The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2014

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Page 29 of 134

28  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2014 28 /  the tasting panel  / july 2014 "T here is no marketing value to the truth," explains Ben Leyva, co- founder of Don Benito Tequila. "It's just the truth. And if you're looking for marketing, our story's pretty boring—but it's a true story, and we stand behind it." While Leyva is right in that today's industry professional can see past mar- keting bells and whistles, we do happen to think there's something interesting behind the story of Don Benito, which has been available in the U.S. for the past six years and is produced by Leyva's partners, who have 75 years of Tequila production experience in Los Altos, Jalisco. "My family goes back generations in Mexico, but I was born a second-gen- eration here in the U.S," explains Leyva. "But I used to spend my childhood summers working on my uncle's ranch south of Los Altos. I'd count cattle and ride horseback all day, and we used to fill our canteens from a well my uncle had on his land. The water was always really sweet and cold and my uncle told me that it fed Lago de Chapala, which was not too far away. After drinking it all summer, by the time I got back to El Paso, the tap water tasted awful to me." Fast-forward 50 years, and Leyva still had that water in mind when he decided, now as an investment banker working in Mexico, to venture into the tequila business. He had geologists take a sightline from the distillery to where his uncle's ranch used to be. "It was only seven or eight miles south," he says. "We hit water about 200 feet down, and it's our natural spring water melded with our premium Weber agave that really gives our additive free tequila its pure, clean character." The simple truth, it turns out, works: Don Benito Reposado recently won Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, while the Silver took home Silver. Made from plants that are irrigation-raised without fertilizers, the tequila is distilled with charcoal-filtered spring water. "It's the purest tequila we can make," says Levya. "I know you hear claims like that all the time, and it's easy to tune that out, but our claim remains: honesty in production, honesty in the bottle and finally, honesty in price for a premium tequila." Levya's crisp, clear and classic tequila expressions—Don Benito Silver, Reposado and Añejo—make the case for honesty that speaks for itself in the glass. "I would like to meet someone who drinks and appreciates premium tequila that doesn't like our product," says Leyva with a smile. "So far, I have not met that person." —Breanne DeMore Truth in Tequila DON BENITO TEQUILA FINDS HONESTY IN WATER ARTISANAL SPOTLIGHT

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