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Viva Mexico! My first Tequila roundup

By Miguel in Tasting , Featured , Tequila

Hello Amigos!,

Barely a month ago I drank an ice-cold Tequila Sunrise after lunch, and so impressed I was that I decided I had to learn more about Tequila. So here it is this huge ( and I mean HUGE! ) article about Tequila, Mezcal and Mexico. I have tasted twenty tequilas for the occasion and to my surprise ( and your perhaps ) I have tasted one better than many Scotch whiskies I have tried in the last three years.

Viva_Mexico_by_mexicanos1

So, click play on the video to get the spirit into you and keep reading with me.

So, what the hell is Tequila? Point one, forget any stuff that you have previously drank and made you unconscious.

Tequila is a spirit distilled from particular type of cactus called agave ( in fact it is distilled from a single agave type called Blue Agave Tequilana ) and much like brandy two different styles of tequilas depending on their origin:

  • Tequila that is the beverage that contains at least 51% of agave juice and the rest are other sugars ( from other grains like corn or malt )
  • 100% Tequila that is composed completely of agave juice.

Each of these two types can be found on the next classification:

  • Blanco, unaged, plata, White are tequilas that haven’t touch any barrel, straight from the still.
  • Joven, Oro, Gold are tequilas with a part of añejo or reposado tequilas and blended with tequila blanco.
  • Reposado are tequilas aged from 2 months up to 1 year in oak casks.
  • Añejo are tequilas aged from 1 year up to 3 years in oak casks
  • Extra Añejo or Ultra aged are tequilas aged for more than three years ( and here is where the fantastic stuff is )

The younger the product the more “raw” and “newmake-like” it is. So if you happen not to enjoy new make or moonshine as I do, get a Tequila Añejo or older. Anyway, I have to say that I have enjoyed some of the Blanco Tequilas but most of them are too raw for me.

How Tequila is made

So where tequila comes from? Tequila is a distilled beverage made from the fermeted juice, also known as pulque, of the Blue Agave, mainly around the city of Tequila in Jalisco, Mexico.
Pulque is made using a different variety of Agave but never using blue agave.

Jimador-2-e1305903264537

Tequila is made in a quite different way of whisky. There are several step in the process

Planting and harvesting Agave

The Blue Agave has to be planted around twelve years before the harvest so it has time to grow. When the agave is ready, a jimador will cut the plant and remove all but the core that weight around 80-90 kg. That is what will be used for tequila and it is called piña, spanish word for pineapple.

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Cooking the piña

Then the piña is cut in halves and cooked in huge ovens so the starches turns into sugar that will be later fermented into alcohol.

Mezcal_Cooking-Agave_big-pile

Mezcal is done much like Tequila but using different kind of agave and as the result of the different way of extracting sugars from the piña, it is a smoky spirit, think of it as an Islay Tequila :), and it is because the agave is cooked in a huge pit like a barbecue.

The resulting product is milled and mixed with hot water.

This step is much like the process than happens on the washback of scotch whisky.

Fermentation

The agave juice is the either send to the fermentation tanks or mixed with other sugars and send to the fermentation tanks. 100% Agave Tequila contains only juices from Agave piñas.

Then the yeast works on the liquid and a slightly alcoholic “beer” appears. Sounds familiar?

Distillation

Tequila_still

Not much is talked about the still but for what I have seen several producers uses column stills to get the tequila and it is distilled always at least two times with some craftwers going to three or four distillations. The photo above features a double distillation pot stills system, much like scotch.

Aging

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Tequila is aged in oak casks, most of them coming from the huge bourbon industry of the United. So white oak is the most common type of casks. Usually tequila is sold unaged or aged for up to a year. Lately it has entered into the premiumisation of the product and it is aged for more than three years and the result are drams that can rival with best scotch whiskies ( to my amazement! ).

The Whiskies, erm, I mean, the Tequilas

Enough chit-chat, lets taste the product. I have tasted all of them straight, with no water added and in the same glasses that I enjoy whisky.

IMG_3758

By the way, as usual, I have tasted the following tequila without knowing the name or the brand or the alcohol abv.

Sauza Tres Generaciones Silver Tequila

“Very newmake like ( what the hell was I expecting!? ) with a nice liquorice notes.”

