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Spirit of Mexico: NM natives bring authentic tequila to the Land of Enchantment

Tepozan Tequila has been brought to the Land of Enchantment by restaurateurs and New Mexico natives Matt Hechter and Chris Brandon. (Courtesy of Tepozan Tequila)

Every time you turn around, a celebrity comes out with a new tequila.

Native New Mexicans and restaurateurs Matthew Hechter and Chris Brandon wanted something better for their home state. They wanted to bring in a high-quality product made authentically that incorporates the rich culture of Mexico, where it is made, and not the glitz and glitter of Hollywood.

“A lot of these really influential brands … they’re all using additives or they use diffusers, which is, like, a way of using acid to break down immature agave,” said Hechter, CEO of Tepozan Tequila. “So, you know, ultimately, for us, we just wanted no part of that. And we really just wanted to build something of quality. And we felt like that was much more of a long-term approach and just how we wanted to approach it. And so we partnered with the family – we have the namesake brand, which is Tepozan Tequila – at the Tepozan Distillery. Our master distiller, Carlos (Padilla), started his career as a farmer of agave. So he’s been growing Grade A Highland, amazing, incredible agave for, like, 30 years now. And so a portion of what he grows is allocated to our distillery. And so we are, like, the true farm-to-bottle tequila, one of the few.”

The business partners headed to Mexico to understand how tequila is properly made.

“They just grow it, they bake it in these horno ovens, and they use local yeast that’s on the property to ferment the agave,” said Brandon, co-CEO of Tepozan Tequila. “So you know, really, it’s just everything that’s in that bottle happens on the distillery’s land or their property. It’s right outside this town called San Julián, which is in the southern Los Altos area. It’s kind of a very prestigious area to have tequila.”

Tepozan Tequila currently offers a blanco, a reposado and an añejo. An extra añejo is in the works. The reposado is aged for four months, and the añejo is aged 14 months. Both are aged in Kentucky white oak bourbon barrels.

The unaged blanco has a lean and soft taste, with sweet grapefruit, white pepper, and star anise, with an electric midpalate. It finishes with hints of cilantro, poblano pepper and raw almond on the tongue. The reposado is round and generous with a spice oak, brown sugar and pineapple sage taste. The finish is plush and lasting with caramel, coriander and clove. The añejo is bold and smooth, with butterscotch, serrano pepper, marigold and smoked earth. It finishes with a lush and balanced nutty minerality with caramel and sweet piquant notes, according to the Tepozan website. Tepozan Tequila can be found at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm and Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe. It can be purchased at Jubilation Wine & Spirits and Total Wine. It will be available soon at Whole Foods Market, and plans to get it into more establishments and retailers around the state are in the works. It can also be purchased on the tequila’s website at tequilatepozan.com.

Tepozan Tequila is additive-free.

“I think a lot of our success we’re seeing has come from the fact that you’re starting to see the consumers more and more are way more focused on what they’re putting into their body,” Hechter said.

Hechter and Brandon met while attending high school in Las Cruces. Growing up close to the Mexican border resonated with them when they were creating Tepozan Tequila.

“Chris and I feel like that is such a missing element in tequila and mezcal, really in the United States, which is the biggest consumer, even bigger than Mexico, of these goods,” Hechter said. “There’s very little attention paid to the culture around it or how it came about or why it exists or why is it so important to Mexican culture, even to this day and age. Tequila is actually the most highly regulated spirit in the world, which most people don’t realize. And to me, what that speaks to is just how important the spirit is to Mexican identity in their culture, and how badly they want to make sure they protect it.”




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