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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

August 22, 2013


Malternatives, eighteen tequilas anejo

I know, I know. Actually, I had planned to publish these tasting notes in four chunks but as I wasn't too pleased with the results, I've decided to publish everything in one go. Whisky geeks may prefer this anyway ;-). Please note that all these little añejo have not been tasted during the same session, I've actually done four different sessions on four different days. Also remember that it's all done from a whisky lover's point of vue, tequila freaks may have come up with very different notes and comments. Good luck!


Tequila anejo, session one

We’ll have a few añejo tequilas @38% vol. today. That way, no spirit will be ‘better’ because it’s ‘bigger’. Or rather more powerful. I have no idea how to sort these babies, I think we’ll use their prices in the UK (at Master of Malts). Of course that’ll be in an ascending order, let’s see if more expensive means better, at is certainly not always the case with Scotch whisky. By the way, my indications regarding the ages are pure guesses as not two websites seem to agree on those. Bah, they’re all NAS anyway and are probably younger than 3, as otherwise they would be labelled as ‘extra- añejo’.

1800 Añejo (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

1800 Añejo (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Two stars This one’s mostly aged in French barrels for around one year. It’s 100% blue agave and it seems that it’s a brand by José Cuervo (i.e. still the Beckmann family, a deal with that fine little company called Diageo having failed last year). Colour: gold. Nose: starts very aromatic, almost explosive, easy, sexy… There’s this huge kind of soapiness (lavender and juniper) that’s typically ‘tequila’ as well as a smooth oakiness, with quite some vanilla. I also find touches of melons and peaches. So yes, it’s easy and it’s very pleasant. After ten minutes: more earthy tones, which is great news. Mouth: nice enough but a little indistinct, blending honeyed and grassy/salty notes in a slightly bizarre way. What I enjoy is all this lemon and grapefruit that make it more lively despite the low strength. Sadly, it becomes weakish after just a few minutes. Perfumy as well (lavender). Finish: short, soapier, with more lavender. The lemon’s gone. Comments: fine, but I seem to prefer them grassier and closer to the agave. Nowhere near the excellent Arette that we had on July 3, but that one was much older. SGP:451 - around 75 points.

Jose Cuervo Gran Centenario Anejo (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

Jose Cuervo Gran Centenario Anejo (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Two stars Blue agave again, aged for one year and a half this time, in American oak instead of French oak. Should be even smoother, shouldn’t it? Cuervo is the largest tequila brand. Colour: straw. Nose: suffers a bit after the 1800 since it’s rather grassier, more toasted as well, with more, well, toasted bread and rather less agave-y notes. Also rather more notes of vegetables, gherkins, capers, olives… Which is all nice I have to say. So it’s the largest brand, but this tequila’s rather less ‘commercial’ in my opinion. After ten minutes: gets really briny and sour! Mouth: nah, this isn’t much more to my liking than the 1800 on the palate. Lacks definition, I’d say, there’s a molassy feeling and some bitter touches that don’t mingle well with that. The saltiness is pleasant, though. Just fine. Finish: a little short but rather more agave-y. Comments: I liked Jose Cuervo’s ‘Reserva de la Familia’ much better! SGP:360 - around 75 points.

Sauza 'Tres Generaciones Añejo' (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

Sauza 'Tres Generaciones Añejo' (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Aged for 12 months in American oak. It’s a very large brand by Jim Beam, it’s seems that it’s #2 in the world. Colour: pale straw. Nose: this one’s even less aromatic, and it’s rather soapier than both the 1800 and the Cuervo. I mean real soap, not agave. Nice touches of green olives, though, always good news. After ten minutes: not much development but the olives stayed there, hurray. The soap as well, booh. Mouth: this soapiness is always there, while the briny part got bigger, but without much precision, it’s all kind of jumbled. Some vanilla and maple syrup coming out after a few minutes but that doesn’t help. It’s okayish, I’d say. Finish: short, salty. A feeling of capers again, maybe a little smoke in the aftertaste. Comments: certainly good, and I know a kind of soapiness is an asset to tequila, but I feel it’s excessive here. SGP:270 - around 65 points.

