Category: Tequila Reviews

David Yan conducting a tequila tasting at our house.

David Yan conducting a tequila tasting at our house.

We decided to celebrate Mexico’s bicentennial here in Guadalajara with good friends who were visiting from the States rather than go to the Spirits of Mexico (SOM) festival in San Diego this year. Although we would’ve loved to attend SOM, we managed to do a special tequila tasting at home, thanks to our friend David Yan, marketing director of Casa Noble in Mexico.

David gave me a rare bottle of five-year Casa Noble Añejo blend for my birthday. It’s a 12-year old ceramic “basketweave” bottle painted with 18 carat gold – a real beauty. We’ve been hoarding it our house since I received it, but we decided it was time to break it out.

For our tasting, David brought two other special tequilas along: a 2009 five-year Casa Noble Añejo (single barrel to compare with the older five-year añejo) and a 2010 bottle of single barrel reposado from the infamous “Barrel 60.” The repo was created for the 2010 Blue Agave tour members; it’s a bold 44% alcohol and there were only 42 bottles made. Lucky us!

Now, when I told our visiting friends that we were having a hardcore tequila tasting, they weren’t sure what to make of it. They are longtime tequila fans, but I don’t think they were prepared for the tequila geekness we unleashed.

In addition to the assortment of glasses, we had a plate of cheese and quince paste cubes (as a palate neutralizer), and of course our new Tequila Aroma Kit.

We dug into my birthday bottle first. It had a rich nose of light herba buena and apple cider spices. Once it hit my mouth it tasted of vanilla, departed by French white oak barrels, as well as earthy flavors. It also had a nice tingly finish that is sometimes missing in a well-aged tequila.

Casa Noble tequila bottles

The three bottles of tequila from Casa Noble that we tasted that night are, from left, a 2010 bottle of Casa Noble single barrel reposado, a 2009 five-year Casa Noble Añejo, and a 12-year old Casa Noble añejo in ceramic “basketweave” bottle.

Then we moved on to the newer five-year añejo. It was quite different than the first— it still had had the herbal aromas but without the mint. It was sweeter, with a bitter chocolate taste added to its base.

Both five-year añejos were excellent but my birthday bottle took the cake. I’m not always a fan of herbal tequilas but this one struck the right balance. It was rich with flavor but not too smoothed out by aging.

Finally, we tackled the single barrel reposado. It was packed with herbal and light wood flavors (thanks to the 50 weeks it spent in the barrel), and at 44% alcohol it left a nice light burn it. For a repo, this little baby really packed punch, but it wasn’t too much, in fact, it was just right.

All in all, it was a delicious and interesting tasting that highlighted the versatility of Casa Noble. We may have missed SOM, but considering that we got to enjoy fine tequilas with good friends during the bicentennial, we definitely kept with the spirit of Mexico.

-Scarlet

About a month ago, liquor stores in Guadalajara started prominently displaying a new innovation in tequila presentations – tequila in a can! Actually, a half can, like the new mini Cokes. Of course, we’ve already seen mixed drinks such as palomas in a (full-sized) can, but we’ve never seen straight 100% agave tequila artfully siphoned into an aluminum receptacle with a pop top for our drinking enjoyment. But this is just what the brand La Gavilana did, offering up its canned reposado for about $5 bucks. Needless to say, we had to give it a try.

I’ll be honest – I had my hesitations. Tinny tequila did not sound appetizing. However, the company’s website assured me that a can was the perfect presentation for this tequila because it was easy to chill, easy to transport and recyclable. It also said that this repo is aged 6 to 8 months in American Oak, and is not only double distilled, but filtered!

Despite these assurances, I felt that my evaluation would be tainted by the can factor so I asked my brother Matt Pruitt, who is a member of the punk rock band The Have Nots, to help me assess it. Perhaps it wouldn’t meet my standards, but what about the standards of a touring, hard drinking, hard partying punk who can’t afford to spend $60 (or $30) on a nice bottle of tequila. At 5 shots for $5, maybe it would suffice.

You can see us tasting it for the first time (and our honest reactions) in this video:

We popped the top and I pour the fizzy beverage into my brandy sifter. The color, of a light golden beer, or “piss” as Matt said, was not exactly pleasing. Also, it was very cloudy due to the fizz.

It had a raw agave, mineral nose. The taste was astringent, alcohol, and not much else since we served it ice cold, as recommended on the side of the can.

The verdict: a definite thumbs down from me, a “well, maybe, if I was really desperate,” from Matt, who will drink just about anything.

So, punks, there you have it. If you ever find yourself touring Mexico and need a cheap, easy, tinny tequila option, La Gavilana may be for you. Or not.

-Scarlet

Tequila Semental

Tequila Semental, blanco, reposado, and añejo.

A couple weeks ago we went back to the States and discovered that the tequila fairies had sent us the full line of Tequila Semental. They came in attractive bottles that feature a picture window of a fierce bull, suggesting that the tequila might be “fuerte,” with strong or astringent characteristics.

