Category: Tequila Reviews

Suerte Tequila

I remember how excited I was when I tasted my first 100% agave tequila. Up until that point, I was like most people in that I had bad college experiences that kept me away from tequila. It wasn’t until a certain female (who I later married) encouraged me to give it another try that I realized just how good it could be.

After that first taste (at Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco) I went to Costco and bought every single brand and type of tequila they had, marking the start of a new obsession.

In those days, it was exciting because everything tasted so new and different. There were many brands, blancos, reposados, añejos, and I was overwhelmed with the amount of “learning” that was in front of me.

As I tasted more and more tequilas, I started to realize that many (but not all) tequilas tasted basically the same. I was able to identify an average, generic, basic tequila profile that was just simply OK. This profile can be found easily, especially in brands that tend to care more about marketing than tequila.

Tequilas makers that dare to be different by crafting their own unique flavor profile are the ones that have my respect and admiration. It takes guts to create something different. There are several out there, and one of them is Suerte Tequila, a relatively new brand whose name means “luck” in Spanish. With so many tequila brands flooding the marketplace, that seems like a very appropriate name (and I wish them a lot of it.)

There are a few things happening in their production process that make Suerte taste different than most. They roast their agaves in brick ovens instead of quickly steaming them in stainless steel autoclaves. They crush the cooked agave slowly using a tahona wheel (a large heavy stone wheel) instead of quickly in an industrial shredder. They also rest the blanco for 2 months in stainless steel tanks before it hits the bottle.

Most brands pump their blanco tequila through charcoal filters to mellow it out, but Suerte uses slow-moving gravity-fed hoses and micron filters because they want their blanco to retain as much of that original flavor profile as possible.

In other words, they are not rushing through the process.

Suerte smells and tastes different from other tequilas, and I find that really exciting. The blanco has a sour, citrusy and somewhat grassy aroma, and the flavor is rich with cooked agave. (See my tasting notes below.) The blanco was my favorite of their three expressions, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves over time and how they use this blanco to create truly exceptional aged varieties as well.

This brand is still very new to the market, and I fully expect it to find its place in the tequila world. The flavor profile they have today is a great start, and it will evolve over time like any truly artisanal product.

Keep your eyes on this brand, because with a little “suerte”, they’ll be able to claim their own unique place in the tequila landscape.

- Grover


About our ratings: We do not claim to be “tequila experts,” and the ratings numbers included in this review only indicate how well they match with our own personal preferences. We used the Tequila Matchmaker app, to calculate the ratings. A low score does not necessarily mean that the tequila is bad. In fact, if we feel there was something wrong or bad with a tequila, we would not spend the time it takes to review it as we’ve done here. Any tequila we review on our blog is worthy of your consideration.


Suerte Tequila Blanco

Suerte Tequila Blanco

Tasting notes:

Grover:
“I am a huge fan of tequilas that don’t smell and taste like every other tequila. (As long as it’s not a mistake.) This tequila has an interesting and unique aroma that is slightly cinnamon and grassy with a sour, citrus base. I like the smell, and the flavor is full bodied and tastes of cooked agave. This tequila is different. It is subtle, intentionally unique, and I appreciate that.”

Suerte Tequila Blanco Review Scores


Suerte Tequila Reposado

Suerte Tequila Reposado

Tasting notes:

Grover:
“Aromas of vanilla and celery, an interesting combo of 2 of my favorite things. It has a touch of Christmas spice on the nose and palate. The sourness of the blanco is still present but very slight. Smooth and creamy flavor, really nice dry finish.”

Suerte Tequila Reposado Review


Suerte Tequila Anejo

Suerte Tequila Añejo

Tasting notes:

Grover:
“The signature sour aroma found in the blanco and reposado are not present in the añejo (which is kind of a shame, because I was really enjoying that part of it). Butter and cinnamon on the nose make this variety appear to be from different blancos. (Since this is a new brand, it’s understandable that this could be the case.) The finish is very dry, spicy and a little rough in spots. Not a bad añejo, but it isn’t nearly as fun as the previous two.”

Suerte Tequila Anejo Ratings


Suerte Tequila is widely available in Colorado and New York City.

You can buy it online through DrinkUpNY (special sale prices listed): Suerte Tequila Blanco ($33.99), Suerte Tequila Reposado ($39.99); and Suerte Tequila Añejo ($63.99).

More information can be found on the Suerte Tequila website. Consider following them on Twitter and/or Facebook.

Have you tried Suerte yet? Please contribute your thoughts below.

don-weber-tequila-lineup

Scarlet and I were fortunate to review the full lineup of Don Weber tequilas. When we conduct reviews, we like to take our time, and will re-taste a tequila over and over again until we get a good feel for it. Over the course of about a month, we tasted the entire Don Weber lineup 4 different times, (and even blind-tasted their blanco one evening).

The Don Weber tequilas are produced in the Los Altos region (the “highlands”) of Jalisco, Mexico, at the same distillery (NOM 1414) as some tequilas we really like, including Gran Dovejo, ArteNOM, and Alderete.

Several things became obvious during our tasting:

• Tequilas made in the same distillery can (and often do) taste very different from each other
• Although Scarlet and I tend to enjoy many of the same tequilas, there are some exceptions, and that’s where things get interesting for us
• Tasting a tequila, forming an opinion about it, and then tasting it again blind is a really amazing exercise that we are going to repeat often

Don Weber begins by cooking their Los Altos agaves in traditional stone ovens. They are then double distilled in copper pots, producing a very worthy blanco. All of their aged products rest in white oak barrels; the reposado for 8 months; the añejo for 18 months; and the limited edition extra añejo for 3 years.