7 Leguas Añejo (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

7 Leguas Añejo (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Four stars Under the Scotch Whisky Regulations, it would be forbidden to put a large '7' like this, which, of course, suggests this is 7 years old while it's only one year and a half. Having said that, Siete (7) Leguas were the original makers of Patron and still seem to grind the agaves using stone wheels. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it’s the most agave-y so far, and the cleanest/purest as well. It’s actually a little closer to a Reposado in style (less than 1 year) and it’s also hinting at some great gin. I also enjoy this wee smokiness. Excuse me, a pequeña smokiness. Also white peaches, perhaps, and… gentian? Lovely nose. After ten minutes: more gentian. Mouth: ah yes this is a whole different league. Bigger, fatter, more flavourful, more agave-y, more lemony, more earthy and rooty… This is great! It’s a perfect example of tequila for malt lover, I’d say. It’s even a little waxy, which says a lot. Finish: long, with bags of olives both black and green. Maybe even kippers, imagine! An ‘Islay’ tequila. Comments: impressive distillate, very clean yet complex and characterful. My favourite so far and by far. SGP:281 - around 85 points.

Don Julio 1942 (38%, tequila, añejo, +/-2013)

  Don Julio 1942 (38%, tequila, añejo, +/-2013) Two stars and a half Sure no drinker of medium intelligence will ever believe 1942 is this tequila’s vintage, but still, using such marginally likely years is dodgy. You cannot do that in Scotland either – I mean, you cannot write such years in big bold letters anymore. Not even 1824! What’s more, Diageo seem to be involved in Don Julio. Colour: white wine. Nose: oh no, this is much sweeter, more sugary, less grassy than the others. There’s much more vanilla (and yet the colour’s pale) as well as quite some honey. Even tinned pineapple and white chocolate. So the smoothest and the easiest of them all. Interesting to find all these huge differences, so tequilas are not all the same, after all? (just joking). I have to say this one grows on me once the sugary smells are gone. It’s complex, fruitier, more tropical tequila. Mouth: well, it’s a little too sweet after the 7 Leguas, there’s too much custard and maple syrup, vanilla cream, even fudge, coconut oil… I have no proof but some newish American oak must have been involved here, it’s probably great tequila (it’s certainly luxury, ahem) but it’s rather more oak-driven than spirit-driven. Not obligatorily a bad thing but I like the sharper styles much better. Finish: short, rounded, but the agaves have their say now. Comments: so it’s a creamier and sweeter tequila. Not quite my taste but I’m sure it’s technically perfect. SGP:460 - around 78 points.

WAIT! While we’re tasting Mexican spirits at 38% vol. we could as well have a little bonus. An añejo sotol! But what is sotol? Frankly, only one moth ago, I had no ideas. I would have told you it’s a blend of Motul and Veedol or something like that. Actually, it’s a spirit made in Chihuahua out of desert spoon and should be quite close to mescal. Desert spoon is a plant that… oh well, google is your friend!

Hacienda de Chihuahua Oro Puro Añejo (38%, OB, Sotol, +/-2012)

Hacienda de Chihuahua Oro Puro Añejo (38%, OB, Sotol, +/-2012) Three stars Nice name, don’t you think? This one comes with gold flakes in the bottle, like more and more 'innovative' spirits and liqueurs do these days. Innovative? You bet, my grandpa’s old love the Danziger Goldwasser used to have that fifty years ago and probably way before that. Besides, all that glitters isn’t gold, so let’s see… Blow, trumpets, this is my first sotol! Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s not unlike some buttery mezcal, I’d say. It’s a little burnt as well, bizarrely toasted and roasted, with little clear hint at some specific raw materials (I agree, that’s rarely the case with whisky anyway, and I’m no expert in... what again? Ah yes, desert spoon aka sotol). Having said that, I enjoy the olive-y touches, like in some of the tequilas we just had. There’s a feeling of sugarcane as well, in fact we’re somewhere between mezcal/tequila and rhum agricole. Interesting. Mouth: but this is quite good! It’s a rather fat spirit, creamy, that starts on both fruity (papayas?) and grassy, olive-y, briny/salty notes. There’s quite some lemon oil too and all that ends up with a… mojito! Just with less mint than in a regular mojito. Finish: rather long, always on a rather dry mojito. Say a mojito with green olives instead of mint leaves. Comments: a very good surprise, my first sotol was a very good one, I hope I’ll find more. As for the gold flakes, I don’t think they brought much flavours. SGP:471 - around 80 points.


