The Art Of Tequila

Diana Jimenez knows a thing or two about tequila. But given that she’s a certified Tequila Master perhaps she should. But the flame-inducing Mexican beverage was not always at the center of Jimenez’s life. Having been crowned Miss Mexico at the Miss American Continent beauty pageant she spent eight years working as a professional model. Now though, as the brand ambassador for Casa Centinela – Mexico’s best-selling tequila, she is bringing her expert knowledge to The Voice Tribune’s Third Thursday After-Work Party in the heart of bourbon country, hoping to convert a few to the ways of the agave.

THE VOICE TRIBUNE: You spent a number of years competing in  pageants and were a model for eight years, what made you switch careers and move into tequila?

DIANA JIMENEZ: I am from the Highlands of Jalisco, which is the premier region for where a lot of great Mexican tequilas are produced. Being Mexican and Alteña (highlander), tequila was always present in my life and traditions. When I was representing my country I had the opportunity to talk about all the great things that are part of our nation, I now feel that I represent my country through our gift to the world which is obviously great tequila.

VOICE-TRIBUNE: Were you someone who learned to appreciate tequila or was it something you discovered later on?

JIMENEZ: I have always enjoyed tequila.  You can say it was love at first sip. I was introduced to great tequilas and once I became more educated about the production process and the history I fell even more in love with it.

VOICE-TRIBUNE: You’re a certified Tequila Master. What does it take to become a tequila master? 

JIMENEZ: It takes a lot of time, education and effort. Every seminar and class that I have taken gives me more knowledge and it´s been like this through the years. I crave for information. I am always asking the experts about the tequila. I like to read the newspapers, I ask people that work in the distillery, you can always learn something new. But what  was more important for me was that I received my certification from the Regulatory Council of Tequila, a governmental institution that controls, certifies and establishes the rules for tequila.

VOICE-TRIBUNE: For people who are new to tequila, what should they look for when buying?

JIMENEZ: There are lots of requirements for something to be called tequila and often people don’t realize this.

Firstly, everything is on the label. If it doesn’t say “tequila”, it’s not tequila. It might be mezcal, stool or another other agave distilled spirit but it’s not tequila. Also you should look for the “NOM” as every bottle of tequila has a four digit NOM number that specifies the distillery that produced it. Also never mistake good tequila because it’s in a pretty package or bottle. Those two rarely go together.  Me personally,  I prefer 100% blue agave tequila as opposed to those made with 51% agave sugar and 49% from other sources of sugar. The one made with all the sugars from the agave will have great notes. You’ll feel much more pleasant the next day.

VOICE-TRIBUNE:  You will be at The Voice-Tribune Third Thursday After Work Party. What do attendees have in store?

JIMENEZ: They should be expecting a lot of fun. We will present our brands and I will talk about them and hope to educate about all of our tequilas. I can tell you that they will fall in love with tequila just like I did.

VOICE-TRIBUNE: Is this your first time in Louisville? Are you excited?

 JIMENEZ: It is my first time and I am very excited, I have heard great things about it and I can’t wait to be there. I would love to have some time to check out the city and really want to pay a visit to a bourbon distillery.

VOICE-TRIBUNE: Louisville is indeed bourbon country, so you’re giving yourself quite a challenge to convert folks to tequila.

JIMENEZ: I know it’s going to be a great challenge, but the best thing for people is to have choices. I will be bringing my tequila and I can exchange that for some great bourbons. I am sure when they taste our tequila people will see the quality and amazing flavors.

VOICE-TRIBUNE: Casa Centinela tequila is made in an artisanal and boutique way, could you describe what makes that method so unique and different from other tequilas?

JIMENEZ: We use only traditional methods to produce our tequila. It’s old school tequila made by the book. We don’t use any top technology, or machinery. We use clay ovens to cook our agaves instead of stainless steel ovens, the way we extract our agaves is resembling the tahona movement, we distill our Tequilas in stainless steel alembics with copper coil and we age our Tequila in American white oak barrels that are 200 liters each.

VOICE-TRIBUNE: Most people associate tequila simply with drinking shots, but what would you advise people who want to enjoy it in a different way? Any other serving suggestions?

JIMENEZ: Overcome your fears and don´t think of that bad night in college. What you probably had was a bad quality tequila so give it a  shot. No pun intended. The best way to drink it is to sip it in a special riedel glass. You can also drink it in a champagne snifter, In Mexico we drink the “paloma” (dove), which is grapefruit soda, lime, salt and ice, we also have the “sangrita” (blood) which is an orange based spicy juice that chases the tequila. You can also pair tequila. The Blancos tequila usually goes with fish or salad or delicious ceviche, the Reposados tend to have more sweeter notes and pair great with steak, carnitas, pasta or chicken. The Añejo is used best as a digestive, neat or in the rocks because of its complexity.

Diana Jimenez will be at The Voice-Tribune’s Third Thursday After-Work Party, courtesy of Casa Centinela on Thursday, August 15, at Manny and Merle’s, 122 W. Main Street, 5.30 p.m. – 8.30 p.m.