Tequila marketers have definitely zeroed in on their newest target audience: trendy millennials attracted by chic minimalist designs and purpose-driven brands. There’s a new brand variation on this theme every time I head to the local liquor store… but the quality has been a bit hit and miss. Some are well executed and delicious, and others feel soulless and corporate. So which side of that spectrum does this minimalist-chic, charitable-giving bottle of Socorro blanco fall on? Let’s drink on to find out.
Launched in April of 2020, Socorro Tequila is a brand of spirits produced by I&A Agave Spirits. The I and A in that company name represent founders Josh Irving and Pablo Antinori, two Texans who got their start distributing spirits and decided to take a chance launching their own brands.
Irving graduated from Stephen F. Austin University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing, and after college he started working as a caddy at local golf clubs. While there, he met some well-connected individuals who helped him obtain a position working for an alcohol distributor where he began to learn more about the liquor business. He fell in love with tequila, and during the course of his business he met Antinori, who was a distributor for Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits. Together, the pair decided to go into business for themselves, designing their own spirits and selling them in the United States.
They raised a combined $1.265 million from their friends and family in December of 2019 and started their first brand, Socorro Tequila, in April of 2020. The goal was to make a tequila that was affordable for everyone while still being a quality product, and one that also gave back to others. The name “Socorro” translates to “help, aid, and assist” which is what the company does — for every case of tequila they sell, they donate a case of water to an orphanage or nursing home in Mexico that needs it.
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There’s a lot of information on the website about the concept and the brand of this tequila, but there’s remarkably little information about what’s actually in the bottle.
As you might expect from a pair of distributors that went into the production business, this tequila isn’t actually made by them — this spirit is made under contract by Casa Tequilera Dinastía Arandina S.A. de C.V. (NOM 1610), a manufacturer in Mexico who caters specifically to companies like I&A by doing everything from production to bottling — and even branding and marketing as a service. There don’t seem to be any other major brands associated with this distillery.
What little information we can get about how this tequila is made comes from the label itself — based on some of the words they use (and their legal definitions), we can make some guesses about what’s inside.
According to the label, this is a tequila made from 100% agave which means that the sole source of sugar for their fermentation process is blue weber agave. These agave plants are grown for about seven years before they are harvested and brought to the distillery for processing.
At this point, the agave cores need to be cooked to convert their starchy fibers into sugar. The modern way of doing that is by putting them in an industrial autoclave with some acid, but the label here says that these plants were instead cooked in traditional ovens (which is a slower and less efficient process, but one that imparts more flavor and character into the finished product).
The cores are then shredded to extract the sugary liquid inside, and fermented to turn that sugary liquid into alcohol. After fermentation the liquid is distilled to concentrate the alcohol and select just the right components that they want to put into the bottle.
For this blanco version of Socorro, the resulting spirit is proofed down to the right level of alcohol content, bottled, and shipped for sale.
This bottle is a design we’ve seen time and again, probably done best in the tequila space by Tequila 512.
The bottle it a tall and slender shape, with a cylindrical skinny body, gently rounded shoulder, and a long neck. That package is capped off with a wood and synthetic stopper.
Credit where credit is due: they did a good job with the labeling. The label takes up a large portion of the space on the bottle — which is normally a pet peeve of mine, but less of a concern for a clear spirit like this blanco. The font, illustration, and other embellishments on the label are done in this fine, minimalist style that makes it feel light and airy. It’s is a very chic and modern approach to a tequila label — one that I’d bet will probably do well with millennial and female buyers.
At first whiff, this seems to be going down the Casamigos route. The most prominent aromas coming off the glass are caramel and vanilla, which aren’t usually the thing you think about when you picture a blanco tequila. I’m expecting herbal agave and citrus — but while there might be a touch of lemon in there somewhere, it’s almost completely blocked out by those barrel aging aromas.
The flavors follow that same pattern with brown sugar, caramel, and vanilla buttercream frosting being the most prominent tasting notes. It tastes great, but it’s not the traditional blanco tequila flavor profile I was expecting. There’s a hint of herbal agave on the front, and a faint ghost of black pepper spice on the end, but those are the extent of the traditional flavors here.
With added ice, the weaker components of the flavor usually drop out and the more robust and richer components are left behind. That’s exactly what we see here, and the news isn’t great.
On the aroma, I’m getting more brown sugar and milk chocolate vibes, which is a departure from what we saw when taken neat. That same kind of shift is also present in the flavor when you take a sip, with more emphasis on the brown sugar and vanilla but a hint of dark chocolate has now appeared at the finish to add a bit more depth and some slight bitterness.
It’s really not my favorite sipping tequila on the rocks at this point. The flavors are patently unbalanced and not really pleasant.
Normally, a margarita is a delicate dance where the powerful citrus flavors from the lime juice and the Cointreau are mixing and playing with the herbaceousness and the black pepper from the tequila. It’s supposed to be something where the tequila adds more delicate and herbal notes and makes the drink more interesting.
In this case, this isn’t a dance — this is a battle. The strong brown sugar, caramel, and vanilla flavors from the tequila are fighting for supremacy with the mixers, and the result is a bitter and confusing cocktail that just doesn’t work for me. There’s too much going on and it misses out on all the subtlety that I like in a good margarita.
On paper, the flavors in this blanco tequila sound great. Brown sugar, vanilla, dark chocolate — that’s my jam! But those are flavors more in line with an anejo or a cristalino tequila… not a blanco. When I reach for a blanco tequila, I’m reaching for something herbaceous and clean, not something that tastes like it has been in a barrel for a few years.
I feel like this is an attempt to copy the flavor profile of Casamigos, which goes for some of the same notes but executes it well. A bottle of Casamigos’ blanco won’t have the same confusion and issues when taken on ice or in a margarita, and Socorro’s blanco just doesn’t work the same. There’s just confusion, chaos, and a mild identity crisis.
|Socorro Blanco Tequila
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $30.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 1/5
Suspiciously well-saturated brown sugar, vanilla, and caramel flavors turn this blanco into an poorly balanced anejo for no apparent reason.