The Agave Sessions at The Distillery.
It is an absolute delight to finally write a review for the kind geniuses that run The Distillery on Portobello Road. This thriving business venture took over its premises from one of my and my partner’s favourite local bars, and with great joy, we can assuredly say, that far from proving to be a subsequent disappointment, it has swiftly become a shining star in the heart of Portobello and Notting Hill.
Learn from experience
Having previously attended The Ginstitute (three hours of gin-tasting), we knew to expect nothing less than a professionally-wrapped, interesting, boozy and thoroughly enjoyable experience (even if post-factum, we don’t recall our short walk/roll home after it with much accuracy)! So, it is with glee in our hearts, and a hearty breakfast lining our stomachs, that we dive head first into ‘The Agave Sessions’.
Upon arrival at The Distillery, we are politely asked to take a seat in the warm, vibey and spacious wood panelled ground floor bar, whilst the last of our intrepid fellow mezcal missionaries are herded up, and we are ready to ascend to the top floor to begin our intoxicating adventure.
We are happily ushered into the venue’s luxurious ‘boardroom’ with its midnight blue walls adorned with interesting artwork, wherein around 16 of us are seated at their impressive banquet table. Said table has already been laid with no less than nine sipping ‘shots’ of tequila/mezcal in front of each seat. So, with smiles on our respective faces, we already know that our palates are in for an informative and extensive treat.
Informative is indeed the key word here as our friendly neighbourhood epicurean expert, Jake, proceeds to walk us through a well studied history and craftsmanship behind tequila, mezcal and Mexico’s lesser known drinks such as racilla, bacanora and sotol, all of which are derived and extracted from the hard-working native Agave plant. This journey is of course accompanied by more drinks and nibbles at well timed intervals along the way. For instance, as we learn the origins of that perennial favourite: the Margarita, said drink is kindly served to us at the pertinent juncture in Jake’s learned lecture by more of The Distillery’s charming staff.
Now, although I may seem to be implying that the main aim of this experience is to get us all thoroughly sloshed, I can assure you that aside from that, we all really do learn a lot on the way. For instance, I now know that it is well worth the pilgrimage to taste Julio Bermejo’s famed ‘Tommy’s Margarita’ recipe which was conceived at his parent’s restaurant in 1990 in San Francisco; and likewise Don Javier’s “Batanga” created in 1961 at La Capilla (the chapel) actually in the town of Tequila itself, in Mexico.
Plate it up
I should also make more mention of the food we experience throughout Jake’s marvellous lecture. We have guacamole to die for, served with the tastiest smokey home-made tortilla chips we’ve ever had or are likely to have. This is followed by tortillas served with melt in your mouth braised ox cheek and delicious fish goujons. Finally we arrive at the nine sipping measures of tequila and mezcal that have been tantalisingly sat in front of us throughout, and are invited to make notes and comment on each and every one of them based on the knowledge that has just been imparted to us.
As if this isn’t all enough, the generous Distillery gives us all a bottle of Tequila Herradura (the brand that they are partnered with to present this marvellous experience) to take home with us, alongside a small oak barrel in which we can age our own tequila to our respective tastes.
Seriously, what more could you ask for? We could not recommend The Agave Sessions or The Ginstitute highly enough. They should both most definitely be on your must-do lists for your immediate futures. Go, enjoy, and raise a glass for us as you do.
£100 per person, price includes a Mexican lunch, bottle of Tequila Herradura (RRP £40) and barrel to take home plus tequila cocktails and tasting along with the masterclass.
www.the-distillery.london, 186 Portobello Road, W11.