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.