¡Hola Los Amantes Tequila!
In the search for warmer weather, Mexico is looking pretty good to us right now. Yet, due to a pesky logistics problem, namely distance, we can only gaze southward with longing desire.
So, raise a glass to our amigos in the state of Jalisco (where the city of Tequila resides) and let us ask for a warm embrace — courtesy of the blue agave-based nectar that has become synonymous with our friends south of the Rio Grande — and go loco for tequila.
Not unlike a famous Kentucky export that is close to our hearts, tequila is more than just a type of liquor. Its name is safeguarded by the Mexican government (like champagne is to the French), which states that tequila may only be produced in the state of Jalisco and limited regions of four surrounding states — and has threatened legal action against manufacturers outside that geography (because that’s a priority for the government).
Not surprisingly, all tequilas are not equal. Without getting too complicated — lest we confuse ourselves — there are four categories of tequila. Here’s our RT 101:
• Silver, or Blanco, with little or no aging beyond 60 days in stainless steel tanks, is suited best for mixed or blended drinks;
• Gold, which is just silver with added caramel color and flavor;
• Reposado (“rested,” en Espanol), which is aged in wooded casks for a minimum of two months, is the juice the locals pick. Better-quality brands are aged up to nine months;
• Anejo (“old”) is tequila aged for a minimum of one year in wooden casks. The highest-quality anejos are aged between 18 months up to three or four years, depending on the type of tequila it is (told you it can get complicated).
With that, let’s take a look-see in the cabinet and see what brands we recommend for those with a penchant for salt, lime and pickled worms!
Clear with a nickel cast, or so we’re told. Our tequila expert noted “lush aromas of freshly tanned suede, saddle soap, olive skin and dried cherries.” Sounds like an animal hide to us, but we have been assured those attributes are all good things for tequila. At $20 a bottle, our expert also says this is a best buy. Ole!
Olmeca Tequila Gold $24
Its pale gold color glints like the light of 1,000 suns, or not, but poetic prose is always nice. The expert opines, “Key lime pie and caramel aromas herald a silky entry lead to a dryish light-to-medium body of coconut cream and key lime pie flavors with a touch of grilled pepper, escarole and spice.” We assume this is all relevant to tequila fans because the one thing that made sense to us is when he suggested, “This is shot worthy — and a solid choice for margaritas.” That, we understand!
El Gran Jubileo Reposado Tequila $34.99
This mid-priced tequila we sampled, too. While not prepared to make tequila our signature beverage, we agreed with the expert when he described the aroma as “lavish honeycomb, spicy fruitcake and powdery anise cookie.” Truthfully, we didn’t feel it our place to argue. But it was kinda sweet and spicy — like a Mexican mariachi band on the tongue.
It’s like a sundae with a sombrero! Our tequila expert says, “It’s like sweet hot chocolate with whipped cream aromas with a mildly sweet, medium-full body — with hints of pineapple and coconut pudding.” Really? Sounds a bit much, but perhaps he’s right. To us, it tastes like a Hershey bar that fell off the wagon. But, it should be a hoot for making cocktails.
Agave 99 Anejo Kosher Tequila $82.99
Perfect for Passover! This tequila is aged for at least two years in American oak barrels, is triple distilled and triple filtered — and is certified by the OU (Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America) as kosher for Passover. Certainly not cheap, and you’ll have to special-order it, but how often can you say “Hey, Elijah — wanna slam a shot?”