Friday, 12 October 2018 00:00

People in Tequila/Mezcal | Lou Caruso of LongIslandLouTequila.com

Written by  Pedro Quiroba III
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Back as far as the late 70's Lou Caruso better known as Long Island Lou Tequila had enjoyed tequila drinks, but like many on the east coast he gyrated back to bourbon, scotch, vodka, beer or wine.

In the late 1980's when Patron started the mass marketing campaign, he tested the tequila waters again. This time Lou started drinking it neat, either patron or some of the other limited brands available in the area at that time. He quickly realized, as soon as he had something to compare it against, that it was overrated, over marketed, and simply average tequila.

Shortly after Lou started sipping 100% agave exclusively, and the best blanco's he could find. He was hooked and enjoyed the clear, fresh, crisp, blanco taste, and basically abandoned all other spirits.

Lou scoured the internet for anything and everything Tequila. He found some videos by Lippy, Grover and others that taught him a lot which in turn got Lou more involved and mesmerized with the spirit.

Long Island Lou Tequila was born.

Mr. Latino Magazine Interview with Lou Caruso of LongIslandLouTequila.com
We recently had the chance to sit down with Lou for a very informative and entertaining conversation.

ML:
Lou, being on the East coast, and I am not very familiar with the Tequila culture out there but it seems that it was really not too prevalent. What were your challenges with falling in love with Tequila?

Lou:
I was out here on Long Island and I didn't know one other person who enjoyed tequila or would spend any money buying it over vodka, bourbon, wine or beer. So I knew I was on my own and researched and learned all I could. I realized I was at a considerable disadvantage compared to the west coast guys. They could just walk into any store and buy world class tequilas, but not here. I drove liquor store owners crazy making them order special hard to find tequilas for me. Now many of those stores carry these brands. I bought on-line and started taking notes and building a sizeable collection. It was my passion.

ML:
Being pretty much on your own in this Tequila journey without anybody to bounce notes off of. How did you go about finding your style and the process of becoming a recognized Tequila reviewer?

Lou:
I spent countless hours researching, learning and trying different brands. My family thought I lost my mind. It was easy, as I have an overnight job in the news media, and sometimes the place runs itself and I'm able to sit in my office and do tequila research. One day I commented on a post, agreeing with some guy named Khrys Maxwell on a topic. Little did I know that I found the smartest man in tequila. He became my tequila online friend and mentor. Living on opposite coasts wasn't as hard as you'd think, even with my overnight hours and the time zone difference. I would text and ask him questions- LOTS of Questions. I'm amazed he still talks to me - (laughs). The unbelievable part is, he always answered me. I would text him on the railroad going to work at night or in a NYC taxi cab, quickly before he went to bed, and often he would answer me when he woke as I was leaving my job in New York city. He took me to a whole new level. My mind took off, he filled in so many blanks on production techniques and tequila history. Khrys would set up schedules for me to compare different blancos from different or the same terroirs, then told me to write notes and report to him. He always had the answers and I always had more questions. I always had the passion but he focused it and taught me things quickly, and between him, and others, I learned a lot real fast.

ML:
As we have talked over the years I know your a huge Blanco fan. Your also not a fan of the sweet smooth profile. What are your thoughts on the others and on some of the questionable juice that is hitting the markets today?

Lou:
In the beginning I liked my tequila smooth and sweet. Now a few years later my famous line to others is "Smooth and sweet gets boring real fast". I am glad to say now, that I quickly evolved and Fortaleza among other complicated and bold tequilas are my favorites. I learned to appreciate the boldness, complexity, heart and soul of a well made small batch tequila. I started to taste things in what I once thought were top brands, for what they were... mass produced, bland, average or over rated tequila, some with obvious additives. I realized that many brands do some fancy footwork to achieve a smooth, sweet, bland, Americanized taste profile. I believe many brands think it's what the new tequila drinkers want in America, after they had heard about or lived through that Cuervo mixto crap experience in college.

ML:
What is your goal with Tequila?