Interestingly, our ratings varied pretty greatly. We used our Tequila Matchmaker app to rate them, and the scores (and tasting notes) for each expression can be seen below.

One night, just for fun, I set up a blind tasting for Scarlet using 4 different blancos from 1414. Tequilas included were: Don Weber blanco; Gran Dovejo blanco; Alderete blanco; and Tequila Cabeza blanco.

All of them tasted different, and all of them (with the exception of Cabeza) were worthy of drinking straight. (To be fair, Tequila Cabeza was created by bartenders and is designed to be mixed into cocktails, where a stronger flavor profile is desirable.)

We are impressed with the quality and variety of tequilas that are coming out of NOM 1414, and hope we can visit this distillery soon.

About our ratings: We do not claim to be “tequila experts,” and the ratings numbers included in this review only indicate how well they match with our own personal preferences. We used the Tequila Matchmaker app, to calculate the ratings. A low score does not necessarily mean that the tequila is bad. In fact, if we feel there was something wrong or bad with a tequila, we would not spend the time it takes to review it as we’ve done here. Any tequila we review on our blog is worthy of your consideration.

Don Weber Blanco Tequila

Tequila Don Weber Blanco

Tasting notes:

Grover:
“This has a spicy, dry finish. Give it some time to open up. It has pleasing aromas of black pepper, cinnamon and slight mint. It has a pleasing warm finish that feels oily in your mouth. This is a solid blanco with character.”

Scarlet:
“This tequila has aromas of pepper, cinnamon, green apple and mint. It offers a spicy flavor with a slightly sweet, cinnamon finish. Pleasant and straightforward.”

(Note: If the liquid inside the bottle looks a little low, it is. The bottle arrived with a small crack in it, and some of the contents leaked out during shipping.)

Tequila Don Weber Blanco Review Scores

Don Weber Tequila Reposado

Tequila Don Weber Reposado

Tasting notes:

Grover:
“This has a creamy vanilla nose, and a spicy finish similar to the blanco. It has a moderately thick body that retains agave well, with a fair amount of sweetness. Little bits of cinnamon are evident as the dry finish lingers on your palate.”

Scarlet:
“Similar nose and flavor as the blanco, but it’s smoothed over with vanilla and caramel notes, making it sweeter and spicier.”

Don Weber Reposado Tequila Review

Don Weber Anejo Tequila

Tequila Don Weber Añejo

Tasting notes:

Grover:
“This tequila smells great. It has a very creamy vanilla, fruity peach, and caramelized sugar with a touch of grass in the aroma. If you are a fan of spicy tequilas, you will love the long dry woody finish. When the finish fades it leaves you with a mixture of vanilla and cooked agave.”

Scarlet:
“A little drier and less sweet than the repo, the anejo offers a hit of vanilla and baking spices with a quick finish.”
Don Weber Anejo Tequila Ratings

Don Weber Extra Anejo Tequila

Tequila Don Weber Extra Añejo

Tasting notes:

Grover:
“I actually enjoyed the Añejo version of Don Weber more than this. It’s a great value, for sure. [Under $60.] The spicy finish is intensified from the additional contact with wood, and I’m sure this flavor profile will be popular with fans of bold spicy experiences. There is a bit too much wood here for my tastes. The añejo is where this line seems to peak, and given the choice I would stick with that.”

Scarlet:
“The barrel adds some spiciness to this XA. Aromas of caramel, vanilla and chocolate create a pleasant nose, with a somewhat sweet, spicy burst of mouth flavor.”

Don Weber Extra Anejo Tequila Ratings

We found that the entire lineup is priced well, and is available for sale online through Hi-Time Wine Cellars. Don Weber Blanco ($34.99); Don Weber Reposado ($39.99); Don Weber Añejo ($44.99); and Don Weber Extra Añejo ($56.99).

More information about Tequila Don Weber can be found on their website. Consider following them on Twitter and/or Facebook.

Please contribute your thoughts to this review. What do you think?

- Grover

dulce-vida-tequila-horiz

Sometimes 40% alcohol (80-proof) just isn’t enough. I say this not because of any need to hurry up and get a fast buzz on, but rather that a quality tequila made at 100 proof (50% alcohol) can be more true to the real nature of tequila than one that is at the traditional 40% found in most stores.

In some cases, 100-proof (or above) tequilas are done for product positioning or marketing reasons. But this does not appear to be the case for Dulce Vida, a line of 100-proof organic tequilas that makes very effective use of that additional ten percent.

If you’ve ever been to a tequila distillery where they’ll let you walk right up and sample what’s coming directly out of the still, you may already know what I’m getting at. I was lucky enough to get this type of access at the distilleries that produce Casa Noble, Siete Leguas, and Fortaleza tequilas.

A blanco tequila that comes directly from the still can be anywhere from 50% to 70% alcohol, which is extremely “hot” and can be difficult to drink. But a very small amount in your mouth goes a long way. After the initial wave of alcohol fades, you are often left with an intensely pleasant burst of oily flavor that is sometimes fruity, sometimes vegetal, or sometimes earthy.

You usually can’t experience tequila like this with normal store-bought tequilas because just before bottling they are run through a charcoal and/or micro-fiber filters, and then water is added to bring the alcohol level back down to 40 percent.