Tequila anejo, session two

Amate Añejo (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

Amate Añejo (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Two stars and a half 100% blue agave, made by the same people who make Casa Noble (which I enjoy). It was matured in ex-bourbon barrels. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a clean, slightly perfumy one, with some vanilla right from the start. A lot of custard and a little café latte, then a little melon, perhaps. It’s all very light and not extremely ‘agavey’. Vanilla fudge. Also hints of roasting coffee beans (torrefaction). Mouth: the creamy vanilla is back on the palate, this is very smooth and easy, certainly well made. There’s quite some white chocolate, a touch of crème de menthe, then a little grapefruit and salt but it all remains very smooth and extremely easy. Finish: pretty short, smooth, easy, creamy. A little sugar cane and pepper in the aftertaste, nothing too big. Comments: it’s an extremely easy tequila, the bourbon wood really shows. There was much less grassiness than in most other tequilas I could try. SGP:440 - around 78 points.

Casa Vieja Añejo (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

Casa Vieja Añejo (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Two stars and a half 100% blue agave and kosher, it seems. Colour: straw. Nose: this is very different, this time it’s more an almondy side that’s striking first, there’s also more agave as well as a little chocolate. So slightly rougher than the Amate but also a little more spirit-driven, I’d say. Does that come from less active oak? I must say I like it. Mouth: well, it’s a rawer, rougher tequila than the Amate, maybe more ‘natural’ but rather less clean and immediately enjoyable. Having said that it’s rather more interesting, and I like these oranges and the touches of williams pears. Finish: medium length, with some honey coming through as well as a grassier aftertaste. Comments: more oomph this time, but less clean smoothness. Same score, I’d say. Certainly a good tequila but nothing to write home about. SGP:350 - around 78 points.

Cazadores Añejo (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

Cazadores Añejo (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Probably 100% blue agave, and probably from the Highlands (Los Altos) just like the others. Colour: straw. Nose: much less interesting than both the Amate and the Casa Vieja at first nosing. It’s much more spirity and less aromatic, slightly vodka-ish. Not very interesting so far, maybe this one’s more for mixing? Tends to improve but it reminds much less expressive than the others. Mouth: it’s the soapiest so far, and the most spirity too. Lacks coherence. Some juniper this time, a little cumin, grass, grapefruit, a faint dustiness, something slightly burnt…  Finish: short, grassy, a little burnt again. The soapiness remains there in the aftertaste. Comments: very forgettable, I’d say, but maybe tequila geeks will disagree? SGP:361 - around 65 points.

Patrón Añejo (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

Patrón Añejo (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Two stars A very well-known brand, even this whisky guy knew about Patron, imagine! Now I’ve done a bit of googling and it seems that it’s also very controversial, some tequila guys seem to really hate Patrón… It’s supposed to be ‘luxury’ (how vulgar!), let’s see… Colour: straw. Nose: well, not much, it’s more or less in the same league as the Cazadores on the nose. The almondy side is nice but it lacks aromas and I find it rather weak. It’s also a notch eau-de-vie-ish. However it tends to improve a bit, with touches of brine and nougat and liquorice. Remains light and shy. Mouth: same feeling of caramel and vanilla as in the Amate, but this is a little bigger this time. Nice spices, cloves, caraway, some vanilla, some oranges and some Chinese anise. It’s a very easy drink. Finish: medium length, smooth, slightly sweetish. Juniper and a little pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: SGP:451 - around 74 points.

Some pretty good tequilas today but I don’t think we’ve seen much light! Maybe next time? Two more sessions and we’ll have exhausted our stocks of tequila. Who said thank god, who?


Tequila anejo, session three

We’re going on with our little exploration of Tequiland today. The latest session was a little disappointing, especially the pretty expensive and hype Patron has been frankly underwhelming…

Herencia De Plata Añejo (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

Herencia De Plata Añejo (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Two stars and a half 100% agave, aged for 12 or 18 months depending on the (apparently very serious) sources. I’ve already noticed that things can be very shady with tequila information. A brand by Tequilas del Señor. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it seems that it’s a rather simple and fairly fruity tequila. It’s a tad spirity but I do kind of enjoy the touches of oranges and pears, the moderately agavey notes and the hints of ripe kiwis. There’s a growing vanilla from the oak as well but it’s a rather shy tequila so far. Pleasant, reminds me of the Amate.