Then we read that the tequila is triple distilled so we scrapped the thought—a third distillation typically smooths the tequila significantly.

Apparently, “Semental” refers to bulls that are considered the strongest and bravest of their kind, and so are used for mating. Or, they are bulls considered so brave and skilled in the bullring that they are spared from death.

Would this tequila prove to live up to its bold name? We sat down with our friend Mark Alberto Holt and did some sampling.

We started with the blanco, which has vegetal aromas, as well as olive, lemon, raw agave and a bit of honey. In the mouth it lightly coats the tongue with similar flavors and has a small tingling finish with some white pepper notes.

The reposado increases in spice, dried fruit and sweetness. Aged just two month in white American Oak with a medium toast, it is gently touched by the wood and carries a light golden hue.

But our favorite of the three was the añejo, which brought caramel, chocolate and honey flavors. In fact, Mark said the strong honey characteristics reminded him of Casa Noble reposado.

Tequila Semental

Tequila Semental's full line - from above.

The añejo is aged just over a year in hybrid French and American oak, but is deep in amber color. This made us think they might have added a little additive color and flavor to the mix, but we can’t be sure.

Semental is made in the same Amatitan distillery as El Ultimo Agave, Tazon and La Piñata, among others. Priced at $39 for the blanco, $48 for the repo and $59 for the añejo, this has to be some of the distillery’s top-line product.

However, we jut didn’t think it could hold up to these price points. For $60 you could buy a damn good, distinctive añejo, and while the Semental was pleasant and easy to drink, it lacks unique character.

After all, it has to be a really, really special bull if it manages to win the adulation of the crowd and be spared from the sharp sword of the matador.

-Taste Tequila

Camarena Reposado tequila

Camarena Reposado tequila - retail price only $15.99.

When we heard that winemaking behemoth E. & J. Gallo was getting into the tequila business, our interest was piqued. How would Gallo — best known for its omnipresent, lower-priced tipples approach the over-crowded tequila market? Well, they started on the right foot when they aligned themselves with the Camarena family, which has been making tequila in the highlands of Jalisco for six generations. This gave their brand clout, and they took it one step further by naming their tequila Familia Camarena.

Then they came up with the brilliant idea of sending a Camarena taco truck around to various cities, offering free tacos infused with their tequila. They knew they couldn’t give out free liquor samples, but they could give away liquored up Mexican fare.

Grover and I were in Mexico when the taco truck was launched, so unfortunately we missed it. But, we did drive by two very prominent Camarena billboards on Interstate 80 while driving to and from Lake Tahoe the other weekend.

Grover expressed concern when he saw that the billboards spelled out 100% (as in 100% agave) using a shot of Camarena as a “1” and a salt shaker top and lime as the “0”s.

“Uh-oh, they are advertising this tequila as something you should pound? That’s not a good sign.” he said.

Soon, a BevMo (Beverages & More – Gallo does have a great distribution network) appeared on the horizon and we swerved off the highway to pick up a bottle.

Within minutes we stood in the tequila aisle of BevMo, gaping at the price of the Familia Camarena blanco and reposado – $15.99 for each!

“Wow! They are really aiming to dominate the low end!’ I said. In my mind, I had imagined they’d shoot for the competitive $20-$30 range. After all, their tequila is made in the Highlands (known for sweeter agave and better soil) and has the Camarena name behind it.

We grabbed a bottle of the reposado and took it home to try. It’s a nice, simple bottle and the repo is a light honey color. It’s aged just 60 days in American oak.

The reposado has a pleasing nose of raw apple, butter and vanilla, and does not have the telltale alcohol fumes of some lower-priced tequilas we’ve tried. The taste was an intensification of the nose – slightly sweet, but with a definite burn that ended up in strange places, such as between my upper palate and throat.

Bottom line – it wasn’t something I would sip on, but it wasn’t nearly as unbalanced and astringent as many bargain tequilas. Unfortunately, we did not have a chance to make a mixed drink with it, but I imagine that it would be suitable for a margarita or paloma. If you’ve used it as a mixer, let us know how it went. Otherwise, the salt and lime they advertise may be necessary.

-Taste Tequila

Dear Mezcal,

I don’t think we should see each other anymore.

I checked all the stats and did some research with the handy menu, but in the end, Mezcal just wasn't a match for me.

Don’t get me wrong — I had great time with you in Mexico City the other weekend, but I woke up the next morning feeling a little remorseful, and dehydrated. It was kind of like that night I had a fling with Absinthe in Barcelona. I woke up without a drop of water left in my body and the sensation that I had turned into a giant Kafkaesque bug — all stiff limbs and joints. But I digress…

As you know, Mezcal, I’ve been with Tequila for 14 years now, and I really do prefer Tequila. Although we have an open relationship (I’ve been known to runoff with Gin for the weekend), after spending time with others, I always end up finding myself coming back to Tequila, the passion renewed. Luckily, Tequila never judges me, and is always there when I need him the most.