I say “usually” because there actually is a way to experience this without making the journey to Jalisco and sweet-talking a master distiller. Dulce Vida Blanco is a 100-proof tequila that brings me right back to those stills. It is loaded with sweet and fruity aromas of cooked agave and a touch of citrus, and it coats the mouth with a nice, long, minty finish.

Dulce Vida tequila bottles

Tasting a reposado or añejo tequila that has come directly from a barrel is another rare treat for a tequila fan. After the blanco tequila goes from the still to a barrel, it is aged for anywhere from a few months to many years. As it ages, the amount of alcohol (usually) increases.

If you taste a quality tequila directly from a barrel, you will experience an initial wave of alcohol, and then intense aromas and flavors that have been introduced by the wood (common flavors would be butterscotch, nuts, coffee, chocolate, oak, vanilla, and caramel). The high level of alcohol seems to maximize the delivery of these flavors to your palette.

Richard Sorenson of Dulce Vida Tequila

I found the aged varieties of Dulce Vida to be very pleasant, making effective use of its 100-proof. Both the reposado and the añejo are aged for 12 months in used Makers Mark and Jim Beam whisky barrels. Once I let it rest in the glass a bit, the Dulce Vida Reposado had an aroma similar to that of cream soda. I experienced a wave of flavors, including nuts and cinnamon.

But as good as the reposado is, the añejo is even better. The tequila is aged for 24 months and it smells absolutely fantastic. It’s got a rich, thick taste, with a wave of subtle vanilla and a touch of spicy crispness, as well as a long, enjoyable, nutty finish. The cooked agave from the blanco is still there, greeting you like a familiar friend.

Sadly, for us, this tequila isn’t available in California yet. I hope this will change soon. Richard Sorenson, the founder of the brand, is based in Austin, Texas where the brand is plentiful. But you can also buy it online at The Party Source.

The entire Dulce Vida lineup gets a thumbs-up here in our house. Don’t let the 100-proof scare you. Just close your eyes and imagine you’re in a Mexican distillery, sampling right from the still or barrel. No airfare or passport needed.

– Grover

alquimia-tequila-review

In a tequila rut? We’ve been there. It’s easy to keep grabbing the same few bottles on your bar rather then splurge on a new tequila that you may or may not like.

Fortunately, we had the opportunity to go to some great tequila trade shows last Fall, where we sampled some impressive newcomers that would like to share with you.

(“Fall?!,” you say – we know, we’ve been busy getting the new version of the Tequila Matchmaker app out the door so please excuse the delay! By the way, what are you waiting for? Install the app, it’s free!)

One of the newer brands on the market that caught our attention was Tequila Alquimia. Alquimia is an organic tequila made in the highlands of Jalisco. I distinctly remember Grover pulling me aside at the Monterey Tequila & Mezcal Expo and saying, “You need to try their blanco!”

This was unusual because a good blanco can be very hard to find. It’s easier to make a good reposado or añejo since you can use the aging process to cover up any potential flaws in the blanco. But, to produce a high-quality blanco you have to hit it out of the park straight from the still.

alquimia-tequila-bottles

Needless to say, I was excited, and Grover’s recommendation wasn’t wrong. The Alquimia blanco offers pleasant aromas of lemongrass and citrus, with hints of cinnamon after it opens up. In the mouth it starts with the smooth citrus flavors and ends with a peppery finish. Delicious!

Their reposado, aged 6 months in white oak, is also tasty. It adds vanilla and buttery notes to the flavors of the blanco. The añejo is aged three years in white oak and I think I like it even more than the reposado. It brings with it not just more buttery wood notes, but also aromas of pitted fruits (plum!) which are incredibly pleasing.

Dr. Adolfo Murillo

We haven’t tried Alquimia’s 6-year extra añejo yet, but based on the quality and consistency of the rest of the lineup, we fully expect it will live up to our expectations.

And when you consider that Alquimia has been crafted out of pure passion by Dr. Adolfo Murillo, an optometrist from Oxnard, California, the quality of this lineup is even more impressive.

Murillo, a third-generation tequila maker, grows his own agave on his family ranch in Jalisco. He is an expert in organic growing methods, and has been growing agave this way for the past 18 years.

We can’t help but think that the special care and feeding that goes into his agaves is one of the main reasons why the entire lineup is outstanding.

If you’re looking for something new to try, and enjoy a spicy finish, think about Alquimia. It just might be the thing to get you out of a tequila rut!

- Scarlet

casamigos-tequila

George Clooney + tequila. Do we have your attention yet? The group behind the new Casamigos brand sure hopes so. They released a viral video campaign featuring Clooney, his girlfriend Stacy Keibler, Cindy Crawford, and her husband Rande Gerber, all falling into bed together after a night of drinking. (Clooney and Gerber are behind this brand.)

And the Casamigos website makes claims that caught our attention as well, including “The best tasting, smoothest tequila” and “a tequila that is smooth with no burn.”

So the question we wanted to answer was, “Is Casamigos worth all the hype?”

