Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Rise of Premium Tequilas

Each week, I am responsible for putting together our liquor order. This past week, I placed an order for Cuervo 1800 and I thought, "Wow, it has been forever since I've had to order this stuff!"

Back 12 years ago when I took over this job, it seemed as if every other week we would be ordering Cuervo 1800 tequila. The name had somewhat become the tequila of choice... you would never order a well tequila, it was always 1800. Over the course of the last few years, the times have changed and so have the palates of tequila drinkers. No more are the days of "one tequila, two tequila, three..."  Or maybe its just me, as I am no longer a young college student.

Nowadays, these spirits are ordered for their quality. Like many bourbons, some of these super premium tequilas are now enjoyed in a snifter or neat in order for the aroma and flavor to develop. Sipping is in; shooting shots are out for this Mexican spirit.

Tequila has a long history dating back a few thousand years ago in Mexico. True tequila must come from Mexico. In fact, the Mexican government owns the moniker "tequila," and if you want to use it, you need permission from the Mexican government.

Although the traditional margarita is what made tequila popular, the spirit itself has excellent flavors when enjoyed by itself. In order to be called a tequila, it must be made from 51% or more of the blue agave plant. Tequila is made by distilling the fermented juices of a 10-year-old blue agave plant with water. The "really good stuff" is made from 100% blue agave, and this is what people nowadays are looking for. The law states that all 100% agave be produced, bottled and inspected in Mexico. Anything other than 100% is referred to as a mixto and these are what people may say are inferior in quality. You often find these as mixers in your liquor store. True tequila drinkers want pure agave tequila.

You may have seen all kinds of terms when referring to tequila. Silver, blanco, anejo, reposado.....these refer to how and how long it has been aged.

Silver or Blanco is the clear spirit. This tequila is in stainless steel tanks with at most 60 days of age. If you're a connoussuer, probably not what you are looking for.

Gold tequila is unaged silver tequila that is colored and flavored with caramel. These are for those college kids looking to order up shots with friends.

Reposado or "rested" refers to the aging in wood casks for a mininimum of 2 months with most being aged at least 6-9 months. This is the start of a good sipping tequila.

Anejo or "old" tequila is aged in oak barrels (often French or American bourbon) for a minimum of 1 year. This is what gives it the dark color and robost flavors. You will find the best characteristics with one that is aged 18 months to 3 years. These are best served in a snifter to enjoy its wonderful aroma.

With a little bit of background on what these all mean, come give one a try next time you are in. Skip the commercialized Jose Cuervo and choose from our selection of Casadores, Corralejo, Corazon, Don Julio, El Mayor, Hornitos or Patron. Start with a reposado and move up to a snifter of anejo.

What do you think about us offering a tequila sampler? Would anyone be interested in a small sampling of a few we offer? Kind of like our American bourbon sampler?

After hearing about all this talk about tequila, do you still have nightmares of the morning after? Well, these premium 100% blue agave tequila contain some of the lowest amounts of methanol of any alcohol. This methanol is of the hangover inducing compounds found in all alcohol. Expand your palates, try something new. It may be your new drink of choice!

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