I’m sorry. It’s not your fault. I’ll admit, when I met you in that hip little mezcalaria in Colonia Condesa you seemed exciting and new. They served you in a little one-ounce shot glass because, as we all know, you’re the “bad boy” of Mexican spirits. I remember when Tequila was a “bad boy,” too. But I could always detect his sweeter side when others couldn’t.

You’re stronger and tougher than a the types I usually go for, with a higher alcohol content than most tequilas. So, I probably shouldn’t have had three shots in a row. But you smelled great, like citrus and butter. In truth, it was your taste that killed it for me. That smoky, grab-me-by-the-throat and set-me-on-fire-taste just didn’t do it for me.

Even though they served you with fresh-cut oranges sprinkled with chili, and super salty pumpkin seeds (delicious!), they couldn’t totally mask your harsh personality.

Listen, Mezcal, it’s not you. It’s me. I prefer something a little smoother, and not so smoky—something that goes down easy and has a subtle, complex personality, rather than something that gives me a dull headache and makes me wonder, “What the hell happened last night?” I know you have girls, and boys, lined up around the block for you, but you’re just not my type.

Best of luck,
Scarlet

Tequileño Gran Reserva - our personal favorite - is a reposado aged 11 1/2 months - that's 2 weeks shy of becoming an añejo, and is one of the reasons that it's a super smooth reposado.

Tequila lovers in the U.S. should think about clearing some space on their bars this month because El Tequileño is bringing their excellent — and affordable — 100% agave line to the United States.

The brand has been a staple in the Mexican market for over 50 years, but they just recently created a line aimed for export: Platino blanco, Gran Reserva reposado and Especial 50 Aniversario añejo.

El Tequileño Platino is a well-rounded sipper with herbal and floral notes and a medium mouth-coating body sure to please many blanco lovers. (In fact, it was unanimously admired in a blind tasting in my recent tequila tasting course.)

The Gran Reserva reposado (my personal favorite) is a force to be reckoned with. Aged 11 and a half months, it is nearly an añejo and carries all the rich caramel and vanilla flavors you’d expect from a well aged tequila while still retaining the agave. Both the Platino and the Gran Reserva are viscous and linger pleasantly in the mouth. And, at $25 for the blanco and $30 for the repo, you can’t beat the price.

It’s been a while since I’ve tried the Especial 50 Aniversario, but I remember it as a smoothed out version of the Gran Reserva with a deep barrel color. It’s also a pleaser and went rather quickly at several tequila events we held. It’s priced at $40 a bottle.

We always have the Platino and Gran Reserva stocked on our bar in Mexico because they are great everyday tequilas that you don’t have to save for special occasions.

El Tequileño is also an interesting brand in that they put a lot of environmentally friendly efforts into the making of their tequila. The manufacturing process creates a large amount of waste water and they’ve come up with a way to deal with it. By taking the dry agave fibers from the process, they pump all of their wastewater into the fibers, and treat the mixture as compost. As the sun evaporates the water, the rest of the material stays with the fibers and creates excellent fertilizer. They then use those nutrient-rich pellets in their agave fields – and no production waste water is ever released into the agave landscape.

Grover recently visited their distillery, camera in-hand, and gives the lowdown on their process in our video review, filmed at the Qunita Don Jose Boutique Hotel in Tlaquepaque, Mexico:

So, if you’re looking for a tasty and affordable everyday tequila, give Tequileño a try and let us know what you think. Here’s a list of the states where the line while be available: CA, TX, NV, CO, TN, IL, GA, NC, SC, FL, MD, ID, IA, MI, WI, AL, MO, PA, and HI.

-Scarlet

The other day our good friend Mark Alberto Holt, creator of the SFT Tequila Bar in Sayulita, Mexico, stopped by with a very special gift. He had managed to obtain a rare and much-coveted bottle of El Tesoro de Don Felipe 70th Anniversario extra añejo. This baby is aged 7 years in American white oak bourbon barrels and only 2007 cases were made. The Camarena family released it in 2007 to celebrate 70 years of tequila making.

After hearing Mark talk about the special properties of this tequila—including the fact that it contains juice from especially sweet agave that survived a freeze—we just had to try it.

This tequila has a pleasant nose of sweet agave, vanilla and cherry with a distinct note of molasses. Once it hits the mouth it is soft and smooth with hints of cherry, and honey. The agave “bite” at the back is extremely subtle, making this a great choice for drinkers who prefer rich, subtle flavors over more traditional tequila qualities.

In short, this is a must have extra añejo, if you can find it. Thanks, Mark!

