From Agave Plant to Your Palate

Award-winning Tequila Semental will be joining El Portal's Annual Tequila Tasting event on September 12 as one of its vendors

Monday, August 26, 2013 | 4:02 pm

El Portal's Annual Tequila Tasting 2013

One of the best things to look forward to in El Portal’s Annual Tequila Tasting 2013 is the chance to try out premium tequilas. One of these is Tequila Semental.

Founded in 2006, Tequila Semental is privately owned by Efrain Lopez Gurza, according to Rwandy Valdovinos of Tequila Semental, and “we have approximately 4,000 acres of prime agave fields in the low lands of Jalisco, in the town of Amatitan. The distillery is Hacienda De Oro, NOM 1522.

Just recently, the company created its own importing company called Agavemex Importers, LLC. From the agave fields to your palate, Valdovinos says, “we’re a one-stop shop. We own our own agave, produce from our own distillery, and we now own our very own importing company. That all just translates to top quality. No intermediaries.”

All the agave used is selected by age, color, and weight by Semental’s master distiller. Valdovinos says, “His name is Valente Ariano and he has been in the business for over 40 years. He’s the master distiller and has created a handful of brands that you’ve probably heard of or you probably drank at one point. He’s the Mick Jagger of the distilling world, he’s a rock star.”

About 40 to 60% of the agave that is annually produced is used, and Valdovinos says that the company is “very exclusive about the agave that we process for our own tequila. Everything else gets sold to other distilleries or other producers in the region, but we hand-pick, we cherry-pick, the best agave for ourselves based on weight, color and age. All of our agave is aged seven years. It’s all matured blue agave.”

Improving the quality even further, Valdovinos tells us, “We do triple distilling via state of the art autoclave process, thus better controlling temperature. You have to have prime agave, a prime product to be at prime production, to be able to realistically and successfully create premium tequila that is triple distilled. There’s a select few that triple distill and can actually maintain that supreme level of quality. It’s a true hold of premium tequila.”

Even the barrels used to age the tequilas are taken into serious consideration to maintain Semental’s mark of quality.

“We process using new barrels. We don’t use old whiskey or old brandy barrels, which is pretty much the norm in Tequila industry. We actually use new barrels. We [use] American Oak Barrels, brand new barrels, for our Reposado which we age for five months,” says Valdovinos.

“For our Anejo, we utilize a hybrid barrel which uses American oak staves and French Limousin caps. Brand new barrels, we’re talking about $800 barrels that are only used once. We age our Anejos for 13 months. After that’s done, that barrel is sold to other tequila producers ” adds Valdovinos.

According to Valdovinos, Reposado barrels are used three times where “after the first barreling, we actually disassemble each barrel, we shave them on the inside, we reassemble, we re-toast, and then we fill it with product. After three uses, our Reposado barrels [are] sold.”

“We don’t cut corners. We produce top-notch tequila,” he says.

After hearing the process each Tequila Semental goes through, it’s no wonder why the company has been recipients of multiple awards. Valdovinos tells us, “for the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, our Reposado took a double gold. Our Anejo took a gold and our Silver took silver [at the] San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2007.”

Valdovinos continues, “as it relates to the BTI, Beverage Tasting Institute, we already have 94 points on our Semental Anejo, which is great. It’s awesome. Our Reposado took 93 points as well with the BTI. Our Semental Silver took 91 points, all exceptional points and quality.”

Tequila Semental and El Portal has been in a working relationship now for the past year and a half, with El Portal supporting Tequila Semental brands while “we participate in the free tasting events there. We’ve done showcases there. We’ve done drink promos there and we very much enjoy their tequila tasting,” says Valdovinos.

Come to the El Portal Tequila Tasting event on Thursday, September 12 at El Portal to taste the Semental difference.

The event will start from 5:30 pm onwards and will also feature mariachis, hors d’oeuvre, and raffles. Entrance at the door will be $35, while advanced buyers up to September 11 can purchase tickets for $30.

For reservations, call (626) 795-8553. El Portal is located at 695 E. Green St., Pasadena.

To learn more about Semental Tequila, visit for more information.

For more details on El Portal Yucatan/Mexican Cuisine, visit


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