70
Sauza Tres Generaciones Plata (Silver) Tequila
70cl / 38% - A triple distilled premium tequila from the folks at Sauza, named for the three generations of their family who have been crafting their tequila since 1873.

This dram has a white-like color.

Nose (69): average. floral, citrus, potatoes, spicy, pepper. It feels very newmake like.

Palate (70): powerful, oily. floral, spicy, liquorice, citrus, pepper.

Finish (70): average. citrus, liquorice, spices.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Sauza Tres Generaciones Plata (Silver) Tequila with 70 points over 100.

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Mano Negra Espadin

“More spicy and with a more cactus-aromas than Tequila. I like this style of Mezcal”

72
Mano Negra Espadin

This dram has a white-like color.

Nose (70): more than average. floral, spices, cinnamon, citrus, alcohol.

Palate (73): powerful, oily. honey, citrus, spices, floral, cinnamon, cactus.

Finish (74): longer than average. honey, spices, floral.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Mano Negra Espadin with 72 points over 100.

Don Julio Blanco Tequila

“Good tequila with a good amount of agave aromas as well as candies”

72
Don Julio Blanco Tequila
70cl / 38%

This dram has a white-like color.

Nose (71): more than average. floral, citrus, spices, candies, potatoes.

Palate (72): smooth, oily. citrus, floral, potatoes, spices, candies, liquorice.

Finish (73): longer than average. honey, citrus, agave.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Don Julio Blanco Tequila with 72 points over 100.

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Tequila Chamucos Blanco

“Great tequila. Lots of floral and agave aromas on this one”

73
Tequila Chamucos Blanco
70cl / 40% - Chamucos, which means devil or demon in Mexico, is made from 100% Weber Blue Agave under the watchful eye of master distiller Wilfirdo Ortega Casas. A number of techniques are applied to bring the best out of these Agave plants including"playing Classical music during distillation".

This dram has a white-like color.

Nose (70): more than average. citrus, floral, potatoes, honey, rosemary.

Palate (76): powerful, oily. honey, spicy, citrus, liquorice, pepper, agave.

Finish (73): longer than average. honey, agave, liquorice.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Tequila Chamucos Blanco with 73 points over 100.

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Clase Azul Plata

“Something quite special. A sweet white tequila... I like it”

72
Clase Azul Plata
Tequila Clase Azul Plata contains organic agaves that have matured for at least nine years, slow cooking of the agave hearts in traditional ovens, fermentation using the company's secret combination of yeasts, careful distillation to ensure the highest quality possible, water refined in a five steps process and triple tequila filtration to ensure superior quality.

Clase Azul is bottled in unique decanters that are hand-made in local communities.

This dram has a white-like color.

Nose (70): average. citrus, floral, spices, toffee.

Palate (73): smooth, oily. honey, floral, agave, spices, wood. Sweet! This id First sweet tequila that I have tasted.

Finish (73): average. honey, agave, floral.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Clase Azul Plata with 72 points over 100.

Sombra

“Quite strange stuff! If Balcones Brimstone ever reincarnate into Tequila it would be like Sombra”

70
Sombra

This dram has a white-like color.

Nose (68): average. floral, smoke, citrus, leather, plastic. It smells like an smoke cheap plastic leather-imitation shoes.

Palate (71): powerful, oily. citrus, smoke, floral, spices, agave.

Finish (70): average. smoke, citrus.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Sombra with 70 points over 100.

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Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Tequila

“Good tequila with a fruity and toffee touch. Interesting I say”

71
Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Platino Tequila
70cl / 40%

This dram has a -like color.

Nose (71): more than average. citrus, floral, agave, pineapple, toffee.

Palate (72): powerful, oily. floral, citrus, spices, pepper, agave.

Finish (71): average. honey, citrus, spices.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Platino Tequila with 71 points over 100.

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Siete Leguas Tequila Añejo

“Not very different from unaged tequila... slightly more sweet and with a more bold agave aroma character. Not bad”

73
Siete Leguas Anejo Tequila
70cl / 38% - A truly excellent 100% agave anejo aged for 18 months. Full-bodied, dense and complex with really authentic spicy agave character and persistent sweet oak notes. Pretty glorious stuff.

This dram has a white wine-like color.

Nose (73): average. citrus, agave, spices, floral, vanilla.

Palate (74): light, smooth. honey, citrus, agave, floral, wood, spices, pepper.