-Scarlet

For two full months I had been mentally preparing myself for Mark’s visit to our new apartment in Tlaquepaque. Mark Alberto Holt is the mastermind behind the SFT Tequila Bar in Sayulita, Mexico. He’s a great friend, and Scarlet and I were really excited to have him at our house for a few days.

In a previous entry, Mark and Gabbi Villarrubia mentioned that Don Fernando’s TKO tequila is the best tequila to drink when you’re hang out with your buddies, so I made sure we had a bottle in the house in plenty of time for his arrival.

It was a good call.

Don Fernando TKO Silver is a special edition double-distilled 100-proof, 100% agave tequila that comes in a red bottle shaped like a boxing glove. The 50% alcohol volume makes it a strong contender as a fun party guest. It’s a really nice tequila to drink because it’s got a slightly pleasant, spicy sensation to it, yet it feels smooth at the same time. Even though it’s got some really high alcohol content, it’s still easy to drink.

I thing the TKO is the perfect tequila to break out when you’re ready to have a fun night. The TKO gets things off to a great start – filling you with energy and enthusiasm, anxious to celebrate life’s adventures. In this respect, the TKO did not disappoint, and the night was a fun adventurous way to welcome Mark into town.

This tequila is made for men. It is certainly strong stuff, and if you’re not careful, you could end up getting drunk really fast. Scarlet decided to leave the TKO for us, while she happily sipped on Tequileño Reposado.

Mark and I ended up killed 3/4 of the bottle that night, thinking that we were just going to hang out in the apartment all night – talking and catching up. But plans changed when we got a text message from our friend Clayton:

“At the Quinta Don Jose with Guillermo Sauza”

WHAT! The maker of one of our favorite tequilas in the world is hanging out inside of one of our favorite hotels in the world?!

We dropped everything and ran over to the hotel, and there was a nice happy crowd sitting in the back courtyard of the hotel – right where Scarlet and I were married. This is like sentimental ground zero for us. There were bottles of Los Abuelos (It’s available under the “Fortaleza” brand in the USA) all over the table, and people were busy chatting and drinking.

Guillermo Sauza is a modern day tequila rock star with huge family roots in the tequila world. He does his own thing, his own way, and – like the tequila he produces – is 100% unique and authentic. There’s nobody like Guillermo, and there’s no tequila like Fortaleza.

Hanging out with him is always a pleasure, and hours can slip by without notice as you listen to his stories. He is a fifth-generation descendant of the Sauza family – a family that has done really great things for the tequila industry.

It was a very fun night, and a fantastic way to welcome Mark into town. We barely slept at all.

The next day, as we were exhausted laying on the couch talking about the night, we decided to flip on the video camera and record our conversation. It was most definitely a great evening, and it all started with good friends and a bottle of TKO.

- Grover

There’s something about Siete Leguas blanco that serious tequila drinkers really love. It has a pleasant nose of agave and earth aromas and the taste is strong and traditional, yet smooth. Many think it is what a blanco should be — it carries a true agave flavor, with a medium spicy finish at the back that is memorable.

So imagine our surprise when we visited the Corrido distillery last week and some people in our group started comparing Corrido blanco with Siete Leguas blanco. Corrido has its differences, for sure. The nose is a little more pungent and fruitier, but it too is packed with agave flavor. The Corrido coats your mouth in a more viscous way than Siete Leguas and is smoother overall.

There was an obvious moral dilemma going on with a few of members of our group — they absolutely loved Siete Leguas blanco but now they were thinking that they may have found something better. However, at the distillery it was hard to say because we only had the Corrido and our fuzzy memories of Siete Leguas. So, we decided that we would compare them at home head-to-head.

We asked fellow Corrido tour members Ryan Kelley, The Tequila Examiner, and Clayton Szczech of Experience Tequila, to sit down with a glass of each of the blancos and tell us which they liked best.

See them, sitting on our porch, tasting the two blancos in this video:

As they repeatedly smelled and tasted each blanco we could tell it was a tough challenge. But when they came to their final decisions, a new standard in blancos was made. The winner: newcomer Corrido blanco!

The love of long-time favorite Siete Leguas was still present, as they qualified their choices – saying both were  exceptional blancos and could actually be enjoyed together.

“It’s a meal,” Ryan said. “Start off with Siete Leguas and finish it up with the punch of the Corrido.”

So although Siete Leguas still has a warm place in our hearts, it just goes to show that with a variety of tequila is that exist today it’s possible to find a new favorite, even if you’re not looking for one.

(See our review of Corrido’s full line.)

-Taste Tequila

It’s unusual for us to visit a distillery that makes a brand of tequila we’ve never heard of before, that turns out to be a real must-have. But that’s exactly what happened last week when we visited the PRASA distillery, which makes both Sol de Mexico (which we already reviewed) and a new line called Corrido.

Corrido (which takes it name from the narrative ballads typical in Mexico) is a bright and crisp line of tequila with solid agave taste and spice that tails off at the back, in true traditional style. But it is also packed with subtle and well-balanced flavors.

