Category Archives: Tequila

Tequila, Terroir & Geographical Indicators

A recent post highlighting an Australian Agave Project caught my attention lately.

Courtesy Twitter Post

Being a fan of Tequila & Mezcal – both Geographical Indicator protected terms specific to Mexico – I was intrigued to hear of an Australian company growing agave with the intention of releasing an agave spirit.

Whilst researching for my Whisky In Africa blog I also happened to come across a distillery in South Africa already marketing a Karoo Agave drink.

Courtesy Twitter Post

Both of these companies immediately attracted my attention.

Neither of them can use the terms ‘Tequila’ or ‘Mezcal’ – but that is essentially what they are making.

Using agave plants – which can be grown outside of Mexico – to make the spirits using similar techniques the results would make for a very interesting tasting.

Would you be able to discern the difference between the 3 drinks?

I’d certainly love to try them!

What about you?

Sláinte

Explanation of what a Geographical Indicator is from World Intellectual Property Organisation website here.

Act Of Treason website here.

Leonista Agave website here.

Whisky In Africa blog here.

Header image courtesy Australian Agave Project.

Corazón Anejo Tequila, 40%

I have a decision to make when reaching for Tequila.

Do I choose the influence of the raw materials used in production or the influence of wood in the maturation of that product?

Blue Agave is the raw material – 100% in this Corazón Tequila – but there are a few different production methods that can effect the taste – earthen pits vs brick ovens vs autoclave to cook the agave being some.

I didn’t check which method Corazón used before drinking & have yet to do a back to back taste test of all 3 methods to discern any resultant differences.

However I have done a back to back tasting of Blanco Tequila – unaged – vs Reposado – aged between 2 & 11 months – vs Anejo – aged for more than 1 year – and it does make a noticeable taste variation.

With Blanco it’s all about the agave. The rich earthy notes I love complimented by a spicy pepperiness on the finish usually topped off by an oily mouthfeel.

With Anejo those agave notes are somewhat diminished by the influence of wood. Oaky tannins, vanillas & caramel all make an appearance resulting in a softer more rounded drinking experience.

I begin to encounter flavours associated with aged whiskey – where it’s all about the wood – & therefore generally prefer Blanco.

That’s not to say Corazón Anejo isn’t a fine Tequila – it is.

Smooth & silky, those agave notes are blended expertly with warm woodiness building engaging flavours – but for an alternative to my usual whiskey tipple – Blanco is the way to go.

What’s your preference in a Tequila?

Sláinte

For an article on Tequila production methods read here.

Corazón Tequila website here.

For Tequila ageing categories read here.

La Chica Tequila Gold, 38%

After a highly enjoyable day walking along the Barrow Way in Co Carlow a spot of liquid refreshment was in order.

Meaney’s Bar in Leighlinbridge proved a suitable resting spot & with the sun still shining a pint of cold lager fitted the bill.

Scanning the spirit shelves – as I do – revealed a La Chica Tequila Gold. Never having tried it before I thought it would make a sunshine style chaser to my cold lager.

Now ‘Gold’ usually denotes a mixto style of tequila whereby a minimum of 51% agave sugars must be used for distillation. This never puts me off exploring the category.

Slightly yellow in colour La Chica proffered a soft agave nose with a faint smokiness poking through. Fairly easy delivery – the earthy agave grassiness is evident along with that signature peppery spice on the rear. It’s a bit sharp on the finish – which fades quickly away – but it ticks all the right tequila flavour boxes.

An easy no nonsense tequila.

Over the next few days of my Barrow Way ambles further forays into local bars uncovered more La Chica. It got me thinking how availability of a brand is a boost to sales.

Turns out MCM Brands of Donegal handle La Chica in Ireland – as well as a few other brands you might be familiar with – & seem to have the South East well covered.

La Chica meanwhile appears to be a brand for Burlington Drinks in the UK who produce various other ‘house’ spirits for the market.

Whatever the source of La Chica – being tequila it must be made in Mexico & display distillery of origin – NOM1124 in this instance – as it was on the shelf I gladly partook of a few.

I’d gladly enjoy a few more when on the fabulous Barrow Way again!

Sláinte

Barrow Way information here.

Meaney’s Bar facebook here.

MCM Brands website here.

Burlington Drinks website here.

Tequila rules information here.

Azteca Tequila Blanco, 38%

Tequila is booming – at least according to a Spirits Business article here – and I’m enjoying the rise of this tasty distilled Mexican beverage.

Especially when it appears in my local Lidl.

Lidl keeps abreast of drinks trends & their own label spirits range is worth exploring – so much so they won Icons Of Whisky Own Brand Supermarket of the year at the 2022 World Whiskies Awards!

Impressive!

So how does their Azteca Tequila Blanco fare?

A welcome earthy agave nose.

Smooth & oily mouthfeel.

The rich agave notes return on the rear with a soft dry peppery spice livening up this very well balanced tequila.

