Each year, at the beginning of November, Día de Muertos sees Mexicans in towns and cities across the country gather for three days of paying homage to lost family and friends. But “Day of the Dead” is no solemn occasion; it is a joyous celebration, full of color, pageantry, food and drink.
A centerpiece of the multi-day festivities is the mounting of ofrendas, altars erected to honor those that have passed. These are adorned with photographs, possessions and favorite foodstuffs of the departed. Such offerings are intended to welcome back our loved ones with the things they enjoyed most in life. Ofrendas overspill with pan de muerto; tamales; atoles; and, of course, plenty of tequila.
Inspired by the culinary and cultural traditions of Día de Muertos, Clase Azul Spirits, Mexico’s first producers of luxury tequila, has announced a new multi-year series of limited editions, Nuestros Recuerdos, “Our Memories”, with each annual release celebrating a different core aspect of Día de Muertos.
Highly collectible tequila
Clase Azul’s first launched its Día de Muertos Limited Edition series five years ago and the annual release has become one of the most eagerly awaited events for tequila aficionados around the world. As with any new Clase Azul output, Nuestros Recuerdos promises to become a must-have for tequila collectors, as well as for those with a deep appreciation for Mexico’s rich history and culture. But enthusiasts will face stiff competition sourcing a bottle. The first installment in the series, Sabores – “flavors” – has only 5,000 decanters available for purchase worldwide.
Demand will be high. The Sabores Limited Edition is Clase Azul’s first Single Estate Agave Tequila — an incredibly rare practice where the agave used is exclusively harvested from a single field. All the Blue Weber Agave used for this tequila was sourced from a specific mountaintop in Los Altos de Jalisco: Cerro de Viboreo.
Located among the remnants of an ancient civilization – particularly fitting, given Día de Muertos traces its roots back thousands of years to the Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua people – the area boasts unique soil and weather conditions that result in agave with a distinctive flavor profile.
A unique drinking experience
Sabores was created by blending an añejo tequila aged for more than 14 months in previously-used American whiskey casks with tequilas aged in first-use American oak casks. With its fragrant aromas, complex flavors and amber color, this rich and full-bodied añejo is a truly unique experience. On the nose are candied orange peel, ripe pear, toasted oak, vanilla and crème caramel. When tasted, flavors of sweet coconut, cloves, coffee, roasted almonds and hints of chocolate come through.
The aroma and flavor profiles were inspired by typical recipes prepared for this celebration like hot chocolate and Arroz con Leche, a rice pudding seasoned with cinnamon – and often vanilla and coconut.
“Through flavor you can evoke memories,” explains Clase Azul master distiller, Viridiana Tinoco. “The goal was to recreate the essence of this holiday’s gastronomy in an añejo tequila so that anyone, anywhere could experience it.”
Celebration through design
But, as with any Clase Azul release, the drink itself is only part of the story. The brand has become as famous for its hand-sculpted and individually painted bottles paying homage to Mexican artisanship, history and culture. Sabores’s matte black decanter is a gorgeous physical manifestation of this rich and mystical celebration, incorporating central elements of the holiday’s culinary traditions.
The front of the decanter features a handmade, gold-plated metal ornament depicting three Calaveras, decorative skulls which adorn any ofreda, and a Pan de Muerto, the hugely popular sweet seasonal bun. The decanter’s artwork depicts a feast being enjoyed by Catrinas, the elegantly dressed skeletons popularly associated with Día de Muertos. The design is topped off by Clase Azul’s iconic agave symbol, plated in gold.
Each edition of Nuestros Recuerdos will celebrate a different aspect of Día de Muertos. Having marked the flavors of the festival this year, what will follow between now and 2025 are Aromas (“scents”); Colores (“colors”); Música (“music”); and Recuerdos (“memories”).
It amounts to both a heartfelt homage to one of the world’s most iconic festivals and a celebration worthy of loved ones past and present.