The blanco tastes of slightly sweet agave, citrus and a hint of grass. It has been medium nose of earth and agave flavors that preps the mouth for a similar taste.

The reposado, aged a little over eight months, has a delicious, floral and fruity bouquet with a hint of butter. Just the smell of it is enough to make you fall for this tequila.

The añejo, which spent 18 months in a barrel, resembles the reposado but with intensified flavors of vanilla and caramel. They also make an extra añejo, which we did not get a chance to try, but can only imagine is a real pleasure.

(All aging times are approximate since workers at the plant try the tequila over and over again to determine when it tastes just right. “The tequila tells us when it is ready,” said Operations Director Cesar Gonzalez.)

The PRASA distillery is located in the highlands of Jalisco, where the soil is fertile and red and the temperature is slightly cooler than is in the lowlands. This is also where the company grows the agave it uses in its tequila. This may account for the brightness of Corrido’s agave flavor.

With Corrido, the company uses a single barrel process, meaning that the tequila rests in one barrel at a time and there is no mixing of barrels. Corrido reposado and añejo are first rested in old bourbon barrels and then are switched to old whiskey barrels, giving them a rich flavor base.

As good as the aged tequilas are, some in our group immediately fell in love with the blanco, noting that it shares some characteristics with Siete Leguas blanco, another crisp and traditional tequila favorite. (This is the inspiration for our next video – “A Tale of Two Blancos,” where Corrido and Siete Leguas go head-to-head. )

Corrido is just starting out but we think it carries a catchy tune. If you live in California or Arizona, look for it on the shelves — replete with a guitar pick tied at the neck of the bottle.

Corrido is a must-have for any tequila bar. It’s that good.

-Scarlet y Grover

Something about the Sol de Mexico bottles gripped our imaginations and we couldn’t wait to try the golden spirits inside. The bottles have an artisan feel that made us think that the tequila was produced using a traditional process that rendered a classic product.

When we finally got a chance to sample their contents we discovered that we weren’t far off. That’s probably because this line of tequila has been produced in Mexico for decades and has just recently come to the States.

The blanco tastes of slight vanilla, cucumber and spice with a flair of a finish that is common in traditional tequilas. The repo was an intensification of the blanco but with butterscotch flavor added to the front. The añejo takes it one step further with more caramel and a long peppery finished.

The most remarkable thing about this line is that the flavors connect and build as the tequila is aged to create a distinctive family.

Each tequila is full of flavor that stays with you long after you’ve swallowed. It would be interesting to see how they pair with food—the añejo with dessert and the repo with something savory.

As far as we know, Sol de Mexico is only available in Arizona and California (at BevMo and select other locations) at this time, but if you see it on the shelves give it a try. It makes for an interesting sip and will certainly give you and your friends something to talk about.

-Taste Tequila

People often ask us which tequilas they should pickup in Mexico that they can’t get here in the states. Of course, there are scores of tequilas that never make it across the border but we have a few Mexico-only favorites that we often recommend. And the good news is that at least two of our three favorites are due to come out in the states very soon.

We recently discovered a gem of a tequila called El Tequileño, which is reposado aged for close to one year (11 months and 2 weeks to be exact), giving it a rich, full-bodied flavor. It is extremely affordable considering it is of añejo quality. Given that it’s priced around $25, we crammed our luggage with several bottles the last time we went to Mexico.

Our next pick is Siete Leguas D’Antaño extra añejo. Many consider the Siete Leguas line as the cream of the crop of traditional Mexican tequilas. If you appreciate the clean agave kick of their blanco, you’ve got to taste how the line progresses all the way to the extra añejo.

Both El Tequileno and the D’Antaño are due out in the states soon. We will let you know as soon as they hit the shelves.

Finally, our last pick is Maestro Tequilero tequila añejo classico, a smooth and rich tequila that carries all the oaky flavors that you expect from an aged spirit.

So far, we’ve only seen this in duty free, although we suspect you might be able to get it in other retail outlets in Mexico. But even if you can’t, duty free is a quick and easy way to get your hands on it. (That’s where we got the bottle we’re showing in the video.)

So, if you’re going to Mexico or have a friend who’s going, you may want to send them this list. Otherwise, wait a little while and they just may come to you.

-Taste Tequila

Maybe you’ve been there—you’re out on the town with friends or you’re hosting a party and everyone looks to you to pick the tequila because you’re the “tequila expert.”

The problem is that you don’t know what everyone will like. They may or may not like what you like, or they may not have any experience with tequila at all so what you pick better be good or else it could turn them off on the spirit altogether.

Have no fear—we have a solution for you! Here’s our list of tried and tested tequila crowd pleasers. All of the tequilas mentioned in this video have a special place in our hearts and have won over even the most stubborn cosmo drinkers with their agave charms.

