Since discovering r/tequila and Tequila Matchmaker it has been my mission to find some of the best juices recommended here (and there). This has been great for my tequila palette, not great for my wallet, but fun all the time. Always trying to balance score of 90s from the community and experts, no additives, available near me or online in some way (and not part of some kind of price war). No doubt I have put a lot of miles on the car and spent hours on wine-searcher trying to find some of these elusive expressions, but it is has been so satisfying.
This past week, I traveled South to the NYC area and I was determined to find a few bottles that New England simply didn’t offer— or offer at a reasonable price. These included El Tequileno Reposado Rare, Tequila Ocho Puntas and the Cascahuin Cerro Del Luz Blanco. Bonus if I found a reasonably priced bottle of Winter Blend or either of the overproof Terralta Expressions (Blanco & XA).
Like most folks here, I researched and prepared. In fact, my trip’s trajectory owed much to the map of fine stores in the region as much as people I was going to visit. (Thanks to wine-searcher).
In the end I got two out three and no Terralta (overproof; did score both regular expressions of blanco and XA), but I wanted to share some of the frustrations about Tequila Hunting, and see if other folks here also have had these experiences, or am I doing something wrong? I will not bad mouth any liquor stores —because we all have to make a living— but I will share where I had great experiences. These are some of the frustrations I had.
“WE DON’T SHIP” I realize that liquor stores sell most of their wares to the local population, and that shipping to other states (and sometimes, even neighboring states) can pose challenges involving licensing, permitting, tax and mail protocols that are beyond even the most patient liquor owner’s interest, ability and budget for time in figuring it out.
450 miles worth but oh so worth it. Not pictured: Terralta Blanco, Cascahuin Plata 48 (again) and El Mayor Extra Anejo (don’t ask).
But recently I had an a company called Viscount Liquors in Wappingers Falls who told me “We don’t ship but I can have FedEx pick it up.” Whatever the difference was, that made my life much easier. I don’t see why places that don’t ship can’t do the same— charge me for the service! Of course there a limits: a shop here in Concord, MA wanted to charge me $250 for local delivery of Siembra Valles High Proof Blanco ($50). They didn’t seem to understand the conflict or irony in charging 5x the cost of the bottle; let alone the fact that for money I could have hired a limo to pick me up for the day while I consumed it. I got it elsewhere.
“THAT’S NOT WHAT I ORDERED. Wine-searcher (a great site and app that is getting better all the time) led me to a store in NJ that claimed to have the Cascahuin, so I ordered two bottles, one for a close friend who I was going to visit and had agreed to pick it up. She was nice enough to carefully package it for me and because I didn’t want to traverse several states with open bottles of liquor I left it packaged until I got home—only to discover they had sold me the Cascahuin 48 Plata. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a great juice, but I already had it, and I didn’t need to travel 50 extra miles to get it. The galling thing is that when I called the store to tell them what had happened, they defended the sale, and said the reason that happened was that the Plata 48 says “Cerra De Luz” on the label. I suppose it’s OK since they actually have changed the listing so other folks will not make the same mistake I did. Grrr!
Not the actual “Cerro de Luz” Blanco I was looking for, but I did get two extra bottles of the Plata 48, a great juice.
“WE DON’T HAVE THAT” Wine-searcher reported that a shop not too far out of my way had De-Nada in both reposado and blanco expressions. When I visited their site online, I was able to find the bottles, and put them in my cart. I didn’t buy them, because I wasn’t sure if I wanted one or both. I figured I’d make a game-time decision based on what might also be in the store that was interesting. When I got there I couldn’t find it and so I asked the folks. They just looked at me blankly and said “We don’t have that,” as if that was a conversation finisher. I told them that Wine-searcher SAID they had it, but more importantly, their own website said they had it. I showed them the bottle in the cart, with the SKU#. This changed their expression and they immediately got to investigating where this tequila might be. Now this just a local shop, no Total Wine. I don’t think everyone has to know everything but you would think if a customer comes in looking to buy something the least you could do it is look it up? After about 10 minutes they offered to order it, which I agreed to. (They also offered me a discount on Adictivo if I wanted; I didn’t). However, they didn’t get it in before I had to leave and I found it somewhere else. (They called me after I got home).
In conclusion, tequila hunting is a labor of love, and I try hard not to bring attitude to the hard working men and women of our nation’s liquor stores. It’s all worth it because The Tequila Ochos Puntas, the Tequileño Rare and the Terralta Blanco are mind-blowingly good, simple strong agave flavors that are great sippers and I’m sad I only have one bottle of each.
If you got through this, please let me know if you have any good tequila hunting tips!