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Just don't call it tequila

Seems like there’s a new high-end Tequila introduced every month, but here’s one that’s sure to stand out on the back bar. JB Wagoner’s Temequila is fermented and distilled not in Jalisco, Mexico, but in Temecula, California. The bottle proudly sports a red, white and blue label with a star and large type heralding that it’s made in the USA.

The name Temequila isn’t just a marketing ploy. “I can’t call it Tequila because of international trade laws,” explains JB Wagoner, head of Skyrocket Distillers LLC, which makes Temequila. Much like Cognac and Scotch, authentic Tequila can only come from certain growing areas in Mexico where its contents are strictly regulated. However, like fine Tequilas, Wagoner’s Temequila is 100 percent Blue Agave.

“My parents have owned land outside Temecula for 20 years,” says Wagoner, recalling the spirit’s genesis, “and I bought some land, and was considering what to grow on it. At the time there was an agave shortage, and skyrocketing prices for Tequila. There was some wild agave growing in the hills here. One thing led to another, and it sort of evolved.”

Temequila is craft distilled in a pot still of Wagoner’s design, with all gravity transfers and no pumping—which is gentler on the liquor. The agave spirit is 100 proof, versus 80 proof for most Tequilas. Temequila retails for just under $50, which makes it competitive with superpremium 100 percent agave Tequilas. About 5,000 cases are produced. Distribution is now in California, New Mexico and Illinois, with Texas coming online soon.

Initially, Wagoner just produced an unaged silver. Now he’s about to release Private Stash, which is aged in oak barrels—American oak.

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