I attend a lot of events, and few stand out for being interesting and different. The launch of Olmeca Altos tequila was one of those events. These days I need something more interesting to make an event stand out. The old formula of music + food + booze + people = event just doesn’t cut it anymore. Olmeca held the event at the Woodstock Exchange, and they didn’t just use it as a venue, they integrated several of the tenants into the event. That’s what made the difference.
When we arrived we were given a ‘passport’ which included a map of the event and a list of places we had to get a stamp. Only if one had all 4 stamps would one quality for the goodie bag on exit, which included a bottle of Olmeca Altos tequila. We started with a blind tequila tasting which included a presentation on how tequila is made and what makes Altos different. The secret to the quality of Altos is that at each stage of the production, industrial methods have been eschewed in favour of more traditional (and manual) methods. The agave is harvested at a maturity of 7 to 8 years instead of 5 to 6 years as is often the case. The agave pinas are roasted in a traditional brick oven, then crushed with a tahona stone, a method with a history of 500 years. Distillation is done in small copper pot stills, and the reposado is aged in old bourbon barrels for 8 to 10 months.
The result of this more artisanal production method is evident in the taste. We tasted about 10 tequilas in the blind tasting and despite some of my favourites being included in the lineup, I consistently selected the Olmeca Altos as my preferred option.
After the tasting we headed over to the bar and got ourselves one of the interesting cocktails they were serving, we also sampled some of the food on offer. The food is the only part of the event which I though could be improved. We had a little bowl of chilli con carne & rice, and nothing else. I know there were one or two other options going around but we never saw them. I think there could have been more food, more variety and more co-ordination.
We were then instructed to go to the shop which matched our entrance stamp. Each of the 4 partners had been selected for their ethos around quality and craftsmanship, and had been instructed to create something with or connected to Altos Tequila. At each stop we were given an introduction to what they do and shown what they had created for the Altos launch. Then we had some time to wander around the shop/gallery and even purchase items. I think this whole idea was genius, for two reasons. One, it tied into the artisanal/craftsmanship of Altos tequila and two, it gave exposure to the shops/galleries in the Woodstock Exchange. I had not been into 3 of the 4 previously and I had been missing out! The 4 places we visited were:
Dark Horse (dark-horse.co.za)
These guys specialise in tailored accessories (mainly travel related) as well as furniture and homeware. I loved some of the travel bags I saw like the hemp duffel bag (see pic). Hipsters and wanna be hipsters will love the satchels and messenger bags.
The item they created for the Altos launch was a leather carry handle for the Altos bottle. Slip the bottle into the leather carrier and you have a handle for easy transport. Clever!
A WORD OF ART (www.a-word-of-art.co.za)
This little gallery has been in this space from long before the Woodstock Exchange was revamped. They have created a fabulous book which documents all the tenants over the years with beautiful photographs. Definitely check that out when you visit. The exhibition that is currently showing in the gallery is well worth a visit. Commentary on the juxtaposition of social media and real life. As well as a very interesting social experiment where the artist left signs around Cape Town advertising random services such as used coffins and pubic braiding. He then recorded and transcribed the messages people left.
The gallery used the Altos bottle to create a piece of art by filling it with different coloured paints. It looked quite beautiful and I’m sorry to say that I did not take a picture of it!
Rosetta Roastery (www.rosettaroastery.com)
These guys have been sourcing and roasting coffee beans for a few years now and their passion for their product is evident in the quality of the final product. If you want to learn the difference between coffees from different countries, go along and let them educate you. It’s very interesting, not to mention delicious!
Their creation involved a shot of tequila infused with crema of espresso and chased with iced coffee (that’s the American iced coffee, with actual ice blocks in coffee). An interesting taste experience, and quite appealing. I’ve had something a little similar before which was a shot of tequila chased with an espresso, I like this variation.
Thing King (www.thingking.co.za)
These guys had an amazing contribution. They specialise in creating mechanised processes to solve everyday problems (like making pancakes!). You need to visit to understand fully what they do, but they basically play with toys all the time.
Their creation for the Altos launch was ingenious. You had to perform a sequence of moves, once the computer identified that you had performed the correct sequence, which spelled out ‘I respect Mexico’, it would automatically dispense a shot of tequila for you.
It was great fun and so original. Do yourself a favour and go visit this playpen of ingenuity.
Once we had collected our stamps we had some photos taken and collected our goodie bags before heading home. We left quite early, probably around 10:30pm. A good event doesn’t have to involve excess and revelry until 3am. We were really impressed and glad to have been there.
As for Olmeca Altos tequila, I can safely say that after that blind tasting, the Olmeca Altos Blanco is now my tequila of choice.
More pics from the Olmeca Altos Launch here.
Follow Olmeca SA on Facebook here.