The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2016

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october 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  77 done just that. The proof is in the hardware: 6 Degree took home Double Golds for its Blanco and Reposado expres- sions, Best Blanco Tequila, Best Reposado Tequila and Best of Show Tequila for its Reposado at the 2016 Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) Convention & Expo. Coming into the competition with very few expectations, he couldn't believe it when his distiller told him that he made the awards case: "When I saw the two bottles, I was very happy to be acknowledged; I didn't know what we had even won at that point." These award-winning tequilas start with Weber blue agave grown in the Highlands of Jalisco. Before aging, the juice is triple-distilled. The Blanco rests in stainless steel tanks for less than two months. "This expression is tequila in its purest form," he explains. "It's my favorite due to its crisp, agave- forward nature." Beyond these notes, layers of vanilla and spice lead into a dry finish. The Reposado, which floored judges at this year's WSWA, rests in French oak barrels for eight months. To choose these casks, the distiller shaved a paper-thin slice of the wood for Cimino and had him chew it, telling him the pepper notes in the oak would transferred to the tequila. These flavors shine in the expression against vanilla and cinnamon. When creating the brand, Cimino envisioned slowly sipping the tequila while on his back porch in autumn, sitting next to his wife. The only issue was his wife wasn't a big fan of tequila. "Tequila has this stigma of being a man's drink," he says. "I wanted to create something that would cross the gender barrier." To accomplish this feat, he chose Jack Daniel's American oak barrels as the vessels to age his Añejo in, imparting a backdrop of caramel, strong oak and unsweetened chocolate into each bottle. When taste tested, Cimino has found roughly 90 percent of female consumers enjoy the tequila. To introduce these expressions to the world and to spread the word, Cimino holds monthly events at his house in Warwick, NY. "I wanted an intimate way to show people my brand," Cimino continues. "I didn't just want to go into a bar and have them taste the product. I wanted to invite the tastemakers into my home and build a relationship with these loyal ambassadors. That way, I can slowly branch out through them." At these gatherings, he finds the brand's name really fits, since guests discover how they are con- nected to each other within few steps through mutual acquaintances. This deliberate strategy of slow expansion is a theme that Cimino talks about frequently. He wants to maintain quality and a passion for the product, so he has taken a "little step by little step" approach to overall growth. Currently, his focus remains in on-premise accounts, because he believes his tequila needs to be taught to the consumer, and since he "cannot be at every bar," he relies on the bartenders and mixologists—whom he has educated through programs—to enrich the customer experience with the juice. The story of 6 Degree is not just one of tequila; it's one that exemplifies that the American dream is still alive. "From my humble beginnings, I could have never done what I have done in another country," Cimino remarks. "I feel blessed that I am surrounded by people who fell in love with product and bottle. I started getting funds based on just a drawing on a piece of paper." Upon tasting 6 Degree Tequila, both you and your guests will also feel fortunate that Joseph Cimino decided to take the risk and come to the U.S. PHOTO COURTESY OF SIX DEGREES TEQUILA Every month, Joseph Cimino, owner of 6 Degree Tequila, invites tastemakers into his home in Warwick, NY, to learn more about his brand. PHOTO: MICHAEL SPADAFINA 6 Degree Tequila is made with Weber blue agave grown in the Highlands of Jalisco.

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