Azteca satisfies my tequila tendencies!

Sláinte

All images authors own.

Casamigos Reposado Tequila, 40%

Bumping into George Clooney in Dungarvan was a bit of a novelty – well – his tequila at least.

Casamigos courtesy CelticWhiskeyShop

The tequila market in Ireland is dominated by a few global players with links to Irish Whiskey Distilleries.

Jose Cuervo is part of Proximo who do Bushmills & Olmeca is owned by Pernod-Ricard who do Jameson.

El Jimador – part of Brown-Forman who do Slane Whiskey – also get a look in & more rarely 1800 – also Proximo – & Don Julio – part of Diageo linked with Roe & Co – appear.

Casamigos is therefore a newcomer to the scene.

George Clooney courtesy BBC website

Originally founded in 2013 by George Clooney & friends, the brand benefitted hugely from his celebrity status attracting a lot of interest. Diageo bought the brand in 2017 and are capitalising on that celebrity link by promoting Casamigos worldwide.

The Old Bank courtesy Facebook

The Old Bank in Dungarvan have an extensive array of spirits on offer – Casamigos quickly stood out for me.

Reposado – rested in American Oak for 7 months – was my choice for this 100% Blue Agave Tequila.

Displaying a dark straw colour in the glass Casamigos Reposado enticed with rich, earthy agave notes & an additional heavy dark sweetness.

Silky smooth on the palate with more of that butterscotch like sweetness.

The signature peppery agave spice shone through on the finish with those butterscotch notes taking me back to childhood days making bowls of Instant Whip Butterscotch flavoured dessert.

Instant Whip courtesy Chronicle Live

Wasn’t expecting that in a tequila!

Good auld George – expanding the tequila scene in Ireland with some gorgeous memory inducing flavours!

Sláinte

Tattoos & Tequila, Vince Hill & Mike Sagar & the timing of celebrity spirits.

The attraction of hell raising rockers & torrid tabloid tales of their exploits appears to be undiminished.

A new mini-series ‘Pam & Tommy’ explores the infamous ‘sex tape’ of former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson & Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee.

Vince Neal is Mötley Crüe’s singer & in this 2010 book his antics, controversies & scandals are laid bare from his personal perspective.

The book coincided with his tequila launch – Tres Rios – as well as a solo tour.

Fast forward to 2022 & despite the enduring gossip around all things Mötley – Vince dead? – and a boom in celebrity tequila brands with George Clooney, Dwayne The ‘Rock’ Hudson & Kendall Jenner all selling loads – I can’t help thinking Vince was a bit premature with the launch.

Tres Rios appears to be out of production!

Sláinte

Olmeca Reposado Tequila, 38%

Olmeca Tequila is found in pretty much every Irish supermarket & is often the only tequila offered at many bars & hotels.

This shouldn’t be much of a surprise given Pernod Ricard own the brand & possibly use the Jameson distribution network for Olmeca too.

I’ve enjoyed a few glasses of Olmeca in various bars.

The nose portrays that signature agave pungency with hints of peppery spice.

The smooth palate lacks a little flair with an accentuated black peppery spice on the finish.

Olmeca Reposado ticks all the tequila taste boxes – but not being 100% agave it does miss out a tad on the flavour front.

Often listed as Olmeca Gold – denoting a mixto tequila where only 51% has to be agave based & Gold possibly being coloured – Olmeca Reposado – also mixto but with barrel ageing – appears to be the bottle supermarkets stock.

In the absence of any alternatives – it does the trick.

Sláinte

All images authors own.

Fear, Paranoia & Tasting By Numbers In The Spirits Category.

There appears to be a palpable fear within the spirits drinking community.

Fear of being ‘gouged’ or ‘ripped off’ by rogue producers.

Paranoia that brands aren’t being ‘honest and transparent’ in refusing to disclose every conceivable nugget of information.

Refusing to taste a spirit until the correct check list;

Trusted distillery – check.

Non chill filtered – check.

Single Malt – check.

Cask Strength – check.

Distillery release – check.

Or whatever criteria you choose has been adhered to.

It’s all so reductionist.

Taste is not defined by what is – or isn’t – written on the side of a bottle.

Taste isn’t made by engaging tweets or larger than life characters.

Taste is the complex interplay of the individual drinkers palate with the fruits of the raw ingredients, distilling process, blending & maturation regimes of the liquid before them.

Someone’s ‘amber nectar’ is another’s ‘gnat’s piss’.

What if all that extraneous information was removed?

What if all bottles of spirits simply stated the legal minimum?

No branding, no advertising, no stories?

Would the spirit taste the same?

Well – yes and no.

Yes in that the liquid – and your palate – remains the same.

Having blind tasted whiskey for the Irish Whiskey Awards over a number of years a familiar pattern of brands & styles consistently rise to the top.

On the other hand slick advertising, where & whom with you taste the liquid as well as your mood on the day can all sway the results.

