Friday, June 20, 2008

¡Olé, Tequila!

As regular readers will know, I will occasionally take a break from my musings on Tolkien, Lewis, philology, and other deep subjects, to write about my adventurous tastes in food and drink. It being a lovely Friday, and the first day of summer, today seemed ideal for another installment. Wednesday evening, I attended a tequila tasting where one was permitted to taste any twelve of the 35 bottles they opened. Does that sound like a lot of tequila? Well, I even snuck in an extra one for a baker’s dozen. Here they are, in order by the average price per bottle here in my neighborhood. (Your prices may vary.)

1921 Tequila Cream Liqueur ~$30
Tequila 1800 Select Silver 100 ~$39
Corzo Silver ~$51
La Certeza Añejo ~$54
Partida Silver ~$55
Partida Reposado ~$59
TequilaMe Extra Añejo ~$60
Patron Añejo ~$62
Partida Añejo ~$66
Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Reposado ~$85
Jose Cuervo Reserva de Familia ~$124
Don Julio 1942 ~$125
Patron Gran Platinum ~$226

As you can see, I chose the more unusual, harder to find, and expensive tequilas to sample. Wouldn’t you? They had several tequilas I knew well, and like very much, but skipped over so that I could try others that were new to me — e.g., Sauza Tres Generaciones Añejo and Chinaco Añejo. They also had a few cocktails on offer, like a Patron Margarita and Cabo Wabo “Pink Taco”. But while I do enjoy a good margarita, I can make a better one myself. And I certainly wasn’t up for anything as gauche as the Cabo Wabo concoction, obviously the official bebida of spring break revelers. All I can tell you is that it involved watermelon. Perhaps I’m being an elitist, but I don’t like the idea of drinking a tequila associated with Sammy Hagar. Maybe if I were still in college. Naah, not even then. ;)

I won’t bore you by reproducing all of my tasting notes here, but I will single out a few of the tequilas I tried for further comment — in the same order shown above. Right off the bat, some of you might be curious about the 1921 Tequila Cream Liqueur. Basically, it is to tequila what Bailey’s Irish Cream is to Irish Whiskey, only worse. It had a coffee flavor, suggesting the possibility of a partnership with Kahlúa, and the taste was just, well, let’s just say I wasn’t a fan. Not that I don’t ordinarily love coffee, Kahlúa, and tequila individually. Mixed together, I can’t imagine why anyone would drink it.

Next, the Tequila 1800 Select Silver 100. I tried this because it’s the only 100 proof tequila on the market today. Typically, tequilas are 75–80 proof. It was surprisingly smooth for its 50% alcohol content, only burning the throat a little bit, hahae. But what it offered in potency, it lacked in flavor. Effective, but not particularly enjoyable. Think faintly tequila-flavored moonshine, and you’re on the right track.

I tried the TequilaMe because it was the only extra añejo featured at the event. This is a relatively new categorization in Mexico, bestowed on 100% blue agave tequilas aged for three years or more. It was quite good, and very smooth; however, I found their childish advertising off-putting. “Abrázame. Bésame. TequíleMe.” Ugh. Even worse, the Q in their logo was composed of the two gender symbols, interlocked in some kind of sexual position only possible under the influence of tequila. You can see it for yourself, here. Give me a break. They may as well sell it with condoms and be done with it.

The Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Reposado was one of my favorite tequilas of the night. Very smooth and delicious, with faintly tropical notes. At the risk of sounding completely pretentious, I would say I detected a hint of mango and orange blossom. But equally good was Jose Cuervo Reserva de Familia, which I’ve had once before at a Mexican restaurant called Ciudad D.F., which is sadly now closed. The Reserva de Familia is 18-month añejo blended with privately owned tequilas that have been aging for thirty years. You can imagine how smooth it is. If money were no object, I’d have these two in my cupboard at home at all times.

The Don Julio 1942 was new to me, quite good, and different. As you may know, the best tequilas are generally categorized by their ages, from plata to reposado to añejo, and now extra añejo. But for the 1942, as the distiller told me, they simply do not care about the age. Rather, it’s about cultivating the flavor they want, and accordingly, it was like no other tequila I’ve tasted before. The strongest notes were of vanilla. It was remarkable and delicious. In fact, it reminded me of 1 Barrel, a Belizean rum. Strange comparison! Of course, 1 Barrel is about $10 USD for a 1.5L, less than a tenth the price of Don Julio 1942. :)

Finally, for all its hefty price and its triple distillation, Patron Gran Platinum wasn’t particularly impressive. It was a silver tequila, though they prefer to call it platinum for obvious reasons. In their marketing collateral they call it the “smoothest sipping tequila ever produced.” Hmm, well, I’ll grant that it was extremely smooth for a silver, but I would take the Milagro Barrel Reserve Reposado or the Cuervo Reserva de Familia over it any day of the week. The Gran Platinum was good, no doubt, but not worth its price. I bet it would make a killer margarita, though.

Finally, a word about the Partida tequilas, of which I tried all three on offer (what a pity they didn’t open a bottle of their extra añejo, which retails for $350). The word is — excellent. For the price, they’re hard to beat. Comparable to the Sauza Tres Generaciones and Chinaco Añejos, they’re also hand crafted at every stage of the process, from cultivating and harvesting the agave to the distillation to the bottling. If I ever make a trip to Jalisco, I’d like to visit them. In everything but the strictest legal definition, their entire operation is organic and sustainable as well. Give one of them a try. And learn more about tequila here and here.


  1. So you know all about my bad experience with Tequila in Mexico. Some of your descriptions are causing me to black out...again.

    Question, and if you wrote about it, please forgive me...I do work sometimes ;)

    How big were your samples? And, after 12 psudo shots of Tequila (the devil's milk), how in the hell did you get home, my friend?

    Great post Jase!


  2. Well done, old scratch. There's only one missing from your list that would have been nice to sample. :)

  3. Hey PJ. The samples were small. Certainly much less than an ordinary shot (1 oz.). They poured them into those expensive Riedel glasses, too, so we wouldn’t feel like we were pounding shots. :)

    Still, thirteen of them, hmm, that was probably about four or five ounces of tequila in total. Over only about forty-five minutes, with no food. I was a bit, err, flush by the time I left. But I drove safely, never fear.

  4. Anon: is that you, Gary? I don’t know too many others who’d write “Well done, old scratch” to me.

    As for Tila Tequila, I don’t think I’ve had all the necessary shots for a close-up encounter with her! I’m not saying she’s a skank, but, well, I’ll let her put it in her own words (NSFW). ;)

  5. Best posting EVER!! Well done, Anon!