Finish (73): average. honey, citrus, agave.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Siete Leguas Anejo Tequila with 73 points over 100.

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Two Fingers Gold Tequila

“No! I will have to use two fingers to remove this beverage from my body”

70
Two Fingers Gold Tequila

This dram has a white wine-like color.

Nose (73): average. citrus, spices, agave, floral, spices.

Palate (68): powerful, oily. agave, citrus, spices, pepper, floral, wet.

Finish (68): longer than average. agave, citrus.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Two Fingers Gold Tequila with 70 points over 100.

Herradura Tequila Añejo

“That's good stuff hermano! Like proper Mexican Scotch! Thumbs up!”

83
Herradura Anejo Tequila
70cl / 40% - Highly-regarded by aficionados worldwide, this wonderful anejo has a beautiful pale gold colour, and a deliciously smooth, sophisticated palate.

This dram has a fino-like color.

Nose (83): more than average. honey, agave, vanilla, floral, candies. That's something completely different to the rest of Tequilas I have tasted so far.

Palate (83): powerful. honey, floral, citrus, agave, vanilla, spices.

Finish (84): average. honey, vanilla, agave.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Herradura Anejo Tequila with 83 points over 100.

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Corralejo Tequila Reposado

“Not bad but it really doesn't depart in a significative way of the unaged tequilas”

75
Corralejo Reposado Tequila

This dram has a white wine-like color.

Nose (76): more than average. agave, spices, citrus, floral.

Palate (76): light, smooth. honey, agave, citrus, floral, spices, vanilla.

Finish (73): short. honey, citrus, agave.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Corralejo Reposado Tequila with 75 points over 100.

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Sauza Tres Generaciones Tequila Añejo

“Simply great! A delightful sipping Tequila. I love how it smells...”

86
Sauza Tres Generaciones Añejo Tequila
70cl / 38% - Sauza's flagship brand, commemorating three generations of family control since the foundation of the company in 1873 and representing the pinnacle of the distiller's achievement.

This dram has a fino-like color.

Nose (80): more than average. Floral, candies, soap, agave, vanilla, honey, wood. Something quite special. Really. Some would say this is FWP Soap, but I love it.

Palate (90): powerful, oily. honey, candies, spices, agave, vanilla, pepper, wood.

Finish (88): longer than average. honey, agave, spices.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Sauza Tres Generaciones Añejo Tequila with 86 points over 100.

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Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Tequila

“Oh my! Oh my! This is the most mindblowing Tequila I have ever tasted. I, Must, Buy, it!”

91
Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Tequila
70cl / 38% - A really sumptuous anejo taken, as the name suggests, from the private stocks of the Cuervo family. This tequila has been aged five years for exceptional smoothness.

This dram has a cooper-like color.

Nose (92): more than average. honey, wood, floral, citrus, vanilla, agave. I swear this tequila smells like a very old grain whisky

Palate (91): dry, powerful, oily. honey, agave, wood, vanilla, spices, cinnamon, citrus.

Finish (91): longer than average. honey, agave, citrus, wood.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Tequila with 91 points over 100.

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Patron Tequila Añejo

“SLightly light for an Añejo tequila but still interesting. It reminds me of a floral light blended whisky”

81
Patron Anejo Tequila
70cl / 40% - A quality tequila from the well-known Patron brand, this super-premium anejo has made a big hit in top-end bars across the UK. Long-time fans of this tequila should check out Siete Leguas.

This dram has a fino-like color.

Nose (82): more than average. honey, agave, citrus, spices.

Palate (81): powerful, oily. honey, candies, agave, spices, citrus, liquorice.

Finish (80): no finish. honey, citrus, spices.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Patron Anejo Tequila with 81 points over 100.

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Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol Reposado

“It is a hell more herbal and floral than tequila with almost no aromas of agave. Not my kind of dram”

72
Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol Reposado
It is blanco that has been kept (or rested) in white oak casks or vats called "pipones" for more than two months and up to one year. The oak barrels give reposado a mellowed taste, pleasing bouquet, and its pale colour.

Reposado keeps the blue agave taste and is gentler to the palate.

This dram has a white wine-like color.

Nose (72): more than average. citrus, floral, herbal, honey.

Palate (73): powerful, oily. herbal, citrus, agave, spices, pepper.