But is there another fear at play?

Fear of enjoying a drink that is deemed unpopular?

Fear of enjoying a spirit that hasn’t matched your check list?

Or simply a fear of not conforming?

You don’t have to like the popular brands or top sellers.

Just enjoy what works for your individual palate.

Above all – enjoy the journey.

Sample & taste as far and wide as possible – you’ll quickly find your own sweet spot.

Sláinte

All images authors own.

KAH Tequila, Blanco, Reposado & Anejo, 40% to 55%

Meet my new amigos!

KAH, KAH & KAH.

Blanco, Reposado & Anejo.

All beautifully presented in signature ceramic Mexican Skull vessels – which certainly make them stand out in the crowd.

But how do they taste?

Blanco, 40%

Gorgeously rich black peppery spice nose.

Joyfully mouth coating & gently warming oily palate.

Vegetal agave notes mix with stimulating spice on an engagingly long lasting finish.

Class.

Reposado, 55%

Quite a spirity nose.

Only when I got out the magnifying glass did I realise this one’s at a stonking 55%!

Not encountered that before in Tequila!

Sadly – on my palate – the higher ABV gave a mouth blowing experience accentuating the peppery spice at the expense of the more subtle yet alluring agave notes.

Glad to have tried it – but not for me.

Anejo, 40%

Back to a richer, fuller flavoured & rounder drinking experience at 40%.

Less spice, more vegetal agave with a topping of oakiness.

A juicy lip-smacking finish.

Nice.

Thoughts

As is my personal palate preference – Blanco wins out.

The richness & influence of the agave raw ingredients are at their most pronounced with Blanco.

The 55% Reposado is something unique – but detracted from the warm flavours for me.

Anejo was lovely & complex with barrel ageing – just not engaging enough for my palate.

KAH have produced an extremely attractively packaged trio of tasty tequila.

Many may find them gimmicky – but I think both the Mexican Skulls & the rich agave notes within demonstrate & celebrate the joyfully long heritage of Tequila making.

Love’em!

Sláinte

All images authors own.

Jose Cuervo Tequila Tasting, 38% x 6

Global drinks group Jose Cuervo’s Tequilas regularly top the best selling charts.

In Ireland they aren’t doing too badly either with Bushmills coming in at No 3 for the Irish Whiskey category.

The recent hot weather prompted me to sample some Jose Cuervo Tequila.

One positive from the pandemic is a profusion of outlets offering tasting packs to whet your appetite.

c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

This particular 6 bottle selection was ordered from Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder – although other providers exist.

A zoom tasting accompanied it – I missed the date – but it didn’t deter me from enjoying the tequila!

Comprising of 3 separate ranges – all 100% blue agave & 38% ABV – I chose initially to compare within each brand starting with the Tradicional offerings.

Tradicional Tequila c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Traditional Silver

That classic earthy agave pungency greeted me with a hint of peppery spice.

Smooth & silky palate topped off with a hearty serving of signature black pepper spice on the finish.

Just what I expect from a tequila.

Traditional Reposado

The agave pungency was tempered a touch by hints of barrel ageing.

More complexity on the palate as the interplay between the raw ingredients used & wood maturation played out & added a hint of oakiness to the finish.

Very enjoyable – although the clear simplicity of the Silver won me over.

A trio of brand 1800 came next.

1800 Tequila c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

1800 Silver

Back – for me at least – to the signature agave & spice combination.

Lovely.

1800 Reposado

Once again – a lovely interplay between the distilling ingredients & wooden maturation.

1800 Anejo

I was beginning to miss the agave influence with this one!

It was there – but the barrel ageing dominated for me & detracted from what I’m looking for in tequila.

All 1800’s were enjoyable tipples – with Silver gaining my affections most.

Reserva Tequila c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Reserva de la Familia Extra Anejo

A solo offering that stood out from the others with a noticeably darker colour & clearly perceptible & pronounced wooden cask influence.

The sweet agave came through on the nose – but caramels & hints of vanilla more reminiscent of whiskey were evident.

Very smooth, very cultured & very engaging – tequila for the whiskey lover?

For a 2nd round I compared the Silver & Reposado offerings.

Silver Tequila c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Silver

Traditional’s flavour profile shone through with it’s defining features.

1800 delivered similar – but I found it a smoother, sweeter & ultimately a less exuberant offering.

Traditional for me!

Reposado Tequila c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Reposado

Tradicional was a shade lighter than 1800 – which suggests a shorter period in wood.

This played out in the tasting.

1800 had less spice, a sweeter & subdued feel to it with the wood influence a tad more forward.

The differences weren’t massive – & would be hard to pick up unless a back to back comparison was possible – but once more – Tradicional won the day.

Overall

As in all these tastings – I like to choose my favourite.

For the sheer clarity of flavours & bold display of the agave used in distillation there could only be one winner for me – Tradicional Silver.

Tradicional Silver c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

What would you have picked?

Sláinte

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