As tequila finishing is now a ‘thing’ in Irish Whiskey – see JJ Corry The Battalion & Killowen Experimental Series Tequila Cask – along with the fact tequila distillers Jose Cuervo own Bushmills – I thought an exploration of the category would be fun.
Tequila is a highly regulated spirit.
The governing body – Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) operate strict guidelines as to what is – or is not – allowed under the Official Standards of Tequila – or NOM – which are available at crt.org.mx
Jose Cuervo is the biggest selling Tequila brand in the world – stats from 2019 here.
The brands bottles are readily available in Ireland & I picked up their Especial Reposado for appraisal.
All tequila has to be made with the blue agave plant in Mexico.
If it doesn’t state ‘100% agave’ – like this especial – it must contain a minimum of 51% agave. The remainder can be made up of permitted additives; caramel colouring, natural oak extract, glycerin & sugar syrup for example.
This obviously effects the tasting experience.
So how did I find Jose Cuervo Especial Reposado?
Well – initially that distinctive pungenty earthy agave aroma greeted me – but it was overlaid by a sweet & slightly sickly caramel I dislike in many a whiskey.
The palate was very smooth & easy – just lacking a rich powerful earthiness – which is what I’m after in a tequila.
Only on the finish did those lovely agave notes resurface as it gently dried out leaving a peppery spice.
This is mass market stuff.
Simple, sweet, easy & smooth.
And it sells well.
It’s the equivalent of many a blended whiskey & exhibits the same sweet caramelly notes that – on my palate at least – hide the purity of the agave – or subtleties of the barley – depending on your drink of choice.
Just like whiskey – to get the better stuff you usually have to pay more.
The annual celebration that elevates the simple act of tucking into haggis, neeps & tatties – washed down with a Scotch – into an extravaganza of a marketing ploy & cultural highlight for Scotland, it’s people, the place and above all – the whisky.
Rabbie Burns image adorns many a bottle, T-shirt, mug or poster as ubiquitously as Che Guevara’s does in other places. Burns predates Guevara’s rebellious nature by supporting the French Revolution of 1789.
Both have become re-invented & re-packaged as popular icons – often disassociated from the narrative of their actual lived lives.
Burns Nectar Single Malt is just one manifestation of this trend.
A sweet honeyed aroma on the nose.
There’s a touch of character on the palate however.
Smooth & sweet to begin with, it dries out midway displaying some dark fruitiness & a touch of tobacco.
A playful prickly tingling is left on the finish.
Rabbie Burns eked out a living as an impoverished farmer, later elevating his earnings as a tax collector.
His fame as a poet mainly came posthumously – and continues to rise today.
There has been a positive explosion of Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey on the market.
It’s marvelous to witness the revival of this historic style of whiskey.
Originally created as a tax dodge – malted barley attracted duty, unmalted did not – so distillers used unmalted barley in the mix to avoid the burden and created a well loved flavour profile in the process.
Distilled & matured at the old Kilbeggan Distillery itself – which has maintained a continuous licence since 1757. This whiskey marks another milestone in the long – and often chequered – history of this esteemed distillery.
Living – as I do – only half an hour away, I popped down to purchase a bottle.
This is on the more soft, caramelly sweet, subtle & safe side of single pot still.
It didn’t reach out and grab me.
A delicate creaminess at the start – a small percentage of oats are used in the mix – gave way to a smooth honeyed middle – followed by a lovely dry prickly spice on the finale.
It’ll probably please many.
Just lacked a certain pzazz & flair for my palate.