On Dec. 5, 1933, Congress formally repealed prohibition in the United States. Fourteen years after the eighteenth amendment was ratified, Americans were able to legally purchase and consume alcohol once more.
Prohibition had staggering effects on the American spirits industry. Home brews, furtively concocted by Americans across the country, replaced prominent brands. Some entrepreneurial individuals began sneaking alcohol over the Mexican border, the beginning of what would become a long nationwide relationship with the fine spirit.
Today, tequila calls to mind inebriated college students. Brent Hocking, founder and CEO of DeLen Tequila, wants to change this perception.
"In my experience in Mexico, the tequila itself is far more elegant than you can imagine," Hocking tells the Daily Ticker. "I wanted to bring that to the consumer and felt that there was a real niche and a real marketplace for that today."
Hocking will debut 10,000 limited-edition Leona tequila bottles on Dec. 21 in conjunction with the end of the Mayan calendar. The 750-milliliter bottle will retail for $825, or about $90 a shot. While some may balk at the price tag, Hocking says demand for Leona has been high and nearly every bottle has been sold.
"You would probably say the taste profile of this is more suited to a fine scotch or cognac drinker," he notes.
Hocking used his background in wine to create this tequila. The Leona batch is created in DeLen's white-gloved, steel-only facility where Hocking personally blends and ages the agave-based drink. It is made without chemical additives and aged for 34 months in French wine Sauternes barrels.
The tequila is then packaged in a limited edition black box with flask wrapped in python skin.
According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, U.S. imports of tequila have jumped 61% since 2002, with the most growth in high-end offerings. In 2011, 12 million cases of tequila were sold in the U.S., bringing $1.8 billion in revenue to suppliers.
Is Hocking's small batch tequila worth nearly a grand (or about 42 bottles of Jose Cuervo)? That's up to you to decide, but as our host Aaron Task puts it, "that is the best tequila I've ever tasted."
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