Review: El Tequileno Blanco
El Tequileno is an affordable brand founded by Don Jorge Salles Cuervo in 1959 that bills itself as “Mexico’s best-kept secret.” It’s made from blue agave from Los Altos de Jalisco (the Highlands) and volcanic spring water from El Volcan de Tequila. Unusually, this blanco (sometimes billed as Platinum on the label) is rested for 14 days in American oak barrels before bottling. If there’s any color to the finished spirit, it’s virtually impossible to see, coming across as nearly transparent.
There’s an earthiness to the nose that makes me think more of Lowlands agave than Highlands, though it also hits with aromas of pepper, charred beef, and a clear salty note. The palate is fairly creamy but quite herbal — not so much vegetal as it is informed by fresh rosemary and sage — with a buttery character tempering any heat on the palate. This chewiness on the tongue seems clearly driven by the two weeks of resting in oak, and a more vanilla-scented, wood-forward note emerges on the lasting finish. I get hints of jasmine and coconut on the back end, if you give it time.
It’s solid enough stuff at this price level for a 100% agave tequila, though I have to say the oak resting feels like a bit of a cheat for a blanco.
By the way, El Tequileno is the brand specifically called for in the original Batanga cocktail — a Cuba Libre made with tequila instead of rum, plus a healthy pinch of salt. Give it a whirl.
B+ / $24 / tequileno.com
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