Mouth: really easy, rather light and fruity, smoothly citrusy (tangerines and oranges), with also a little passion fruit, all that coated with vanilla and a few soft spices from the wood. Very soft curry. Finish: short to medium, with a little more agave and less vanilla, which is good news. Only a pinch of salt in the aftertaste. Comments: a round and easy one, in the same league as the Amate in my opinion. Maybe not for people who are seeking deep character and personality in their spirits. SGP:431 - 78 points.

Palapa Añejo (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

Palapa Añejo (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Four stars100% agave like all the other tequilas we're having. It was aged for 18 months in American oak barrels. Colour: straw. Nose: much, much more happening in this one, which is much more agave-y, earthier as well, pleasantly fragrant (cologne, lavender) and slightly smoky as well. A little humus, moss, wee touches of turpentine (nice touches), pinesap, honeydew and then a little charcoal and maybe coal smoke. A nose that I enjoy a lot, high quality, complex, fresh. Mouth: again, we’re close to the distillate, with a lot of agave, juniper, lime, pepper, olives and… stuff. It’s no big spirit but I like the fact that it’s close to the raw materials. Finish: quite long, very spicy, with more salt and pepper. Comments: we’re very close to the good mezcals! But always the same song, they should do batches at 45% vol., I’m sure they would be brilliant. SGP:362 - around 85 points.

Corralejo Añejo (38.5%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

Corralejo Añejo (38.5%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Two stars This was aged in new charred American oak barrels, just like bourbon. It seems that it's customary to stand while sipping this one. Not very convenient when writing tasting notes if you ask me. Colour: white wine (but the very slim bottle is coloured in red). Nose: nada, niente, nichts, rien, nothing. Well, what’s sure is that the Palapa was much more expressive. Having said that, this isn’t un-nice at all, it’s just very shy. The profile is actually similar to that of the Palapa, but this one only whispers. Maybe hints of pickled stuff… gherkins? Mouth: nice and fine, but extremely light, feels more like 30% vol., and my palate IS fresh. Nah, it’s weak, now I understand why you can stand while sipping this. Finish: very short, but I like this salty feeling. Comments: I think this is very good spirit (so no bad score), it’s just that it’s extremely light. And yes it came from a bottle that was just opened. SGP:230 - around 70 points.

El Charro Añejo (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

El Charro Añejo (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Two starsThis one is 100% Blue Agave harvested from proprietary fields and aged for over two years in French oak barrels (I mean the spirit). Colour: straw. Nose: we’re more in the style of the Herencia, with more vanilla than in the other two, and less agave. Having said that it’s clean and even kind of pleasantly crisp, with maybe more lemon than in all the other ones. Also a little chocolate, caramel and mocha, then touches of juniper as often, cinnamon cake. Decent, I’d say, but I seem to like them crisper. Mouth: yeah, the caramel and the vanilla are a little loud, but it’s a pleasant dra… her, spirit. It’s not big, it’s a little too sweet for my taste, but yeah, it’s decent. Not much else to say I’m afraid. Finish: short to medium, a little roasted, a little sugary. A little burnt stuff in the aftertaste, as well as touches of salt. Comments: same league as the Corralejo. But it’s very cheap, less than 20 euros it seems. SGP:430 - around 70 points.

Right, four more tequilas añejo and we’re done. We’ve especially got two from very crazy bottles, you’ll see… And then we’ll tackle the reposados, and then the blancos… No, I’m joking, I don’t think we’ll touch any other tequila before long. Unless some cask strength Arette or such crosses our path ;-). Now, high-end mescals, any day!


Tequila anejo, session four

Esperanto Seleccion Añejo (38%, OB, +/-2013)

Esperanto Seleccion Añejo (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) It’s true that we sometimes scoff at some of the Scots’ crazy decanters, wooden longships or stag’s heads in metal-plated plastic, but tequila goes way further and this handmade bottle is plain crazy. And the blue agave looks like some thistle! This tequila by Distilleria Azteca was aged for three years, which is long for tequila. Almost extra-añejo. Colour: white wine. Nose: nice, clean and smooth, extremely easy, fruity, vanilla-ed, with a little brine and a very discreet smokiness in the background. I also get a little triple-sec or orange liqueur, touches of Campari and a little honeydew. So all smooth, soft and relatively light, but clean. ‘Pleasant’ (not that I like that word too much). Mouth: it’s very short, there isn’t much body but it starts nicely on lime and brine, then vanilla. The problem is that it’s really extremely short so you have to keep sipping away until you find more flavours. No thanks! ;-). Finish: non-existent, there isn’t any finish. Nah, okay, touches of grapefruits and honey. Comments: I’m sure this is quality tequila but frankly, it’s weak. Okay, weakish. And yes my palate is fresh, this is my very first spirit today and I haven’t eaten anything since five hours. Honest! SGP:230 - around 65 points.

