The Spirits of Mexico Main Tasting | Like the Spirits Being Honored, This Event Only Gets Better With Age!

October 1, 2013

By Megan Gallagher | SanDiegoVille Contributor

Usually a night full of tequila is one that we can’t remember, but the Spirits of Mexico Main Tasting Event is one that we won’t soon forget. Held on September 21 in Old Town San Diego, the event was the pinnacle of a celebration of agave-based spirits, known as the annual Spirits of Mexico Festival. This year marked the festival’s 10th anniversary and just like tequila, it seems the event keeps getting better with age.

Though it is always a safe bet to find high-quality tequila in Old Town, The Spirits of Mexico Festival highlights the best spirits from across the country. More than two dozen exhibitors set up shop behind Casa de Reyes to give festival-goers a taste of a wide range of tequilas and spirits. Forget the salt and the lime, this event is all about sipping slowly and enjoying the different flavors that are brought out by various distillation methods. I know what you’re thinking, tequila and flavor aren’t usually two words that go together, but as the Spirits of Mexico Festival taught us, there is almost no limit to the diversity of this spirit.

We started out the night with a sample of Montalvo Plata, a triple distilled tequila that is bottled immediately after distillation. Earlier in the week, the spirit took home the gold medal in a blind tasting competition. As the night went on we had the chance to sample many different types of agave-based spirits. One of our favorite exhibitors was Excellia, which took home a gold medal for their Reposado. This tequila is unique in that it is aged in wine casks and cognac barrels from France. The wine casks provide a distinctively fruity note, while the cognac barrels give the spirit a deeper, smokier taste. The drink was one of the more memorable from throughout the night. Other favorites included Karma Tequila’s Blanco, which went down smooth, and Pantera Tequila which captured our attention with its unique pink color.

Being careful not to turn into lushes, we also took time to nosh on delicious appetizers provided by Casa de Reyes, including empanadas, tacos, tostadas, ceviche and, of course, churros. The festival also satisfied our sweet tooth with “Cocktail Cupcakes” from San Carlos-based bakery Harina Dulce. Their adult snacks included desserts topped with frosting made with top-shelf tequila.

Gaston Martinez making his presentation
Attendees had more than a chance to dine and drink at the event, and were invited to attend workshops and presentations by tequila aficionados and master mixologists. One of the most exciting parts of the evening was the presentation by Gaston Martinez, brand ambassador for Milagro Tequila, which received a silver award for their Blanco and Reposado products. Martinez showed us that tequila is good for a whole lot more than a margarita. A seasoned mixologist who represented the United States in 42 Below World Cup in 2012, Martinez prepared a spicy hot chocolate and an indulgent tequila sorbet. He dazzled the crowd using liquid nitrogen to transform a combination of tequila, yuzu juice, thai basil, coconut syrup, condensed milk and cumin into a one-of-a-kind dessert. Though it may be a little early, I’ve already jotted down the recipe to impress the family (and keep them merry) during the holidays.

All in all the Spirits of Mexico Main Tasting event was a great way to cap off a weeklong celebration of Mexico’s finest spirits. As one of the oldest and largest festivals for agave and other Mexican Spirits, it attracts more than 2500 attendees in New York, Chicago and San Diego each year. It is a chance for seasoned tequila drinkers to explore what’s new, and for less experienced drinkers to discover some favorites and learn more about the processes of making tequila and the culture associated with it. Here’s to hoping the event is around for another 10 years!

For more information and a full list of this year’s award winners, visit the Spirits of Mexico website at