We initially learned that this tequila was coming to market several months ago, when a store clerk poured us a sample from an unmarked bottle he had stashed behind the counter. He told us it was George Clooney’s new tequila, and solicited our feedback. We couldn’t spend much time with it in the store, so we didn’t rush to judgement, but thought it was something that deserved examination in a better environment, using the proper glassware, and giving it plenty of time.

casamigos-NOMWhen we got home, we wanted to learn more about it, so the first thing we did was try to find out the NOM. The NOM is a four-digit number issued by the Mexican government to each legal entity that produces tequila. The NOM must appear on each bottle of tequila, and helps you identify the distillery where it is made. By looking for the NOM, we can start to figure out what a tequila may taste like based on where it was made. Casamigos is made at NOM 1416, which is the same distillery that makes well-known brands Avion (the “Entourage” tequila) and Clase Azul, among many others.

(By the way, if you want to have the ability to quickly look up a tequila and see what else is made in the same place, download the Tequila Matchmaker app for iOS and Android. It’s free and VERY useful. A lot of mass-produced brands that call themselves “artisanal” would rather you not have this information.)

The next thing we examined was price. BevMo in California is charging $45 for the blanco and $46 for the reposado, so it’s competing in a space where Fortaleza Blanco lives. The reposado is more expensive than another one of our favorites, Casa Noble Reposado, which retails for $43.

This price range set our expectations pretty damn high, so we picked up a couple bottles hoping for the best.

casamigos-tequila-bottles

The Blanco

Before the blanco opened up we got faint aromas of mint and green agave. After a few minutes, some cinnamon started to come through, but for the most part, the aroma wasn’t very prominent.

Upon visual examination, the tequila clung to the side of the glass like a nice, oily tequila should, but once it hit our mouths it didn’t quite measure up with what we were expecting. It is sweet and slightly watery and lacks the sophistication and complexity of a tequila that commands this price range.

Casamigos Blanco is a relatively simple tequila with mint and cinnamon flavors, and a finish that is remarkably short.

The Reposado

Casamigos Reposado brings all of the characteristics of the blanco, but with a heavy dose of caramel (which smells very good, by the way). It is aged 7 months in American Oak. It has a smoother mouth feel in the front, but has a slightly rougher (or ‘scratchy’) finish.

The Verdict

After spending a couple hours with Casamigos Tequila, we decided that although it was pleasant and sippable, it really didn’t live up to its price tag.

The question now is can its celebrity endorsements keep the brand afloat?

- Grover & Scarlet

Tapatio Blanco Tequila

We spent a few hours with Tapatio Blanco last night, and really started to get a nice feel for this tequila. We plan to do a full video-style review of it very soon, but there are a few things worth mentioning right away.

1) It’s selling pretty fast. I went down to Liquid Experience yesterday, and was told that they sold out of their first order (2 cases) in just 2 days. If I were you, I would get this tequila now, if you can.

2) At $29.99 for a 1 liter bottle, it’s VERY affordable. As a general rule, a tequila this inexpensive usually means its great for throwing in a margarita, but not for drinking it straight. Tapatio blanco breaks this rule. We drank it all night long and never got tired, bored, or fatigued.

3) You can buy it online at a few places, including D&M Liquors. I’ve been told that they have plenty of it (but who knows!)

4) My tasting notes from last night were entered into the Tequila Matchmaker app, are:

“I don’t think you can get a better tequila for the money than Tapatio blanco. With a nose full of black licorice, anise, and pepper, you will be eager to dive right in. The flavor is a minty fresh burst of agave – perfect for a true blanco lover. It is vibrant and fresh and easy to drink.”

5) If you’ve never tasted a “fresh” tequila before, try this one now. It was literally just bottled, and drinking it is almost like drinking it straight out of the still. It’s vibrant and bursting with flavor, which is something you don’t normally find unless you happen to be visiting a distillery in Mexico.

If you’ve tasted it, please share your feedback with us (we may even ready your comments in our video review.)

SALUD!

- Grover

Tapatio Blanco, 1 liter bottle, USA

Tapatio Blanco is available in the USA in a 1 liter bottle.

The Don Fulano brand of tequilas are created at the La Tequileña distillery (NOM 1146), which is located right in the center of the town of Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico. It has a very large aging room with a variety of different types of barrels, so maybe that’s part of the reason why the Don Fulano 5-year Añejo is so good.

[Disclaimer: My statement in the video that the 1146 aging room is the largest in "the world" may not be entirely accurate, but the place is giant, and is definitely one of the largest in the tequila industry.]

Although the label say’s it’s an “añejo”, it’s actually an “extra añejo” because it has been aged longer than 3 years. There’s something in the official tequila labeling rules that prevents brands from using the term “extra añejo” if they include the length of time it has been aged on the label. Weird and confusing? Yes, but let’s move on… :-)

The Don Fulano 5-year Añejo is aged in new French oak barrels, which is what gives it the bitter chocolate aromas we detected right away. It’s loaded with earthy notes (like peat), and honey.

The bitter chocolate lives on in the flavor, too, and it kind of creeps up on you as it opens up. The flavor is surprising because it isn’t what you would initially expect from the aroma. We experienced a sweet caramel flavor and a finish that was silky going down. There were also some spices, with a touch of anise; the flavor overall was very pleasant.

Grover’s Tasting Notes via the Tequila Matchmaker mobile app:

“This tequila has bright peat, cinnamon and earthy aromas, and a delightful almost fruity flavor. The finish seems to bring a few surprises as it delivers waves of delicious complexity. This is a real treat.”

This bottle retails for about $129., and we bought ours online. If you really like aged tequilas, you may be used to paying premium prices. As far as value for what you’re getting, this is certainly worth the money.

