Since tequila, legally speaking, has to be distilled in Mexico, it might seem strange to talk about Houston having a local brand of tequila. But native Houstonian Robert Tijerina intends to be just that with Titanium Tequila. Titanium is headquartered in Houston, but the company has complete control over the manufacturing and distilling process, from the fields in the Jalisco highlands where the agave is grown, through the copper double-distillation, all the way to the point the tequila is bottled and imported before being distributed to store shelves.
One of the major reasons Tijerina wanted to start a tequila line was due to the increased prevalence of “mixto” tequila in the market. While tequila does have to be made from the blue agave plant, it is no longer required to be 100-percent blue agave to be labeled tequila. A mixto tequila can be made with as little as 51-percent blue agave sugars, with the rest being distilled from other sources, usually cane sugar. A mixto tequila is also allowed to contain additives or adulterants such as caramel coloring. Tijerina wanted to introduce a quality, 100-percent agave tequila to the market. Also, though the tequila is not certified organic, Tijerina told me they use organic ingredients as much as possible during the process, as higher quality ingredients make for a better tequila.
In our conversation, Tijerina frequently mentioned what a dynamic and vibrant city he finds Houston to be; his love of the city led him to want a create a hometown spirit that would be worthy of the name. As Tijerina’s parents are from Mexico and he has spent substantial time there over the years, tequila seemed like a natural choice.
Titanium has only been on shelves for a few years, but is already winning awards: the reposado won a gold medal at the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and the blanco scored a 94 (“Excellent, Highly Recommended”) at the 2017 Ultimate Beverage Challenge.
I was able to sample the blanco, both in a margarita and neat, and I can confirm that it deserves the awards it received. Neat, the texture is soft, with the fresh and spicy flavors of a quality blanco tequila; the up-front sip contains some heat, but the finish is remarkably smooth nonetheless. The tequila also made for an excellent margarita, smooth and well-balanced without being too sweet. (I did not try it in a Paloma, but that was the cocktail recommendation from the Ultimate Beverage Challenge.)
The price is reasonable, too—all three standard varieties, the blanco, reposado, and añejo, are available for less than $40. If you want a special tequila treat, the label will be releasing an extra-aged variety soon. That bottling will age the tequila for a minimum of three years, before blending in a five-year extra añejo tequila at an 80/20 ratio. Titanium is available in most liquor stores in town and throughout Texas. It’s also available at some local restaurants, such as El Tiempo Cantina and the Landry’s chain, which includes Morton's and Cadillac Bar. The company recently struck a distribution deal to expand to Colorado, Florida, Louisiana and Oklahoma, if you have to leave our state and still want to pick up a Houston spirit.
In addition, Titanium will feature at some upcoming events and specials around town, including a featured margarita at El Tiempo, which will donate a percentage of each sale to the Houston Fire Department. Fittingly for his attempt at a Houston-based tequila, Tijerina intends to create a serious name and footprint for the drink in this city. And so far, he has a quality spirit that you should consider ordering or buying next time you’re out and want tequila.