A tequila now on Spec's shelves in Austin and other major Texas cities is one of only a few tequilas to be certified organic by the USDA — and the only tequila brand also certified organic by Mexico.
Plus, the family-crafted Real Gusto, in blanco, reposado and añejo varieties, is 100 percent agave and full of complex flavors so easy to drink, no lime is necessary if it's downed as a shot or sipped neat.
That level of care is a signature of Real Gusto's creators, including Jaime Gonzalez, owner and CEO of the Real Gusto brand. He was only a child when he became fascinated by the process of making the agave-based spirit. He'd spent hours watching his father and grandfather, who started producing tequila in 1966, tend to the agave fields on the family's 600-acre Rancho Los Sandovales. His grandfather had dreams of crafting a "world-class tequila"; his father slowly, carefully made that happen with a couple of big changes to the tequila, including the agave plants' move to another ranch, Las Lomitas, in the small town of Amacueca in Jalisco.
"He wanted the tequila to be an organic product; he wanted to go back to the basics and make it the best way anyone could," Gonzalez said, explaining that his father started making Real Gusto using an old process from 100 years ago.
To be organic, which means no fertilizers, pesticides or antibiotics were involved during tequila production, Real Gusto is made a bit differently than other tequilas. For one, the yeast that's added during fermentation (the sort you'll find in bread) isn't genetically modified, so it takes up to eight days to ferment, versus only six to eight hours for yeasts non-organic tequila brands are likely to use, Gonzalez said.
Also because it's organic, "we can't add flavor or color for the reposado or añejo," he said.
All the Real Gusto tequilas spend some time in brand new white oak barrels from Kentucky (the same ones that Jack Daniels uses) — the reposado for four to six months, the añejo for about a year and two months. This bare-bones process, from agave harvesting to barrel-aging, has yielded a top-notch spirit.
In fact, it's already won honors at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Real Gusto's first U.S. competition, taking home a double gold medal for the blanco and gold medals for both the reposado and the añejo.
I tried all three varieties at a recent tasting and found that my favorite is the dark añejo. Having aged so long in the barrels, the Real Gusto Añejo is a smooth mixture of vanilla, caramel and honey, while still maintaining its herbal agave soul. But for a margarita, the blanco is an easy choice — crisp and sweet with slight citrus notes.
Real Gusto is available for $40 to $50 at Spec's in Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and, of course, throughout Mexico.
2 oz. Tequila Real Gusto Blanco
1 oz. Cointreau
Two limes, juiced
Moisten the rim of a cocktail glass with lime juice and dip in salt to coat. Pour tequila, Cointreau and lime juice into a cocktail shaker with crushed ice and shake. Serve in prepared glass.