Drum roll, please … Our list of crowd pleasers includes the full line of tequilas from Dos Lunas, the full line from Partida, Cielo (again, blanco, repo and añejo) and Don Julio 1942. We honestly feel that you can’t go wrong with these choices.

You may have to ask a few questions to determine which type of tequila your friends will like best. For instance, do they prefer strong spirits or something smoother and mellower? If they enjoy a drink to pack a bit of a punch, a blanco might be a great choice, but if they like cognac and whiskeys, go with the añejos. For the best of both worlds, choose one of the reposados.

For something really special, go with the Don Julio 1942 extra añejo.

So go out there and order with confidence! These picks will assure your place as the “tequila expert.”

-Taste Tequila

It’s always nice to have an Extra Añejo around the house, for special occasions or to give to friends who don’t know how far tequila has come. As you may know, “extra añejos” are aged over 3 years and usually have a complex, cognac-like flavor.

We have been collecting some really nice extra añejos on our bar but we had never tried them back-to-back, so we decided to have an Extra Añejo Smackdown!

The contenders: Herradura’s Seleccion Suprema, Gran Centenarrio’s Leyenda, and Cabo Wabo’s Cabo Uno.

There wasn’t a clear “winner,” but a tie for first between Seleccion Suprema and Leyenda. Both are excellent choices but, according to Grover, depending on your company, you might want to bring out Leyenda as a sure-fire winner “for the ladies,” since it is smooth and refined and can be sipped pleasurably all evening.

We found the Cabo Uno to be very intense and spicy – something that you would drink before going out to a dance club or an active party, which is very in-line with their rock-and-roll image. Grover said that this tequila would be good for “a group of guys who wanted to go out and get into to some trouble.”

Seleccion Suprema, the most expensive of the three with a price tag around $350/bottle in the U.S., was smooth like the Leyenda, and had some hints of spice as well a flavorful back, like the Cabo Uno. We felt that the Seleccion Suprema would be a good tequila for an evenly mixed crowd of males and females looking to celebrate a special occasion, or to serve as a great dessert tequila.

A few days ago we got our hands on the full line of El Gran Jubileo tequilas and we sat down with them over a couple of nights to sip and see what we would discover.

What we found is that overall it is a smooth and consistent line that is pleasant to drink.

The blanco is distilled three times so it’s mellow to drink but still retains a crisp agave flavor with notes of citrus. The reposado was my personal favorite because it is just as smooth as the blanco but carries more spice, thanks the 10 months it spends in American white oak barrels.

Their añejo is actually an extra añejo since it is aged for five years in American white oak barrels with a slightly heavier char than the repo barrels. The añejo is full of caramel and vanilla flavors. It is a complex, cognac-like tequila that would please drinkers who are looking for that distinct, aged flavor.

The line is currently available in Texas and Florida but is coming to San Francisco soon. If you get a chance, pick up a bottle and invite a few friends over for a pleasant evening of conversation and smooth sipping.

-Scarlet

Just in time for Valentines Day we go back to our wise tequila experts from Sayulita, Mexico: Mark Alberto Holt, and Gabbi Villarrubia. We asked them which tequila would be their choice when the goal is to impress a woman. Of course, they have answers to this.

Mark’s choice was the Suave 35, a tequila that is made by Herradura – designed especially for women. It is relatively new, and may not be available in all areas of the United States yet. We actually had the opportunity to try this last year when we were visiting the Herradura distillery.

Scarlet, who herself is a lady, wasn’t impressed. Doh! Oh well.

Gabbi’s suggestion was La Cofradia. He said that his wife “fell in love” with it, and as such, makes is a great tequila for women.

Any woman who enjoys any tequila is A+ in my book.

– Grover

Click to VOTE

Vote for your favorite tequila website.

The other day, someone posted a link on Twitter to a list of “Top Tequila Sites,” and I got all excited. I immediately clicked on that link, hoping it would reveal a yet-to-be-discovered website (or two.)

When I got there, I was seriously disappointed. It was a crappy list, some sites had nothing to do with tequila at all, and the bulk of the sites were the product of a tequila brand’s marketing department. Useless!

So I decided that we should share OUR list of tequila sites. Which sites we consider to be the best. Fancy Flash-based animated sites with background music prepared by marketing firms on behalf of a big-name tequila brand do not qualify.

Instead, what makes our list – websites that are born and maintained out of passion and love for tequila. Websites that express an opinion, have a personality, and are free to say whatever they want.

These sites really DO exist, and we visit them nearly every day – and we’re not afraid to share them with you.

Take a look at our list and visit the sites mentioned. Then come back here and vote on which ones you like best. Let’s create a REAL list made by REAL tequila lovers!


