The gimmick with Calirosa is right in the name: Instead of ex-bourbon barrels, this tequila is aged in California red wine barrels — even the blanco, for a short time — which gives the spirit a naturally pink, or rosa, hue. The operation uses a blend of highland and lowland agave and makes three expressions, the “rosa blanco,” anejo, and extra anejo. No reposado on offer here, oddly.
We tried two. Thoughts follow.
Both are 80 proof. NOM 1459.
Calirosa Tequila Rosa Blanco – Aged 30 days in California red wine barrels. Inviting on the nose — peppery and infused with green agave notes, but not overwhelmingly so — and quite floral, with unmistakable notes of rose petals, which seems impossible given the construction of the tequila but which I swear is true. The lightly pink spirit offers much the same on the palate, plus a clear note of white chocolate, giving the tequila a creamy consistency that pairs well with its perfumed, floral elements. Light notes of lemon oil, a hint of pickly dill, and a buttery note take things out on the finish. It’s an unorthodox but delightful little blanco that flips the script on expectations. A / $50 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]
Calirosa Tequila Anejo – Aged 18 months in California red wine barrels. Deeply pinkish-orange in color, there’s less agave influence here (as expected), with sweet cotton candy and brown sugar coming quickly to the fore. Some peppery notes are evident underneath, but they largely fade into the background. The palate’s equally sweet and more straightforward than the blanco presents itself, here showcasing more of a brown sugar character atop a strong cinnamon element — almost syrupy at times. Fruit seems like it must be in there somewhere, but it can’t muscle through the sweetness, which dominates into the finish, evoking pancakes at breakfast. That might not be out of place in an extra anejo, but it definitely comes across as overwhelming here. While I confess to having a sweet tooth at times, I found myself gravitating to salty snacks to cut through some of that sugar during this tasting. B / $75 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]