Even tequila can be political…and not because of how or where it is made, but because of the man who makes it. Two weeks ago the latest venture from singer-song writer, performer, entrepreneur, author, and former Texas Gubernatorial candidate, Kinky Friedman, launched, Man In Black Tequila. A tequila for every man, a tequila of independence, a tequila that actually tastes like something more than the overly processed, filtered, sanitized and homogenized products that populate the shelves of liquor stores today.
I sat down with Kinky earlier today to learn more on the product he calls the “ultimate expression of the art of distillation,” and a tribute to “men like Paladin, Zorro and Johnny Cash who had moral clarity, knew right from wrong and tried to be a man of the people, unlike many who lead our country today. A hero or scoundrel, he was the force to be dealt with.” Our visit also led into his former run for Governor of Texas in 2006 and his continued firm beliefs of how to improve the state. He still believes that the state could be better run by musicians than politicians, as musicians do get up late but work late and they would be honest, and musicians understand the qualities needed to be a true artist – that you have to struggle, you have to be lonely and you have be ahead of your time and behind on your rent. Something he notes not many politicians understand.
So why tequila?
He couldn’t get Guinness on draft, so tequila is a good stage drink, which is coming in handy during his current “Southern Discomfort” tour through 16 cities in the South, where Man In Black is giving his last two good taste buds one heck of a party, and like a Barry Manilow song “will make you feel very good for a short period of time.” The idea behind Man In Black Tequila was to abandon all 21st Century distilling techniques and instead use copper stills, like they did in the old fashioned Mexican distilling days, with the best quality 8,9 and 10 year old Weber Blue Agave grown in the Jalisco Highlands of Mexico. This tequila tastes like the land, filtered just once to remove impurities, with aromatic floral, citrus and smoky aromas and smooth flavor coming from the quality of the plant, not over-processing and repeated filtering.
The brand comes in four styles, Plata, Reposado, Anejo and Black Extra Anejo, or Tequila Noir according to Kinky. The Reposado is the tequila Zorro would drink, or any person with a little mystery behind them. His tequila for the people, aged 8 months in charred American white oak barrels, this is Kinky’s smoke of life and tequila for the man who could do it all, but didn’t feel the need to prove it. The two Anejo Tequilas both rest in French red oak for at least 14 months, with the Extra Anejo aged for 8 years. Kinky wanted to call the 8 year aged “Tequila Noir” for the dark, shadowy, smoky color and flavor, but Mexican officials wouldn’t allow a French word to be used with the product of its national pride. Like everything with Kinky, there is a story.
This is his salute to the people. According to Kinky, if you want to be a man of the people, drink a tequila for the people…his Man In Black.
After drinking, you may be up for contributing to what will surely be his next run for Governor. He is definitely still interested and deeply concerned for our state’s future, with a hope to see beyond the horizon, much like he says Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and Ann Richards did in their time.
Many think he is a comedian. He is not. He is a passionate, interesting, well read independent who believes in heros, a great cigar and quality tequila, drunk cowboy style. Next time you see Kinky ask him how that is done. A portion of all profits from Man In Black Tequila goes to support the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, a never kill animal shelter in the Hill Country .