If you are into aged tequilas, this is a great one because it’s still holding onto its agave source, and delivers a surprisingly delicious taste.

Living in Mexico for 2 years, you would have thought we would have had ready access to every tequila ever created, but this is not the case. Although 100% of all tequila in the world is created in Mexico, the vast majority of it is made for export only. In the past 2 years several really great tequilas made their way to market, and we weren’t able to try them until now.

One such example is Excellia Tequila, a product created by two masters in the wine and spirits world, Jean-Sébastien Robicquet, founder of EWG Spirits & Wine, Carlos Camarena the maker of El Tesoro de Don Felipe and Tapatio tequilas.

What these two men have created is an example of master craftsmanship, creativity, and a fearless passion for innovation. The Excellia lineup has been a great “welcome home” for us.

The Excellia Blanco was our favorite of the three. It has a beautiful oily mouth feel, with aromas of citrus and vanilla. This tequila has been delicately rested for a few weeks in wine casks and cognac barrels, which is what gives it that slight hint of wood.

It has a very unique aroma, it tastes delicious, is smooth and silky, with a pleasant finish that lingers on for a while. You could easily drink this all night long and not get bored with it.

The Excellia Reposado (aged 9 months in wine casks and cognac barrels) is great right out of the bottle, but let it open up in the glass for a while, and it gets even better. Over time, we noticed that it developed beautiful floral aromas like violet and lavender, and even olive and leather. It has a nice spicy finish at the end.

The Excellia Añejo is aged longer than the reposado (18 months in wine casks and cognac barrels), so it naturally brings with it some additional wood properties – including some bitterness that many añejo drinkers love. It has some dried fruit and desert aromas as well. The finish was similar to a dry white wine, and is very warm and comforting.

This tequila has earned a permanent place on our bar at home. Give it a try and let us know if you feel the same way.

tequila-delivery-sm

Speedy delivery! This came in the mail today from Hi-Time Wine Cellars, all in one big heavy box! (We ordered it about 36 hours ago. These guys are fast.)

(From left to right) Don Fulano Imperial 5 year, 123 Reposado, 123 Añejo, Meloza Blanco/Reposado/Añejo, Excellia Añejo, Canicas Reposado, IXA Silver, and Revolucion 100-proof Silver.

We’re planning to review a few of these in the very near future – stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you’ve already tasted some (or all) of these tequilas, please let us know what you think. Leave us a comment!

Clayton Szczech of Experience Tequila is a frequent house guest of ours in Mexico City. On one recent visit we decided to put him to work – blind tasting three different expressions of Espolon reposado. (The old version in the original tall bottle; the new version commonly found in the USA; and a version that’s only found in Mexico that’s aged in bourbon barrels.)

Within the last few years, this well-known tequila brand has gone through some changes. The brand was purchased by Campari/Skyy, the bottle design was changed, and the tequila inside is slightly different.

So which is better? Watch the video to find out!

But I am pleased to say that after the blind taste test, Clayton and I agreed.

- Grover

Leopoldo Solis is the mastermind behind many well-respected tequilas. After our review of his most recent creation, Tequila Gran Dovejo, we were invited to meet Mr. Solis in person while he was traveling through Mexico City.

Solis is a “Master Tequilero,” and Casa Real, Campanario, Don Pilar, Real de Mexico, and Siembra Azul are some of his other creations.

We took the opportunity to interview Mr. Solis, and asked him what it’s like to be a Master Tequilero (a dream job for any tequila fan.) We also asked him to explain the difference between a tequila that is 38% alcohol (which is commonly found in Mexico) and that same tequila at 40% (found in the United States.)

When we asked Mr. Solis what someone needed to be a “Master Tequilero,” he didn’t hesitate with his reply – passion. This passion was evident off camera as well. While we were setting up the lights and camera, Mr. Solis was enthusiastically sharing his knowledge about how to properly taste tequila, from sipping and breathing techniques to experimenting with your own senses.

For example, he told us that since we are both right-handed, we should try looking to the right and down at the floor when smelling tequila aromas. Sure enough, we both detected stronger aromas on our right-hand sides than our left. (Apparently, if you’re left-handed the opposite is true.)

He also said that your senses will change if you’re looking up rather than down, even with your eyes closed. “Everything matters,” he said.

His attention to detail and sensorial elements can’t help but affect the quality of his tequilas.

A while back we did a review of a tequila with an odd name and a cool bottle: Alien blanco. We can still remember enjoying its gentle fruity aromas. So, when we heard that the brand was producing a new extra añejo, we were anxious to get our hands on it. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long – they sent us a bottle before it was even released to the general public.

(You can buy it at Liquid Experience in San Francisco: (415) 255-6718, and they will ship it upon request.)

Again, we loved the presentation of its iridescent alien-head shaped bottle, but don’t worry, this tequila has substance in addition to style.

The extra añejo is a pleasant surprise because it retains a nice agave nose that mixes well with butterscotch and vanilla aromas. The smell of it alone invites you to dive in for a taste. The taste does not disappoint either – it hasn’t gone too far in the aging process like some extra añejos, and it has a very nice mouth feel and a gentle finish with hints of agave and anise.

We always get excited about small brands that are doing it right, and it certainly seems like Alien tequila owner George Harris has done a good job at turning his passion into a quality product. We got a chance to speak with George when he was in Mexico City recently, meeting with his bottle maker. He dropped by our bar with his business partner Irma Aguirre, and we shared a few drinks, and of course, plenty of tequila talk.

