In 2009, we had our first taste of Gran Centenario Leyenda. At the time, we reported that it was the first tequila to carry the illustrious extra anejo designation reserved for tequilas barrel-aged for three years or longer. Apparently, there was some debate about that (with Mr. Cuervo) as Leyenda no longer claims that title. Whatever the case, Gran Centenario was surely one of the pioneers of the style, which has seen considerable growth as premiumization continues to take hold in the tequila category. Since our first encounter, Leyenda has traded in its original, overdone, Cognac-style bottle for the trendy, slender packaging of modern premium tequilas, but more has potentially changed for this one than just the duds. Time to revisit.
Chris was quite struck by this tequila’s color when he first reviewed it back in the aughts, and it remains one of the darker extra anejos I’ve encountered, with a beautiful, deep rose gold hue. On the nose, that color thankfully still doesn’t translate to an overly oaky profile. Quite the opposite. This tequila is bright and refreshing with loads of fresh spearmint and gentle menthol alongside sweet orange oil and juicy tangerine. Still, the barrel isn’t entirely absent as a creamy vanilla bean note ties everything together. On the palate, more cool vanilla notes, almost like ice cream, emerge with fruitier high tones of pulpy orange slice, lemon peel, and pink grapefruit. The agave is transformed into a rich, minty note, to the point of being almost undetectable. The finish is clean and crisp with gentle baking spice, caramel, and lingering muddled mint. I struggled a bit with the absence of a more vegetal agave element in this tequila, but it’s just too well-balanced and beautifully executed to let that interfere with my appreciation. Plus, the price has decreased considerably since our first encounter. A bargain in extra anejo… if there is such a thing.