Bourbon – just like a smoldering apple pie perfectly resting on a window sill – is embedded in the American pedigree. It is definitely not the first spirit you think of when talking Latino liquors. But although tequila and rum hold so much delicious familiarity, our palate knows and wants much more.
Jesus Ricardo Tapia, the creator of J.R Revelry, a new independent hand-crafted bourbon whiskey coming out of Atlanta, Georgia, has entered Latinos into the bourbon-making conversation. The Peruvian-bred family man stamped his actual initials as the name of his drink of choice, and has been in the spirits business for 17 years – to say that his taste is on point is an understatement. Rick Tapia has spent years sipping bourbon and breaking down it’s nuances (because if you haven’t heard all bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon).
To legally qualify as bourbon, the spirit must be produced in the United States, made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn and aged in new charred oak barrels. And for more technicalities, it must be distilled to no more than 160 proof, entered into the barrel at 125 proof , and bottled at no less than 80-proof – with no added flavoring, coloring or other additives.
Tapia became a mad scientist, trying blend after blend to produce the smoothest small-batch bourbon he could. Another, ‘in case you didn’t know’ factoid about bourbon: most of the grain mixtures contain rye – which isn’t a bad thing – more of a preference thing. The bourbon that won over Tapia’s senses had no rye but instead held barley. He had concocted a velvety and elegant bourbon marked with a rich amber color that finishes with a hint of smoke and spice that doesn’t linger too long on the palate.
Now that Tapia had the bourbon he knew could build a legacy for him and his family, he tirelessly searched for the right distillery, landing on the old Seagram’s distillery in Indiana.
Tapia is also the CEO/Founder of La Bodega Internacional (LBI), a Hispanic-owned, handcrafted premium spirits company based in Atlanta and has launched J.R Revelry as their first well-crafted bourbon. He is hellbent on constructing his own distillery and turning his American dream into a reality for the people he loves. Tapia’s heritage and family isn’t something he is willing to compromise – he wanted to create a brand that was a tribute to his past. The J.R Revelry bottle is sophisticated and sleek with scalloped shoulders that is pinned with the ‘Hecho in America’ label- a humble nod to his roots. His sisters help him with the logistical and business end of running LBI and J.R Revelry. These ladies are constantly looking for opportunities to see their brother’s brand flourish.
Jesus Ricardo Tapia is making bourbon that is delicious while also making space for other Latino spirit producers to have their own lane to drive in.