Much in the vein of Corazon’s Expresion de Corazon tequilas, which are finished in special whiskey barrels, Herradura is experimenting with exotic finishes to its tequilas. Coleccion de la Casa is a new line of limited edition tequilas which will be released annually, each a unique experience.
First out the gate is Reserva 2012, a reposado which is aged in medium-char American oak for 11 months, then finished in vintage Port casks for another two months of aging.
Some thoughts. Lovely, moderate amber color. Quite a peppery nose, with plenty of agave on it. Some almond notes, too. The body is very lush. Rounded, with a flood of citrus notes, caramel, vanilla, and a long finish that brings forward raisins, plum pudding, and some bittersweet chocolate character — all clearly driven by the Port. Engaging and fun, this is altogether a great combination (of course, I’m a well known sucker for Port-finished whiskeys, so why wouldn’t I be one for Port-finished tequilas, too?).
Looking forward to seeing what Herradura does with the next edition.
A / $90 / herradura.com
What if you were to take bourbon barrels that have held some of the most coveted and highly awarded whiskies in the world – George T. Stagg, Old Rip Van Winkle, Sazerac 18 Year Old and Buffalo Trace, and age tequila in them? Even better, what if the Master Distiller who created these fine whiskies hand selected these barrels based on his knowledge and expertise of terroir and barrel aging?
That’s the come-on for this bold experiment in tequila-making, the first ever (to my knowledge) attempt to take high-end tequila (Corazon) and put it in barrels used to make high-end Bourbon (a variety of highly coveted bottlings). (Tequila is typically aged in ex-Bourbon barrels but no one ever says what Bourbon, likely because it’s the cheap stuff.)
Crazy idea, right? Well, here’s how it turned out. We sampled all five bottlings. All are 80 proof except the Sazerac expression.
Expresiones de Corazon Blanco – The baseline, unaged and just for fun, really. Racy, peppery agave on the nose. Smells like it’s going to be harsh. It’s not. The blanco goes down super smoothly, exhibiting notes of lemon, mint, and lightly bitter herbs — almost a bit like an absinthe. One of the least-sweet tequilas on the market, this dry spirit is crisp and clean yet more suited to mixing. B+ / $60
If you’re unfamiliar with the SkinnyGirl phenomenon, either you don’t go down the booze aisle at your grocery store or you’re a dude. SkinnyGirl is one of the fastest-growing brands in the spirits (and wine) world, and its vast array of “low-cal” alcoholic beverages have ladies’ night positively abuzz.
It was only a matter of time before SkinnyGirl hit the margarita world, and this pre-mixed margie is already drawing competition. One of those competitors is called SmarteRita. It may not roll off the tongue, but really we’re more concerned about how it fares going the other way.
We put the two cocktails head to head to see how they shaped up. Both were tasted blind. Notes follow.
A beverage with a name like Wild Shot doesn’t exactly wear subtlety on its sleeve, and this unaged mezcal — complete with, or rather extremely proud of, the worm at the bottom of the bottle — doesn’t really hold back. Country musician Toby Keith is the man behind this celebrezcal, and you can click the official link below if you’d like to see the man with a gusano between his teeth.
Made from 100% green agave, Wild Shot pours clean and offers a rich and straightforward smokiness on the nose, far more savory than sweet. On the body it’s more of the same — mesquite fire smoke, with a sweeter finish that offers some caramel and just a hint of citrus fruit. Very simple and straightforward, it’s a fine mezcal that novices will undoubtedly enjoy, but which lacks the depth that true mezcal fans will want.
But hey, at least you get to eat the worm.
B / $43 / wildshot.com
Never mind the goofy name and goofier bottles. This is good, 100% agave, Highlands tequila that has partnered with the famous Baja hotel for its name and branding.
These are unusual bottles, to say the least. Mind the intriguing-looking yet wholly dysfunctional stoppers. The only thing harder than getting them out of the bottle (that tapered top makes gripping them impossible) is getting them back in.
All three expressions are reviewed below. All expressions are 80 proof.
Late last year, so-called “cult tequila” Tapatio finally arrived in the U.S. after 75 years of Mexico-only availability. But only the blanco was being sold.
Now, the rest of the lineup arrives on our shores, rounding out the Tapatio family with a reposado and an anejo.
We sampled the two new expressions, imported courtesy of Charbay. Both are great bargains, packaged in liter bottles. Both are 80 proof.
If tequila is the cuestion is mezcal the antser?
Bad jokes aside, but when faced with a tequila that’s bottled in an upside-down question mark, the wordplay comes fast and furious.
This Highlands tequila is, of course, 100% blue agave and all expressions are bottled at 80 proof.
Tequila Cuestion Blanco – Old school silver, with lots of agave on the nose. Lemon and lime notes follow. Moving to the palate you’ll find touches of lemon on the body, with lots of fresh agave and a variety of citrus notes on the back end. This tequila starts out with a lot of burn but give it some time in the glass to open up and the citrus starts to develop nicely. A nice alternative to some of the ultra-sweet tequilas out there, even if it is on the simple side in the end. A- / $38
This new tequila brand hails from Los Altos, in the Jalisco Highlands. Packaged in squat, antique glass bottles, it’s as eye-catching as it is easy to drink. Thoughts on the two expressions — an unaged blanco and a reposado — follow. Both are 80 proof.
Cruz Silver Tequila - I hate it when spirits are described as “smooth,” but that’s the most perfect descriptor for Cruz’s blanco that I can think of. Very subtle and restrained, this is a tequila for those among you that aren’t looking for an agave bomb. Don’t even think about lime and salt, this is a pure, silky sipping tequila that goes down easy as is. Lemony and grassy, it’s moderately sweet with a big, creamy body, with just a mild agave herbal character on the back end. Some creamy flan notes finish out the tequila. Altogether a really standout blanco, provided you’re not looking for a big agave rush. A / $35
George Clooney seems to like his tequila like he likes his women: Sweet.
This much talked-about celebrity project doesn’t hide its backer on the back label like some vanity spirits: The Cloon’s signature is right on the front. (It looks like “Geogo Cloy” but that’s close enough, I think.)
Available in blanco and reposado expressions, this 100% Highlands agave tequila is currently an exclusive at BevMo retailers. Both are 80 proof.
Check the very bottom of your favorite upscale Mexican restaurant’s tequila menu and you’ll likely see a very expensive Jose Cuervo on the list: Reserva de la Familia.
This annual release (introduced in 1995 to celebrate Cuervo’s 200th anniversary) is an exotic blend of tequilas with an average age of 3 years old. Some of the spirits are up to 30 years old, according to Cuervo. This is our third vintage to review, having previously covered the Reserva in 2008 and 2010. Each year, the 17,000 bottles made are packed in special-edition wooden crates painted by a Mexican artist. For this 17th edition, Ricardo Pinto created the design.