Tequila Calle 23
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Country of Origin: Mexico
Location: Zapotlanejo, Jalisco
People: Sophie Decobecq, Owner & Master Distiller
Viticulture: Practicing Organic
Tequila Aficionado: Women in the Tequila Industry: Sophie Decobecq
Forbes: 18 Of The Best Tequilas To Try Right Now
"Sophie Decobecq is something of an anomaly in the world of tequila, not just for being a beautiful woman in a male dominated industry but for her application of science to tequila production." - Class Magazine 8/2010
"No list of Tequila Boss Ladies would be complete without mentioning the likeable and charismatic Sophie Decobecq, creator of the award winning Calle 23 Tequila." - Tequila Aficionado 11/2013
Sophie Decobecq, the creator of Calle 23, is something of an anomaly in the Tequila industry. Nothing could predict that a French woman would find her place in this male-dominated world, with its traditions passed down from generation to generation.
Her journey to tequila production began with her training as a biological chemist, which in 1999 led to a work placement in a Mexican research center, working with yeasts and lactic bacteria. While visiting tequila distilleries as part of her research, Sophie fell in love with the culture, the people, the scenery and the tequila spirit. She permanently moved to Mexico in 2003 and started Calle 23 shortly after.
Sophie cooks her tequila piñas in three stainless steel autoclaves. While many frown upon the use of autoclaves, she sees the ovens as providing great control over the cooking process. Also, they are only detrimental when used at high pressures, and Sophie runs her ovens at below 1kg/cm2. The piñas are steam roasted in a cooking process that takes around 16 hours.
Fermentation is where Sophie utilizes her biochemistry background. In the laboratory, Sophie collected wild yeast strains native to the agave fields to isolate and culture the ones that produced her desired tequila. After intensive research, she has chosen 2 yeast strains. Calle 23 effectively makes two blanco tequilas, differentiated by the 2 yeast strains. One of these is released as the blanco, and also put into cask to become the añejo; the other is put directly into cask and becomes the reposado. The choice of yeast greatly affects the flavor, as the different combinations produce tequilas with different characteristics. This is a unique approach in the whole of tequila.
She has fourteen 30,000-liter stainless steel tanks for fermentation. Then double distillation occurs in stainless steel pot stills with copper serpentine steam elements. The reposado and añejo are aged in seasoned American whiskey barrels (minimum 8 months and minimum 16 months, respectively). The small bottling line has automated filling but labels and seals are applied by hand.