Finish (70): average. herbal, citrus.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol Reposado with 72 points over 100.

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Jose Cuervo Especial Gold Tequila

“Not bad at all. Good agave aromas with lots of wood and spices for such young spirit”

79
Jose Cuervo Especial Gold Tequila
Jose Cuervo Especial gets its distinctive golden colour and smooth mellow taste from resting in oak casks. Drink neat, on the rocks or as a base for a superior Margarita.

This dram has a fino-like color.

Nose (79): more than average. agave, honey, spices, citrus, wood.

Palate (80): smooth, oily. honey, agave, wood, citrus, spices.

Finish (78): average. honey, wood, agave.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Jose Cuervo Especial Gold Tequila with 79 points over 100.

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La Penca Mezcal

What the fuck! I have just realized that I tasted a tequila with worms inside. That’s definitively a point down for blind tastings… I will keep this in mind for future bizarre stuff tastings.

“Quite interesting. Herbal, with notes of agave and smoke”

78
La Penca Mezcal (with worm!)

This dram has a white wine-like color.

Nose (79): more than average. honey, agave, citrus.

Palate (78): powerful, oily. honey, agave, smoke, citrus, wood.

Finish (78): average. honey, smoke, herbs.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this La Penca Mezcal (with worm!) with 78 points over 100.

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Clase Azul Tequila Reposado

“Wonderful tequila! A great dram with lots of delicious aromas of candies and agave. Must have”

84
Clase Azul Reposado
An ultra premium Tequila from the Jesus Maria region of Jalisco, Clase Azul is a 100% agave Tequila aged for a minimum of 8 months before bottling in a hand painted Talavera carafe.

This dram has a gold-like color.

Nose (78): more than average. agave, wood, citrus, floral, spices.

Palate (88): powerful, oily. honey, agave, candies, vanilla, wood, spices, cinnamon.

Finish (85): longer than average. candies, agave, wood.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Clase Azul Reposado with 84 points over 100.

Ocho Tequila Curado

“Quite powerful flavour on this dram. A good sensible option for aged tequilas”

80
Ocho Curado Tequila
It is rare in this industry that a totally new concept is launched, and the legendary Tomas Estes has done just that with an infusion of 100% agave Ocho Blanco tequila with pure cooked agave fibres.

This dram has a fino-like color.

Nose (79): average. agave, citrus, honey, spices.

Palate (82): powerful, oily. agave, spices, honey, wood, citrus, herbal.

Finish (80): longer than average. agave, honey, spices.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Ocho Curado Tequila with 80 points over 100.

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Herradura Tequila Reposado

“The Herradura Añejo is so much better... this one is lighter and the agave profile isn't as bold as other Reposado tequilas I have had”

77
Herradura Reposado Tequila
70cl / 40% - Aged for 11 months (just one month short of being classed as an anejo), Herradura claim to be the first company to age their tequilas in wood, making this the first ever reposado. Superbly integrated flavours.

This dram has a fino-like color.

Nose (75): average. .

Palate (78): powerful, oily. honey, floral, agave, liquorice, spices.

Finish (77): longer than average. agave, floral, honey.

So based on other whiskies I have already tasted I rate this Herradura Reposado Tequila with 77 points over 100.

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Miguel says…

A real surprise! I had in my mind tequila as an inferior beverage that gave you headaches but I have discovered a wonderful spirit, even in the unaged variants ( of which I am no fan ). I wanted to buy a Tequila for my Margaritas and my Tequila Sunrise so I finally opted for Herradura Reposado ( although I have to say that I though I was buying the Añejo bottle :P ) because a full bottle was in offer for £15.

Another huge surprise has been the Mezcal stuff, I didn’t even know what it was. If an Islay whisky ever has sex with a Tequila, it would be Mezcal the result. Smoky drams with lots of barbecue notes. Quite surprising and interesting, unfortunately if you think whisky prices are nut just wait to see how much you will have to pay for mezcal. :(

This month I have really run out of whisky ( or other alcohol money ) with my acquisition of Glenlivet Alpha and my new hobby, LEGO, but next month I plan to buy a bottle of Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia, a real cracker!.

That’s all by now folks.

PS: A huge thanks to Rubén Ubric of Casa Tequilera Azteca for the corrections on the process of making Tequila and its differences with Mezcal



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