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

April 27, 2014


The quest for malternatives,
another go at tequila

Ha, tequila. Not much luck with tequila so far, as soon as you leave the best brands such as Arette behind, you just don’t find any worthy malternatives. But we’re stubborn, aren’t we, and hopefully we’ll have better luck today.

Calle 23 'Reposado' (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

Calle 23 'Reposado' (40%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Two stars and a half The reposados are tequilas that spend just a few months in oak, so they’re paler than the anejos. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: I have to say I like this better than most ‘commercial’ anejos, because it’s purer and cleaner, without any soapy tones and not much feeling of ‘cheap gin’. I really like this blend of gherkin brine, green olives, agaves and damp earth, as well as the touches of grapefruits. It’s not quite as big as the good mescals, but we’re getting there. The oak is hardly detectable in my opinion. Mouth: a little sweet for my taste, but other than that it’s all very fine, easy, quite fruity, with some salt but little smoke. A little vanilla and maybe tinned peaches. Also touches of crystallised ginger. Finish: rather short but clean and more agave-y. Comments: no big spirit but quality’s certainly high despite the relative thinness. SGP:440 - around 78 points.

Arette 'Reposado Suave' (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

Arette 'Reposado Suave' (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Two stars Suave means smooth, which is a quality that’s gained by extending ageing. So this should be a reposado that’s aged for a longer time, without being an anejo of course. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a lower strength but a brighter, more expressive nose, although this style is very close to that of the Calle 23. Maybe a little more spices, especially soft ones such as pink peppercorns. I also find a little mango. It is a very beautiful nose, slightly fruitier than the Calle 23 in fact. Mouth: it’s got this sweetness that’s a little disturbing, and maybe the 38% are too low, but otherwise it’s a fine tequila, smooth indeed, with notes of oranges and grapefruits plus a little caraway. Pretty undemanding, in fact. Finish: short and slightly sugary. Grapefruit liqueur? Comments: the Calle 23 beats it on the palate, I think this sweet smoothness is actually a handicap. But hey, I know next to nothing about tequila… SGP:630 – around 73 points.

Yes I know that was surprising considering it’s Arette, our favourite brand of tequila! Let’s try another one, maybe we’ll have better luck…

Arette 'Unique' (40%, OB, extra- añejo, +/-2013)

Arette 'Unique' (40%, OB, extra- añejo, +/-2013) Two stars and a half This one was aged for six years, which is very long for tequila. Having said that, the colour is very pale, so it could have been third or fourth fill wood, which is a good thing in my opinion. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it’s a much grassier one, more austere, rather smoky and quite mineral at first nosing. It’s only after twenty seconds that it becomes rounder and delicately honeyed, without losing its freshness. Only wee whiffs of brine. A rather light nose, in fact. Mouth: good body this time, not big but sufficiently firm and tense, with some grapefruits and olives at first sips, then more smoothness again, with a little fir honey and maple syrup. Pinesap, a little earth. Finish: a little short again but I enjoy this blend of earth, resins and honey. A dash of white pepper. Comments: we’re still far from the stunning – and very expensive - ‘gran clase’ single casks, but it is high quality tequila. Just a little weak again, which is the main problem I find in tequila. SGP:540 - 79 points.

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

Tapatio 'Añejo' (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Two stars and a half This one seems to be quite ‘artisan’ according to the best online whisky retailers ;-). The 38% are scary though. Colour: almost white. Nose: indeed, this was aged for almost two years I think and yet there’s no oak whatsoever. But it’s a clean, very mineral and slightly smoky tequila, with also drops of brine and lemon juice, as well as a micro-gherkin. Coal smoke. A perfect nose as far as aromas are concerned, but it’s extremely light and you really need to work on it, which is a little tiring. Mouth: yes, a crying shame, really. It’s a lovely spirit, perfectly balanced between smoke, rocks, lemon, ginger/caraway and salt/brine, but it’s much too light for my taste. That’s extremely frustrating when the spirit’s seemingly excellent. Finish: short, but the briny/salty part is quite perfect. Comments: I like it as much as the latest Arette, but I just cannot go to 80 because of the flatness. That weakness is the main reason why tequila cannot make for a malternative in my opinion, and there aren’t many exceptions, it seems… SGP:451 - around 79 points.

Don Julio 'Añejo' (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

Don Julio 'Añejo' (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) We had tried a high-end version called 1942 last year, and I thought it was a little too sweet. Maybe this cheaper version will be appropriately tenser… Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s shier than the Tapatio, there isn’t much happening, I’m afraid. I do enjoy these touches of melons, lemons and grapefruits, as well as the discreet mineral notes (gravel), but all this is very shy indeed. The Tapatio was a monster in comparison. Hello? Mouth: nada. I’m sorry but this is weakish, flattish, uninspiring spirit. Or maybe it’s not meant to be sipped like this? Tinned fruits, peaches, pears… Finish: short. Comments: it’s not bad but I find this really too weak. Puts you in a bad mood, grumble grumble grumble… SGP:330 – around 60 points.

Oh my, should we really go on?... After all, there’s always hope…

El Jimador 'Añejo' (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013)

El Jimador 'Añejo' (38%, OB, tequila, +/-2013) Two stars A very large brand, it seems. In case you’re wondering, a jimador is a farmer who harvests agave. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s the first time I find so much oak, and it’s not the nicest oak, we’re navigating between sawdust and pencil shavings. Having said that, it’s not an unpleasant nose, I think the rather heavy vanilla that’s here as well blends well with the agave. Touches of cloves, nutmeg, cumin… It’s all rather spicy. Mouth: it’s fair, rather smooth, more on stewed apples than the others, with also fruit bonbons and touches of bananas and vanilla fudge. Believe or not, this one reminds of Jameson! Finish: short, but sweet and fruity. Extremely easy. Comments: I think this is not bad at all. Not much character but it goes down very well. If you’re thirsty… SGP:530 – around 75 points.

Pfff… Not much luck today, we’d better stop here and try a few other tequilas later.







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