Alien is distributed in a handful of states including, Nevada, Ohio, and Michigan, and they are looking to “abduct” people in more states soon.

If you get a chance to get your hands on a bottle, try it and enjoy.

-Scarlet

P.S. In the video, we forgot the name of George and Irma’s restaurant in Las Vegas (sorry!). It’s called “Mundo” and it’s worth a visit.

Alien Tequila owners, George and Irma with Grover

Alien Tequila partners, George (left) and Irma with Grover (right)

With so many new tequila brands making their way to the market, experienced tequila drinkers often look for clues that indicate if a particular brand is worthy of a try. Clues can take the form of a particular process or distillery, as well as the people behind the brand. For us, it means a lot when a new brand has a well-seasoned and reputable master distiller who carefully crafts the flavor profile, and watches over the process.

Fortunately, Gran Dovejo has just such a master distiller in Leopoldo Solis Tinoco. Solis also had a hand in Don Pilar and Siembra Azul, among other well-known tequilas. Based on this alone, we were anxious to give this tequila a try – and recently, we did.

Gran Dovejo is made in the highlands of Jalisco using many of our favorite techniques: the use of very ripe single-estate agave, cooked in clay ovens, distilled in copper pots, and created in small batches. (In other words even more “clues.”)

Its blanco has a strong agave nose with aromas of citrus, olive, and pepper. In the mouth it has a nice oiliness with a gentle, minty finish. The reposado has aromas of butter and vanilla, with an added touch of cinnamon to its flavor profile. The reposado is aged for 6 to 9 months in American oak barrels.

The añejo has intensified vanilla and oak flavors, as well as a lighter finish. It is aged up to 3 years, or whenever Solis says it’s ready. The entire line is balanced and pleasant, and it’s nice to see the continuation of aromas and flavors from blanco to añejo. There is a slight bit of astringency throughout the line, and it is most prominent in the añejo, but is not a deal killer.

One thing we like to do when tasting a tequila is to leave our tasting glasses out overnight so we can see how the aromas have changed or intensified after the alcohol has evaporated. During the tasting Grover said that he was picking up on a cherry aroma in the añejo, and the next day it was confirmed with a very strong cherry and cinnamon aromas in the near-empty glass.

If you are already a fan of Solis’ other products, we’re certain that Gran Dovejo will not disappoint you. If you’re not, we recommend that you give this one a try.

Does tequila taste different after it has been in a flask? We were asked that question recently, and decided to find out.

After doing some online research, we learned that there was no clear obvious answer – other than “it depends on the flask.” If the flask is cheap, and made of inferior metals, there’s a chance that it could affect the taste of the tequila inside it.

Right after we moved to Mexico City, we bought a cool-looking flask we found in a store near our apartment. Having never owned a flask before, I guess we just thought all were created equal, and didn’t worry about the details.

We reasoned that since tequila is stored at a distillery, often for long periods of time, in large stainless steel containers – that there shouldn’t be any effect on the taste as long as the flask is made from the same quality metal.

To get ready for our experiment, we loaded up the flask with a tequila that we know and love – one we are very familiar with – Fortaleza blanco. We let it sit in the flask for over a month.

As you can see by watching the video, the results were mixed. Scarlet and I weren’t able to detect any difference in aroma between tequila straight from the bottle and the same tequila from the flask.

When we tasted it, Scarlet didn’t notice much of a difference – but I felt there was some change to the finish. It became a little rougher late in the finish – something that’s not normally present in the super-smooth Fortaleza blanco.

I can only assume that our flask isn’t constructed with the best of metals. But even so, storing tequila in it for a fun night out will probably not show any difference in taste – even after a month in the flask, the change was barely detectable. (Especially by Scarlet, and everyone knows she has the tasting skills in the family.)

I just won’t be using it for long-term storage, that’s for sure.

– Grover

Because we’re living in Mexico City during a huge mezcal revival, we’ve tried very hard to like this traditional Mexican spirit. Not only are there three mezcalerias within a stone’s throw of our house, but there’s also something very interesting going on culturally with mezcal. Simply put – it is everywhere, while tequila is not.

Unfortunately, our trail of tears with mezcal (and mezcal lovers’ anger and disbelief) has been amply recorded on the site. What can we say? It’s just too smoky for us.

I was talking about this conundrum with my friend John Hecht, a veteran Mexico City reporter and mezcal lover himself who has watched the spirit gain steam in the city over the last five years.

“Maybe you should try a mezcal that’s just not that smoky,” he said. And then he said he might have the perfect one.

So, Grover and I went over to John’s house the other night to sample this special not-so-smoky mezcal. John got it from a well-known producer in Oaxaca.

The bottle had no label or name on it, because apparently you can go to most small mezcal producers in Oaxaca with an empty bottle and ask them to fill it with their special juice. Ahh, Mexico!

The mezcal in question was un-aged of a type called “tobaciche”, which means it is made from wild agaves. Some think that wild agaves produce a stronger agave flavor compared to cultured agaves.

(Still, we were concerned that even this highly recommended mezcal might be too smoky for us, so we brought a flask filled with Fortaleza blanco in case we found ourselves in a drinking emergency.)

John poured us each a shot (you can see the first taste, and my honest reaction on the video, above) and I had to admit that the smell was not as smoky as usual. Underneath I could detect some minerals and faint mint.