 

The Top 10 Best Tequila Websites*

(*in no particular order)

1.) Tequila Gringo

TequilaGringo.comWe like this site because it’s totally real and down-to-earth. The site is full of very nice, short and effective reviews of many different tequila brands. It’s updated often and the Tequila Gringo’s opinions should be respected — he knows what he is talking about.
The site also has a unique navigation structure. It is quite useful, and we haven’t seen anything like it elsewhere. You can browse through reviews based on flavor (citrus, vanilla, caramel, spice, floral), in addition to the more standard categories (blancos, reposados, anejos, and liqueurs & cremes.)

If you’re a fan of tequila bottle art, the site has a section for that too. Bottles fit into categories like “modern,” “funky,” and “Mexican Classics.”

http://www.tequilagringo.com

2.) Ian Chadwick Forum

Ian Chadwick ForumActually, the full name is “The Blue Agave Forum” but we just call it “The Chadwick Forum” around our house. This is the online hangout for all of the hardcore super zen-master tequila freaks.

There is a huge amount of information here, and I find that once I am there, I can easily stay distracted for hours, reading about tequila in one message thread after another.

It’s a very active message board. Each time I think I’ve discovered something new or special, I’ll do a search on their message board and in almost all cases, someone has already been talking about it.

Some of my personal favorite threads are “Tequilas to avoid” and “Treasure hunting.”

http://www.ianchadwick.com/forum/index.php

3.) The Sayulita Tequila Journal

Sayulita Tequila JournalThis is the blog of Gabbi Villarrubia, and it is awesome. We love it. We were fortunate enough to hang out with Gabbi in Sayulita, Mexico, last November. Super nice, really smart, and loves to drink — especially tequila.

His blog is very well-written, with original content ideas, like “Patron vs. Cuervo” and “Mixtos, Bum Wines, Cheap booze and more drunk for your buck.”

Always entertaining, he’s the kind of guy that you just want to hang around with — and his blog definitely reflects that. Gabbi definitely knows tequila, and when we were in Sayulita, we hung out in the SFT Tequila Bar, talking about tequila for hours, while drinking tequila, of course.

If you can’t hang out with Gabbi (and Mark) in Sayulita, his blog is the next best thing to being there.

http://sayulitatequilajournal.com

4.) The Tequila Whisperer

The Tequila WhispererLIPPY! This is like going to a weekly online tequila party hosted by everyone’s tequila-buddy, Lippy. Tuning into his live show (Thursday nights, 7pm PST) is seriously like going to a party where tequila is the star.

Lippy loves to talk, loves to sing, loves to play air guitar, loves to listen to classic rock and roll, and loves to taste tequila. On his show, he gets to do all of these things at the same time.

When you tune in, you’ll see and hear Lippy, and be able to participate in a live chat with him (and the other viewers) through an integrated chat window that shares the screen. The chatter is very active and its obvious that his audience are mostly tequila experts. He even takes phone calls and has special guests “on the air.” Fun stuff.

He’s also a wealth of information and, like the name of his site suggests, he REALLY gets into his tastings. It is common for him to exhibit orgasm-like facial expressions when he tastes something REALLY good.

We highly recommend tuning in for his show. It makes for great Thursday-night entertainment, especially when you drink right along with him.

http://tequilawhisperer.com

5.) Ryan Kelley – Tequila Examiner

The Tequila ExaminerRyan Kelley is a freelance writer and bartender in San Diego who writes a tequila column for Examiner.com. If it has anything to do with tequila in the United States, then it’ll find its way to The Tequila Examiner.

We are impressed with the sheer volume of content that he produces. News about tequila, drink recipes, tequila events, bar and restaurant reviews – it’s all fair game.

Another useful section of his site are his series of “Tequila 101″ stories. Our favorites include:

Tequila 101: How do I drink a shot of tequila?

and then…

Tequila 101: How do I slam tequila?

and also…

Tequila 101: What is sangrita and how do I make it?

(His Sangrita recipe involves a cucumber! That’s interesting.)

Reading his stories is like having access to your own tequila bartender and news service, all in one.

http://wwww.examiner.com/x-14072-Tequila-Examiner

6.) PocoTequila.com

PocoTequila.comThis is a beautifully designed website that has a nice list of links to tequila brands, tequila retailers, and tequila websites. It also contains drink recipes (Margarita, Paloma, Tequilada, Mango Sol, and Playa Amor are some), and a fun little area dedicated to vintage tequila bottle labels.

It looks like the site is a labor of love, and work in progress because a few areas aren’t finished yet. I visit this site often, and as soon as I see the newsletter signup form on the site (it is “coming soon”) I will be adding my name to the list.

http://pocotequila.com

7.) TequilaAficionado.com

TequilaAficionado.comWe anxiously await the new, “Version 3″ of this website. Currently, it is under construction. We’ve been following the site in the past, and found it full of potential to really be powerhouse resource for tequila fans.