Ocho Curado (40%, OB, +/-2013)

Ocho Curado (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Four stars This is actually tequila blanco to which they have added cooked agave for a while. That’s what has coloured this tequila. I have to confess I had thought it was an añejo when I sourced it, because of the colour. I should start to read the finer prints! Colour: pale white wine. Nose: bizarre stuff, very unusual and a little disconcerting, but it’s got a mezcaly side that’s appealing. There’s quite some cooked apples or tarte tatin and then more and more caramel, but it remains clean and kind of pure. No caramel bomb at all. In the background, as usual, brine and lime as well as a little olive oil. I like this nose. Mouth: three times bigger than the disappointing Esperanto (got that one?). And good! It’s a briny spirit and there are bags of olives, I’m really feeling we’re much more in mescal territories. Moderately smoky but there’s a lot of agaves, with touches of quince jelly in the background. Some pepper too. Finish: quite long, all on brine and lemon. Did I mention olives? Comments: I had thought this would be a mistake but it’s not, I’m glad I could try this mezcaly Curado. Now I understand why Ocho seem to have a very good reputation! SGP:462 - around 85 points.

Herradura Añejo (40%, OB, +/-2013)

Herradura Añejo (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Two stars This is a large brand by Brown-Forman. It comes from the Lowlands, not the Highlands. It’s aged in white oak for around two years. Colour: straw. Nose: how un-tequila! This is pure apple juice with a little vanilla thrown in. It’s extremely soft, whispering, with an agavy side that’s almost unnoticeable. There’s quite some soap, though, apple peelings, and maybe tiny hints of roasted sesame oil (with this smoky side). Cadum? Mouth: not too bad! Much more body again although this is now a little rough and ‘untidy’, certainly a little soapy, with these violety touches that we already found in other tequilas. Finish: quite long and quite peppery. Certainly grassier. Comments: a rather rough – and rather soapy – anejo but I’d count it amongst the ‘not-too-bad’ ones. SGP:361 - around 72 points.

Kah Añejo (40%, OB, +/-2013)

Kah Añejo (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) one star and a half The craziest bottling, it’s said that ‘Its bottle and spirit are reflective of the Day of the Dead.’ How scary is that? The bottles are hand painted so no two bottles are exactly the same. I hope this ‘deadly’ (albeit organic) bottling will make for a perfect last tequila! Colour: straw. Nose: ah, this is interesting. This time it’s rather mushrooms and damp earth that speak first, then we have more coffee. It remains light and discreet, like the vast majority of the tequilas we could try, but at least it’s got some personality. There’s also some tobacco smoke (cigar) and a very moderate brine. Little lemon or lime but a little olive oil there is. Soft but, er, very pleasant. Mouth: nice, hard to say more. Good structure, a little brine, lemon, some kind of grassy gin (right, juniper), violet drops, lemon liqueur… Sadly, the middle is weak and… Finish: it’s very short again. Only the slightly salty/limy aftertaste is fairly pleasant. Comments: seriously, it’s not a bad one, it’s just that it’s lacking knack and zest and oomph and responsiveness. SGP:250 - around 68 points.



So, we’re done! There are very mixed feelings at Tequilafu… er, Whiskyfun Towers. I think it’s obvious that tequila has some potential, but also that by not always mastering white oak too well (vanilla kills agave, I’d say) and by keeping the strength too low (40% can be okayish some time but 38% is really too low) the makers are missing opportunities quality wise. I think mezcal (rather the mezcals I could try) is much more interesting than tequila (right, than the tequilas I could try). What seems pretty obvious to me is that apart from the odd cask strength or single cask versions such as some Arette, tequila isn’t quite a worthy malternative and that’s why you won’t see much more tequila on whiskyfun. Now, I’d love to be proven wrong!
PS: these three have been quite very good, though. 7 Leguas Añejo - Palapa Añejo - Ocho Curado.








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