On the first sip I discovered it had a nice mouth feel with a tingly finish of mint.

Grover, who was busy behind the camera during the initial tasting, tried the mezcal when we finished filming. His opinion was similar to mine in that it was better than any other mezcal we’ve tried thus far, and did have something more to offer than just a high octane proof point and smoke. There were some agave flavors still detectable in this one.

“Tequila is like a nice clear and pleasant conversation where you can hear every word being said by the other person,” Grover said. “On the other hand, mezcal is like a trying to have a conversation in a loud and crowded party where there is a ton of activity going on, and it’s hard to hear any single voice.”

“Some say that mezcal is ‘more complex’, but I find it to be more confusing,” he said.

Would we rather sip on a nice tequila? The truthful answer is yes, but while out with friends drinking mezcal at least we found something we could appreciate, and that’s progress.

(And for the record: We’ve tried dozens of different mezcals since we’ve been living in Mexico. We’ve sought out the opinions of mezcal experts and have tasted what many mezcal fans considered “the best,” and in the end, we prefer tequila. It’s a personal choice, so mezcal lovers, don’t be offended. We just don’t like the smoke, and that’s why we don’t drink smoky whiskey either. Our experiment with mezcal has now reached its end, and (hopefully) you won’t see any more stories about mezcal on this blog. Viva tequila!)

- Scarlet

All around Mexico City, tucked among the usual tequila fare, we’ve seen a new contender – Alacrán tequila. The brand is based here, which explains its ubiquity, but it has been making its way far and wide, and we were curious to find out what was in its mysterious matte black bottle.

The brand only offers a blanco, so we picked up a bottle and eagerly opened its screw top. It has a mild alcohol aroma when you first pour it, but it opens up nicely over time. That’s when you start to smell its faint coconut, raw agave and butter aromas.

In the glass, its legs are thin and that plays out as a somewhat watery mouth feel. There isn’t a lot of oils in this tequila presumably because of the fast cooking process the makers chose by using a column still (also called a continuous still). Slow cooking retains more oils from the agave, and the oils carry aromas and flavors.

But the proof is in the mouth, and once we tried it we had a draw: I didn’t like it and Grover thought it was “okay.”

Alacrán, which means “scorpion” in Spanish, is made at the Tierra de Agaves distillery in Tequila, Jalisco, where they also make Luna Azul and La Certeza. They promote the brand as an “authentic” tequila for independent people.

Whether it is considered authentic or not, my real problem with the scorpion was its sting. It left me with a strange bitterness at the top of my palette/back of my throat that lingers unpleasantly. As it turns out, the sting was the one element that Grover didn’t mind, especially compared to the typical tequila found here in Mexico City. Go figure.

So, what you think?

-Scarlet

Kah tequila (reposado and blanco)

Kah tequila (reposado, left, and blanco).

Kah tequila has gotten a lot of attention for its seriously cool skull-shaped Day of the Dead bottles, but what about the juice?

While in LA, Grover picked up the Kah blanco and reposado and we sat down to look, literally, into the calaveras of this fairly new brand. If our suspicious minds thought this tequila was all about marketing, the blanco quickly erased the notion.

Kah tequila (reposado)

Kah tequila’s reposado is a powerful 110-proof mixture that is still surprisingly drinkable.

With a heavy herbal nose, and whiffs of white pepper and cooked agave, the blanco certainly doesn’t smell like a generic brand. Instead, it falls into the category of pungent herbal contenders. Now, I admit that grassy tequilas are not my personal preference, but some people really enjoy them so I proceeded with an open mind.

In the mouth it is surprisingly balanced, with a medium finish that hits you in the back of the throat. It has a lightweight mouth feel that’s pleasing, but in the glass it looks a bit watery.

Moving on to the heavy hitter – the 110-proof (!) reposado, which is aged 10 months in French oak. Now, the nose on this one is predictably strong, so we switched from a brandy snifter to a champagne flute to try to minimize the alcohol aromas and pick up on the more subtle flavors. When we did, we got nice butter, vanilla and cinnamon aromas, and the herbal elements were reduced.

Bracing ourselves for the burn, we took a sip. Surprisingly, this 110-proof juice is just as balanced as the blanco, and has good flavor, unlike many other high-proof tequilas. And the burn, while there is some, spikes and then fades rather quickly. This is a high-proof tequila that you could actually sip for a while, and enjoy. Not a wussy drink, for sure, but why would you want that?

Kah also makes an añejo, aged 2 years, and a limited-edition extra añejo, aged 4.5 years.

It is made at the Fabrica de Tequilas Finos distillery, in Tequila, where they also make El Diamante de Cielo, Agave 99, and Costco’s Kirkland brand tequila, among others.

The bottom line is that you may be attracted by the pretty bottles, but there is also a reason to crack those skulls open and give this tequila a try.

Kah tequila (blanco)

Kah tequila’s blanco bottle is white, with black hand-painted details.

Buying a tequila you’ve never tried before is always risky. Grover and I have come up short many times (remember Chaya? Ouch.) But while in San Francisco last week I couldn’t help but search for some new tequilas at one of my favorite local liquor stores, Cask.

Calle 23 tequila

Calle 23 reposado tequila.

Cask has a nice, well-edited selection and I came home with a brand I’d never seen before called Calle 23. The sales lady said that the tequila was created by a French scientist and the reposado was the most carefully crafted. Needless to say, I was intrigued! And, at $27 a bottle, the price was right.

