Fine Spirits: The Summer Shift Toward Tequila
For those of us who appreciate well-made craft spirits, sometimes sipping a great spirit neat or over a single giant cube of ice is just enough refreshment we need for summer. And I can't think of a better time to take a fresh look at Tequila. (And one Mezcal, for that matter.)
Check out these incredible new discoveries:
I had seen these interesting looking agave spirits at places like the wine store in San Francisco's Ferry Building, and in the past couple years had actually experienced one or two of them and remember being impressed by their cleanness and ultra-high quality at all expressions. It wasn't until recently that I got a chance to sit down and sample the line side-by-side to really get a feel for the effort. Saying I was impressed hardly describes how deeply. Suffice to say, I recommend every person interested in quality tequila to give them a go. You won't be sorry you did. Created by David Ravandi who built Terra Noble tequila.
Estate grown organically grown agave, between 4200' and 5600' elevation in the iron soils of highland Jalisco, makes up the raw material for 123 Tequilas. The blanco is fragrant with scents of pure agave, beautifully structured and possessed of faint spice in the finish. Quite wonderful.
$39.99 per bottle
123 Dos Tequila Reposado, Matitan, Jalisco, Mexico
A slight caramel and vanilla note in the aroma combined with a wonderful spice component made me hope the taste would be as delicious as the nose, and my expectations were happily exceeded. Aged in new American white oak with a medium char, the tequila is quite good, with flavors mirroring the aromas.
$46.99 per bottle
123 Trés Tequila Añejo, Matitan, Jalisco, Mexico
At first sight, the Trés isn't as dark as many añejos, but that doesn't mean there isn't depth to this offering. After spending 18 months in new American white oak barrels, there are even more caramel notes in the aroma than the reposado and a rounder texture. This is a sipping tequila with a lot of character.
$54.99 per bottle
Everything about this rare, top-of-the-line tequila is exceptional, not the least of which the aging oak is French limousin, the same oak used in fine French Burgundy wine. I first experienced this beauty at a trade event several years ago, but it has only been recently that I'd been able to aquire any. It is so rare only 2500 bottles are made each year. Spending 40 months in oak, the spice, the fruits, the incredibly smooth texture all combine to make one think this could stand up next to the finest brandy. A lot more finesse than you expect.
$148.99 per bottle
El Luchador Organic Tequila 100 proof Matitan, Jalisco, Mexico
The playful label depicting Mexican-style wrestling culture may make you think you'll be drop-kicked from the overproof strength, but its smooth texture belies the number on the bottle. A clean agave nose followed by clean flavor, it's a straightforward style of tequila with a hint of rye at the finish, reminding me of a light aquavit.
$44.99 per bottle
Mezcal Cráneo Organic Espadin Mezcal Artesanal Oaxaca, Mexico
This fresh-tasting Mezcal introduces itself with mezcal smoke, but not at all acrid like so many of its competitors. It's approachable with a lively, aggressive flavor and a suggestion of sea salt in the finish. Made by the 123 Spirits people, artisan tequila makers.
$47.99 per bottle