“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women,” said Madeline Albright once. Well, we take it even farther and say there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t champion other women’s success too. In honor of National Tequila Day, we’d like to celebrate a very special woman, a pioneer, in fact, of the tequila world. Meet the world’s first Maestra Tequilera (akin to Master Sommelier), Bertha González Nieves, of Casa Dragones tequila.
“I remember my first visit to a distillery in Mexico and then on to visit the rolling hills of agave and I knew this is what I wanted to do,” Nieves explains.
The title “Maestra Tequilera” is a distinction awarded by the Mexican Academy of Tequila Tasters, which is recognized by the Tequila Regulatory Council. It is the highest distinction you can get in the industry.
Take that tequila-making glass ceiling!
In addition to having a female tequila maker, Casa Dragones is distinct in many ways. Most tequila brands have a Silver, a Reposado and an Anejo variety, not Casa Dragones. They’re out to do one thing and do it well: Joven. Joven (young in Spanish) is one of the five classifications of tequila which means it has been allowed to age for a few weeks before bottling.
“We focus on flavor not efficiency,” says Nieves.
It’s also different from other tequilas as it’s designed to savor, as you would a fine wine or cognac. Made with 100 percent blue agave and a touch of extra añejo tequila that has rested in American oak barrels for five years, Casa Dragones Joven tequila proudly wears the “sipping tequila” moniker. It was designed to be enjoyed not in cocktail and not as a shot, but beautifully naked and served neat to begin a meal or as a digestif. New York City chef Eric Ripert, owner of Le Bernardin, likes to pair it with chocolate at the end of the night.
The Casa Dragones bottle is special as well as it champions a nearly extinct Mexican craft – glass etching or pepita. The bottle looks like glassware from the 1920s with etched agave-esque designs emblazoned on the top and bottom. Glass etching was a dying craft until Casa Dragones came along. Another artisan aspect is numbered, signed and personalized by local calligraphers. If you’ve always dreamed of having your very own personalized tequila, thanks to Casa Dragones, now you can.
Launched in 2009, Casa Dragones is a co-founded by both MTV founder Bob Pittman and tequila master Bertha González Nieves and Oprah’s favorite tequila.
Happy National Tequila Day!
Photo of Nieves courtesy of Casa Dragones.