila Komos claims just that with its new Añejo Cristalinoa.
The one-of-a-kind spirit is the brainchild of hospitality heavyweight Richard Betts and his entrepreneur friend Joe Marchese. Spurred on by the lack of good tequila in Europe, the duo decided to create a beverage group, brand and spirit to challenge the status quo. Tequila Komos brings together myriad cultures, along with unique and unusual production techniques in a bid to set it apart from other top-shelf tequilas.
“Komos is crafted in a way that, in total, has never been done before,” Betts told Robb Report from a beach near Gallipoli.
The process begins in traditional fashion. Perfectly ripe agave is sourced from the rugged hills of Jalisco and then roasted in old-fashioned stone ovens that sit on the side of the Tequila Volcano in Mexico. The leftover juice is then fermented with indigenous yeasts and twice distilled in copper stills to create a Blanco that becomes the spirit’s base.
“At this point, we’ve created a special Blanco that is redolent of agave and all of the history of Tequila,” Betts says.
Here’s where things get interesting. The Blanco is aged for 12 months in French oak white wine barrels rather than whiskey barrels like other Añejos. This unconventional step, which draws on Betts’s fruitful winemaking background—he passed the Court of Master Sommeliers exam in 2003 and is considered a linchpin of the industry—stops the tequila from “tasting like whiskey”, he says, and instead imparts a more complex flavor profile.
From there, the Añejo is dripped through a charcoal column. Charcoal filtration is common within Cristalino tequila as it enhances the Añejo’s fruity and floral character while removing its color and congeners. What remains is a crystal clear, smooth tequila that packs all the taste and aroma of a barrel-aged drop.
The Cristalino is then placed in amphorae that were specially imported to Mexico. These ovular clay artifacts, which date back to the 15th century BC, were the original wine-making vessels in ancient Greece and, apparently, all Joe’s idea.
“Joe came up with this piece in a stroke of genius,” Betts explains. “We were searching for a vessel in which to aerate the Tequila via a gentle tumbling and he noted that their shape is perfect for circulating liquid.”
This entire aeration process is especially hands-on and time-consuming, but, according to Betts, completely worth it. The agitation results in a smoother, rounder and sweeter tequila. The finished product is then decanted into elegant hand-made vitrified porcelain bottles from Mexico and readied for market. Sippers can expect strong notes of agave mixed with subtle shadings of vanilla and spice from the French oak. The body and texture, meanwhile, Betts deems “incredibly special.”
“The balance is exquisite and Komos is at once rich, full and luxurious, yet light on its feet and a joy to drink.”
As for the best way to drink, Betts takes his Komos straight or over ice with a dash of sparkling water.
The pastiche of cultures and techniques found in Komos Tequila could displease purists: The brand is toying with a storied spirit that stretches all the way back to the 16th century. But Betts is less worried and more hopeful that this encourages a discussion.
“I am hopeful that we can share in a community that imagines new ways of creating flavor while respecting the sense of place and ultimately elevating what Tequila can be,” he adds.
Betts is currently balancing this dichotomy—honoring tradition yet pushing for change—within his own world. The 49-year-old recently resigned from the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas (CMSA) in the wake of the Black Live Matters movement, stating CMSA was not acting like a “progressive or inclusive organization.” Betts is hoping that the new Casa Komos Beverage Group can be a better advocate for diversity.
“We want to ensure that we have a wide variety of voices at the table and create opportunities for diverse and underserved communities,” Betts says. “We’re a small team today but we’re already making strides here, be it with our team, with our partners in Mexico, and on our board of directors. As our team grows it will include even more voices from those communities which is exciting and just so important.”
Judging by its flagship spirit, which freely blends many different cultures and techniques, the group is on the right track.
Tequila Komos is priced at $119. One of the first run bottles can be reserved here.
You can check out a video showcasing the production process below: