The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2012

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Page 117 of 140

BEHIND THE SCENES Considering that he gets his kicks from climbing up the icy crevasses of Mount Rainier, hitting the local surf or jumping out of airplanes when he's not engaged in the competitive off-road racing circuit in Mexico, that's no small goal. Yet the passion and zeal that Riley has for life is synthesized into his tequilas rather seamlessly, which is why its current ad campaign can carry the tagline "Celebrate the Adventures of Life" without a trace of irony. The reason for this, of course, is due to the fact that the tequilas that Azuñia puts out are excellent. Made from aged Weber blue agave cultivated from the fertile volcanic fi elds of Jalisco, Mexico, Azuñia's Platinum Blanco, Reposado and Añejo tequilas are distilled by slow-roasting the plants in traditional clay ovens for 36 hours and deploying natural, yeast-free fermentation. In the case of their Reposado and Añejo, the liquid receives additional aging in American oak barrels. The results of such craftsmanship are spirits that boast uncommonly bold, pro- nounced fl avors and textures that tend to be minimized in other tequilas. According to Riley, the process behind the creation of the libations and their resultant quality allows the brand to be able to roll out a marketing strategy involving off-road vehicles and sports legends such as professional surfer Sunny Garcia or NBA Hall-of-Famer Bill Walton without fear of delving into a realm of gimmickry. "We have always been authentic with everything we've done with our tequilas," Riley explains. "While some people may be drawn in by the campaign or by our bottle, they will come back to us based on the merit of what's in the bottle. At the end of the day, that is our goal." We wrap up our offi ce chat—in which Riley confesses his next caper most likely involves the climbing of California's imposing Mt. Shasta or Alaska's massive Denali—and head downstairs. The band has taken a smoke break, their winsome sounds replaced by the bluesy din of the latest Black Keys record. Riley transforms from free- wheeling executive to polished bartender— the lounge area adjacent to the recording studio has a bar, natch—and pours his trio of Azuñia tequilas. As I sip, my eyes dart around the space and take inventory of the random parapher- nalia Riley has accumulated through his swashbuckling journeys—a pair of auto- graphed boxing gloves here, a Grateful Dead set list recently secured from Walton there, off-road racing gear perched on almost every shelf—and struggle to remember that this is technically a workplace. And consid- ering Jim Riley's indomitable zest for unique experiences, he probably wouldn't have it any other way. TASTING NOTES Azuñia Platinum Blanco Intense peppery notes augmented with slight hints of mango greet you on the nose, which give way to a rich, creamy vanilla essence on the palate that gently lingers on the drink's long, smooth fi nish. Azuñia Reposado Hints of pepper underscore fi rm vegetal aromatics, setting the stage for meaty, buttery notes that set an autumnal mood on the palate before fi nishing smoothly and slowly. Azuñia Añejo A very clean aroma wafts from this remarkably viscous beverage, and its thickness rests on the palate emitting satisfying caramel notes before coming to a slow, buttery end. november 2012 / the tasting panel / 117 Jim Riley hanging in the Azuñia Tequila recording studio with local country rock band Angel and the Badman. We have always been authentic with every- thing we've done with our tequilas."

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