Lou:
My Goal is to find, report and review QUALITY brands that are made in the traditional way - being mostly horno cooked, tahona crushed (when you can find it) or simply just well made quality tequilas. I have found many creative distillers who do it right. I contact and communicate frequently with many of them. I learn so much from them all. I also love to find inexpensive quality made brands worthy of sipping neat or mixing, that won't break the bank. I have my lists of my favorites on LongIslandLouTequila.com and along with being known as Lou Agave on Facebook, I keep my Long Island Lou Tequila Facebook page active as well. I am mostly a blanco man, but do enjoy aged tequilas, mostly Anejo and Extra Anejo. I have compared hundreds of blancos and many aged expressions. I have a spreadsheet that I try to constantly update, that lists each ones production method with details, like how they were all made - the differences, the terroirs, the NOMS, and the production methods used. I have found that after tasting so many different tequilas, you learn the ones that are made well and have the proper complicated and balanced tastes, over the ones trying to fake it or aren't even in the same league. It sort of gets easier.

ML:
Give some of your thoughts on glassware, sipping it neat as opposed to shooting it, the rumors that are associated with Tequila and as you say the geeky parts of Tequila?

Lou:
Glassware is important, as well as sipping tequila properly, and that means ONLY 100% agave, NEVER lime, salt or ice and NEVER shooting it. Swirl, Smell, Sip and Savor. I LOVE tequila and everything about it. I love the geeky parts, taking detailed notes and having lists of each brands production methods along with my opinions. That is a job in itself, as these brands are often secretive about procedures. I pride myself on contacting them, researching, and asking experts, to compile my information. I don't stop until I know I have all the information that is available. The differences in Los Altos (highland) and El Valle (lowland) tequilas are interesting and although I have struggled to decide which I like best, I am partial to both. I love to compare, take notes and do blind taste tests. I love writing what I feel are honest reviews, that I think people will understand and enjoy. I try to always put technical information along with interesting story lines as well as my opinions in my reviews. I think of the connoisseur as well as the beginner in all my reviews.

I like to dispel rumors about tequila, get new people interested and report the positive effects of the greatest spirit in the world. I have seen the amazement in the eyes of friends lately as they are surprised how good quality tequila is. I have converted some bourbon and whiskey drinkers to the aged expressions, and love it when people get turned on to an amazing blanco that's not harsh and disgusting as they assumed it would be, or tried an unbelievable anejo or extra anejo that they cant believe is tequila. I want everyone to Love tequila. I have been getting asked a lot to speak at Mexican restaurants, bars and seminars, and although I would like to, my full time job and crazy hours prohibits most of that, at this time. That will change in the very near future though.

ML:
As you continue in Tequila where do you see yourself now as opposed to 5 years ago and what do you anticipate in the future?

Lou:
I am the new generation of tequila connoisseur, but with great respect and knowledge of some of the pioneers. Thanks to Bob Denton who brought quality tequila to the US and to the west coast guys who kept demanding better tequila. To the agave forums and clubs that came before Facebook. We are where we are now because of people like them, and I have found these real experts, to be very helpful and forthcoming with their knowledge to others, like myself. Its like a fraternity of the coolest people ever. The agave connoisseurs stick together but when asked by a new person, they are willing to educate. I have many friends on Facebook that are a wealth of agave knowledge, and I have the utmost respect for them all. I now try to give my knowledge to newcomers, and I really enjoy it. There are so many people who are instrumental to me, that I have met or talked with, since jumping in with both feet a few years ago. Some of the greatest names in Tequila making, like Carlos and Felipe Camarena, German Gonzales, Adolfo Murillo, David Suro as well Industry Professionals like Mike Morales, club owners, distributors, bartenders and all my wonderful agave friends. Everyone has been accessible and friendly to me. Becoming friends with Pedro Quiroba III (Mr. Latino Magazine) has been a highlight for me. I have truly met the most amazing people in this wonderful, tasty agave world.

Lou his wife Angela his daughter Amanda and his son Daniel Caruso who built and designed LongIslandLouTequila.com

 

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Read 1322 times Last modified on Friday, 19 October 2018 18:34