So, there’s not much to write about at the moment, but we’re looking forward to the day when the new-and-improved version comes to life. (Once it does, we will update this review.)

http://tequilaaficionado.com

8.) Tequila.net

Tequila.netThis is the Wikipedia of tequila websites. We use it constantly when we’re looking for the finer details of a particular tequila brand. The depth of the information available on this website is quite amazing, and I’m wondering where it all comes from!

From the site: “TEQUILA.net is an online community of Aficionados and consumers who enjoy the unique flavors and characteristics of Tequila, Mezcal, and other Spirits of Mexico.”

Tequila.net is one of the websites we visit most often because it is extremely useful. We’re grateful it exists, because it makes our job much easier.

http://www.tequila.net

9.) RanchoTequila.net

RanchoTequila.netThis is the personal blog of Drew Townson, a veteran rock/roots musician, guitarist, recording engineer, producer, freelance writer, pro-audio consultant. His website is all about tequila, and he is not afraid to share his opinions.

The title of one of his posts: “I Hate Don Julio Blanco With Every Fiber Of My Being!”

At the top of his blog, he’s got a picture of the full lineup of Siete Leguas tequilas, including the not-yet-available-in-the-states D’Antanio extra anejo. This right there tells me he’s got great taste in tequila.

“There’s nothing better than good tequila, and there’s nothing worse than bad tequila,” Drew Townson says on his blog. We have to agree.

http://ranchotequila.blogspot.com

10.) TasteTequila.com

TasteTequila.comAnd finally, there’s us. We’re inspired by all of these other sites, and I hope that shines through.

Each website on this list has its own personality, which brings something unique and special to the table.

Our approach is that drinking tequila should be fun. It should add good things to life, and should be part the celebration of live. We hope our website is an extension of this view.

Note: As we were constructing this post, the poll (which is being hosted on the PollDaddy system) was discovered, and people started linking to it before we could get this post finished. Oh well.  We weren’t attempting to be sneaky or self-serving at all. Consider this a lesson learned. Do the poll LAST in the process!

Salud!

– Grover

We really love to taste tequila. So when we spot something on a menu or at a bar that we’ve never tried before, we get excited, and can’t wait to give it a try. Sometimes you find a great new tequila that’s destined to become a regular go-to bottle, and sometimes you don’t.

Don Modesto is a new tequila. We learned about it a few months ago through the TasteTequila Facebook page. It was founded in February, 2009 by Carmelo J. Ayala IV, and it will be available for sale in New Jersey this April. In May, people in Illinois will be able to find it in retail stores. Florida and New York are currently scheduled for June/July.

Their full line of tequila (blanco, reposado, and añejo) came in the mail the other day, and we didn’t waste any time. Within a few days we cracked open the bottles, which are hand-blown in Tonala, Mexico, and gave it a taste.

We actually enjoyed the whole line, but of them all, we thought the blanco was the best.

The blanco smells really delicious, with a very pleasant agave scent with a bit of fruit. There was a little bit of bite in the back, but not too much.

The reposado is aged 7 months, and has a vanilla nose. We felt it was smooth, yet contained a bit of spice – nicely done. It’s not over-aged, and contains all of the properties of a well balanced reposado with the agave flavor still present.

The añejo, aged 14 months, has more caramel added to the nose, and it retains all of the spice that the reposado has. The reposado and the añejo both have their own individual personalities, yet you can really taste that they came from the same family.

The only negative we found was that it’s not yet available in California. Hurry up guys!

-Taste Tequila

The cool folks at PaQuí actually sent us a bottle of their Silvera tequila in the mail, so we happily gave it a try. Our first impression: great bottle! Up until this point, we had never heard of this tequila – but since we love to try new things, especially tequila, we gave it a go.

The taste is spicy and fruity, but consistent and smooth, and overall very pleasant. It is made in small batches in the town of Tequila and there is also a reposado and an añejo in this line. I would definitely recommend that people give the Silvera a try. In the video you can see me searching for a good time/place to pull this out, and what popped into my head was “hanging out with the guys.” Scarlet also thought the Silvera would make a mean base for a margarita.

It’s a really flavorful, spicy tequila that retains its agave core, yet brings its own character to the table. We gave it a thumbs-up.

– Grover

We love tequila, but not all tequila. Case in point: Chaya Añejo. Both Scarlet and I found it rather unpleasant, although the bottle has a cool design. Unfortunately, a unique bottle doesn’t correct its unpleasant taste.

(This video of us tasting it should speak for itself.)

Chaya Añejo is said to have “earthy tones,” and I suppose that’s true. We smelled and tasted “cut grass” and “peat moss,” and not any agave at all. Honestly, we don’t want those kinds of tastes in our tequila.

We must assume that there are people in the world that like this stuff for the simple fact that BevMo makes it available on their store shelves. The bottle caught my attention, so I thought I would bring it home to Scarlet as a gift, since neither of us had ever tried it. I would love to hear from people who like this stuff – so leave a comment on this post if you do.

But, as for us, we won’t be buying this again.

– Grover