Founder Brad Hoover, who'd had a long love affair with whiskey, "wanted to do something a little different," Kato explains. So he found a tequila distiller who'd made his name in Mexico for his estate-grown spirits -- "estate-grown is very important these days," says Kato -- and began creating the Corrido line.
Hoover made a good choice. "The distiller is OCD," Kato notes. "He's harvesting his own agave, making his own yeast, doing his own compost and doing closed tank fermentation." And as a result, he's making juice that's well-received and unique.
That line starts with a floral, sweet blanco that's distinct from many of the other tequilas on the market, mostly thanks to its terroir. Within Mexico, tequila is a tightly controlled term applied only to precisely made blue agave spirits from a very small part of the country. "Most of the big tequila producers are in the lowlands" around the city of Tequila in Jalisco, Kato explains. "Those tequilas are spicy and herbal. Corrido is in the highlands, and the agave up there makes the tequila more floral and sweet."
Despite the drink's smoothness, she's adamant that the distiller doesn't add agave sugar back into the mix (a common practice with other distillers), nor does the blanco spend any time aging before it's bottled.
To make the reposado, though, that blanco spends three months each in two different barrels: It goes first into a Jack Daniels barrel, and is finished in a Maker's Mark barrel. Why? "We tasted it out of the Jack Daniels barrel after three months, and it was god-awful," laughs Kato. "So we put it in a Maker's barrel, and this is what we ended up with. We tested it in a spirits competition and it won double gold, so we decided to stick with it." The result is smooth, sweet and heavy on butterscotch and caramel, showcasing what Kato calls "the love affair between tequila and whiskey."
But the real whiskey drinker's tequila is the Añejo. "After spending time in the Jack and Maker's barrel, it goes into a third barrel that the distiller won't disclose," she says, admitting that it's probably a whiskey barrel. That adds depth and spiciness to the tequila, but the tequila is still a smooth, sweet spirit. Corrido also makes an extra Añejo -- which spends three years in a Maker's barrel -- that further deepens that comparison.
The brand launched in Arizona, but Kato took over the operations after Hoover died suddenly last year. And since Kato lives here, she's working hard to grow the tequila in this state, a particularly good tequila market.
Sample the Corrido marks in a flight at Lola, a cocktail at Zolo or at several upcoming events. Tequila Corrido is hosting a block party in front of Amendment XXI in the Lower Highland neighborhood on April 28; you'll be able to score free samples of the tequila and buy tacos from Pinche Tacos, too. And Steuben's is hosting a Cinco De Cinco party on May 5 -- which promises to be mellow when compared with the raucous parties happening elsewhere around town -- that will spotlight the Corrido line in five different $5 Mexican cocktails plus a tequila julep, since Cinco de Mayo happens to coincide with the Kentucky Derby.