Everyone wants to have a passion in life. We are told that having a passion makes us unique and makes our lives more fulfilling, makes our days pass with a greater sense of satisfaction. Jose Valdez has a passion, and that passion is tequila.
Who is Jose Valdez? He is the Master Distiller, Production Manager and Taster of Partida Tequila, the top-quality tequila that is taking the American market by storm. Mr. Valdez throws all of his youthful energy, intelligence and insight into Partida, putting care and thought into each and every step of his product—from production to consumption.
Mr. Valdez joined Partida in 2004, when the brand was in its infancy. Coming from a background in engineering, Jose found himself involved in all areas of the company, but began focusing on the distilling process. He moved to Amatitan, Mexico (located near the cities of Guadalajara and Tequila) and “lived” at Partida’s distillery.
“At that time it was a small distillery,” Mr. Valdez says. “I spent three years working every day, developing the formula, the recipe and establishing the quality of the tequila. Suddenly I became an expert, and three years ago we moved to a distillery in Tequila, which is three times the capacity of our initial operation.”
In order to ensure that Partida produced nothing but high-end tequila, the most important part of the distilling process that Mr. Valdez implemented was using the cleanest and easiest to control stainless steel ovens on the market. Using stainless steel ovens allowed Mr. Valdez and his team to cook their agaves (aged 7-10 years), evenly and slowly.
“You don’t need to create a new recipe when making tequila,” explains Mr. Valdez. “If you want to be efficient, you can use the stone ovens to cook the agaves as fast as possible. With the stainless steel ovens, you can really control the process and focus on the flavors to create the best taste possible.”
Partida delivers their tequila in four different grades: Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, and Elegante. The Blanco is the “purest expression of tequila” and only rests in stainless steel tanks for two weeks before it is bottled. The Reposado is aged for six months, which is on the longer end of the spectrum for that specific tequila grade, in Jack Daniels bourbon barrels. The Añejo (which means aged for a year) is also stored in Jack Daniels barrels, but is allowed to rest for a year and half—again at the longer end of the spectrum. Finally, the Elegante is aged forty months, which gives it a quality closer to a cognac.
Mr. Valdez doesn’t just know how to make the tequila; he also knows how it should be consumed. Over the years, he has taken tasting courses in order to expand his understanding of the way different culinary approaches and techniques work with his tequila. During the past six months, he has hosted pairing dinners in California and New York to show how each grade of Partida complements specific foods and courses.
“The Blanco is perfect for fresh appetizers like ceviche or a good salad with fruit and citrus,” says Mr. Valdez. “The Reposado is better for complex flavors that come with grilled tuna, beef and steak, as well as strong Mexican plates that highlight mole. Añejo is perfect for dark, rich chocolates. And the Elegante makes a nice fit with tres leches.”
It’s no secret that we at The Manual are big fans of tequila. With brands like Partida, the liquor is experiencing a renaissance that is hard to ignore. And with passionate, multi-talented distillers and producers, like Jose Valdez, behind the scenes it’s easy to see why we could very well be entering the Golden Age of Tequila.
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