El Tesoro loves to celebrate big anniversaries. In 2017 we saw its outstanding 80th Anniversary Edition arrive. Now — has it already been five years? — we’re back with an 85th. We received a small sample to put through its paces.
For this release, distiller Carlos Camarena joined forces with Jim Beam’s Fred Noe to age tequila in Booker’s Bourbon 30th Anniversary barrels, where they spent 36 months resting. That’s the bare minimum for the extra anejo designation.
Those casks are already up to 16 years old, so well-seasoned and, frankly, a little spent. The three year old tequila is just a pale gold in color, and there’s plenty of agave punch that clings to the nose. Peppery and still a touch green, the bourbon barrel plays second fiddle to a pungent, terroir-driven experience. That aside, it’s heady and immense, its character less vegetal and more earthy in composition. On the palate, the tequila feels much the same, driven foremost by pepper and green vegetation, followed up with baking spice, particularly cinnamon. That’s probably due more to the tequila than the barrel, with notes of lemon and lime peel both lingering late in the game, quite unusual for an extra anejo. Black pepper clings longest to the tongue, and while there are hints of vanilla-laced sweetness around the edges of this tequila, the bourbon influence never wholly materializes — and certainly provides nothing that would evoke the intensity of Booker’s 30th Anniversary, for better or for worse.
With all that said, it’s still a damn good tequila, provided you’re up for an experience that presents on the younger side.
85 proof. NOM 1139.