Calle 23 tequila (reposado)

Calle 23 tequila (reposado) - to get the full flavor and aroma, we drank it from a brandy snifter.

I smuggled the bottle home to Mexico, hoping that after the first try it wouldn’t sit ignored on our bar like a redheaded stepchild. Grover and I finally cracked it the other night, and to my relief it was a pleasure.

It smells of cooked agave, light oak and hazelnuts. Its one flaw is that it carries an acetone note, but it is not overwhelming. It tastes better than it smells. In the mouth, it is light, but not watery and delivers a buttery mouth coating and a tingly finish that serves as a welcome reminder.

Aged eight months in old bourbon barrels, it is flavorful but not overly saturated with wood—just as a repo should be. The agaves are sourced from the Highlands of Jalisco, although the distillery is located in Guadalajara.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any other information as to the scientific crafting of this tequila, other than the fact that the brand owner is a biochemist. Calle 23′s tagline is “Tequila makes you smarter” and well, we couldn’t agree more, so If you work for Calle 23 please contact us and make us smarter about your tequila!

Now, I wish I had grabbed the blanco and añejo as well. For the price, this really is a good buy and an agreeable sipping companion.

You can buy it online at ForTequilaLovers.com.

-Scarlet

While the protests in Egypt remind us what a true revolution is—new, energizing, passion-driven— Tequila Revolucion seems the opposite. It doesn’t ignite our senses, nor does it hark back to the image of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, throwing back a bold, traditional tequila before riding out to seize hacienda land.

Tequila Revolucion: Blanco, Reposado, Anejo

Tequila Revolucion: Blanco, Reposado, Añejo

Instead, it’s just unremarkable, which is a shame considering the price point.

We recently sat down and sampled the blanco, reposado and anejo, which retail at about $40, $42, $50, respectively. They also offer a 100-proof blanco, and will soon have an extra añejo.

The blanco has a mild nose of citrus, herbs and raw agave that remind me of Siete Leguas blanco, but dialed down. Once in the mouth, it’s a bit watery. The taste is relatively unoffensive, but what you remember is a strange astringency at the back of your throat and top palate that lingers unpleasantly. Unfortunately, this is carried through the line, and is particularly strong in the reposado.

The repo is aged 10 months in white oak and carries light vanilla, honey and butterscotch aromas. It has a soft front, and then that annoying astringency that hangs around for minutes.

The añejo is an intensified version of the repo, but with less bite at the back. Still, it feels uneven in the mouth, as though it does not have enough oils for a pleasant mouth feel, even though it’s aged 18 months in white oak.

Cascahuin-tequila-distillery

A worker tends to the brick ovens inside of the Tequila Cascahuin distillery — where Tequila Revolucion is made.

Tequila Revolucion is made at NOM 1123, in distillery Tequila Cascahuin. This is a tiny, ancient place on the road to Tequila. Grover and I visited it on our first tequila tour and were surprised to find it was producing any modern juice. That said, Revolucion is modern. After all, it is going after the “smooth, premium” market. The problem is that it’s just too rough around the edges to win any devotees, let alone spark a revolution.

- Scarlet

Condesa DF

The front door to the Condesa DF, located in Colonial Condesa, Mexico City.

If you are a Mexican celebrity, a member of U2, or Paris Hilton, you know that the hip place to stay in Mexico City is the Condesa DF hotel. Nuzzled against Colonia Condesa’s Parque Espana, the Condesa DF features unique design elements, an impressive lobby bar, and a rooftop terrace/sushi restaurant with views of the city.

Condesa DF's house tequila

The Condesa DF's house tequila is a reposado, and it's taste is surprisingly good.

Grover and I stayed there a couple of times and were impressed with its cool tranquility. We also noticed that their bar has only a few tequilas in stock, but they do have a house tequila called – what else – Condesa DF Tequila.

We revisited the bar the other night to put a new critical eye to their house tequila. There was some confusion among the bartenders about how long the tequila had been aged (although it is labeled a reposado, one bartender said it was aged two and a half years.) I tried to explain that this was an impossible combination, and if it were aged that long it would be an añejo, but was met with a blank stare.

So, we cannot tell you how long this repo is aged, but we can say that it was a nice medium amber color implying that it spent a good bit of time in the barrel.

It has a light nose of vanilla, butter, and cooked agave. At first we feared the typical taste of a bland contract brand, but once it hit our mouths we changed or minds.

It is a little sweet with a medium oily mouth feel. The agave and light vanilla follow through on the taste, but then you get a nice bit of heat in the back of your throat followed by a floral finish of lavender. It’s not too floral, but very distinctive and pleasurable.

I’m convinced that female drinkers with a harsh recollection of tequila could be converted by this one. The floral might be a little much for the more macho drinkers, but it is pleasant overall.

Condesa DF Tequila is made at NOM 1477, in El Arenal, where tequila Ambar and 16 other brands are made. You can buy a bottle at the hotel for 395 pesos ($33 US) if you are so inclined. (We wanted to buy a bottle there on the spot, but they didn’t have any full bottles to sell us. We plan to go back soon and pick up a bottle for our home bar.)

The Condesa DF house tequila, con sangrita.

The Condesa DF house tequila, con sangrita.

Otherwise, stop by and sample a shot. The atmosphere can’t be beat, and their sangrita is good too.

-Scarlet

The bar, inside the Condesa DF.

The bar, inside the Condesa DF.