Carlos Camarena’s family has been farming agave for five generations — that’s longer than tequila has been sold in bottles. His great-great-grandfather is said to have brought blue agave, from which tequila is made, to the highlands of Jalisco. Camarena has made his own mark as one of the most revered and respected tequileros in the spirit’s long history. But he made what may be his most lasting contribution to the category in 2008 with Tequila Ocho, the brand that smashed the preconceptions of what tequila should be.
Tequila Ocho is the brainchild of Camarena and the late Tomas Estes, a California native who moved to Europe in 1976 and brought tequila, Mexican cuisine, and culture along with him. His Café Pacifico, the first restaurant he opened while living as an expatriate in Amsterdam, sported one of the most extensive tequila collections in the world, decades before most connoisseurs outside Mexico took the category seriously. In 2003 the Mexican government named him the official tequila ambassador to the European Union.
Camarena and Estes had an idea that went against the grain of how tequila was made at the time, and it’s still uncommon today. As Tequila Ocho global brand ambassador Jesse Estes explains: “Soil composition — just one of the elements comprising the terroir of each field — does indeed have an influence on the final tequila produced. This is not surprising given that our agaves take six to nine years before they are ready to harvest, and that the plant’s roots are absorbing minerals and nutrients from the soil during these long years.”
Rather than blend away the subtle differences that exist in agaves grown in various soils and elevations, Camarena and Estes decided to emphasize them — and in the process introduce the concept of terroir to tequila. Tequila Ocho’s “single-field” vintages, with all the agave harvested from a single place in a single season and labeled as such, were revolutionary then and now. “Having harvested more than 30 different single fields to date, each production of Ocho tastes slightly different due to the unique terroir of each field,” Estes notes.
Tequila Ocho is both groundbreaking and delicious, thanks in large part to Camarena’s vision, his decades of knowledge accumulated both firsthand and from his family’s history, and his family-owned agave fields in the highlands of Jalisco. No shortcuts are taken, no additives are used, and technology is kept to a minimum. Every step, from harvesting the agave to aging the distilled tequila, is carefully thought out, resulting in the highest-quality spirit possible, one that epitomizes the distinctive terroir of Jalisco.
To learn more, check out the infographic below.
This infographic is sponsored by Tequila Ocho.