These deliciously flavoured tequila expressions won’t transport you back to college days. Really!
It is an inescapable phase in life. Not unlike puberty, cheap whisky and Jägerbomb, chasing tequila shots is a rite of passage. Those who weren’t too posh to lark around with college mates would reminisce about spontaneous grimacing that came after a potent trident comprising a shot of tequila, a pinch of salt and a wedge of lime.
Tequila, as we knew then, was a guileless spirit for the young and exuberant, or is it? To be legally classified as tequila, the spirit must be distilled from blue agave and produced in the state of Jalisco, Mexico and its authorised vicinity, while another comparable spirit known as mezcal can be distilled from any type of agave and any region. Their correlation is similar to the one shared by cognac and brandy as well as champagne and sparkling wine.
After distillation, things get rather interesting because much like cognac and its hallowed age classification, tequila is also exhorted to honour theirs. On the bottom rung is Blanco or Plata, which means white or silver in Spanish. It is predominantly unaged or at most aged briefly for less than 2 months. The herbaceous and vegetal taste is what most people are initiated with and largely responsible for the ill impression of tequila.
A step above that is Reposado, meaning rested. The spirit is aged from 2 months to less than a year in oak barrels for it to mellow. Beyond this point, the spirit begins to develop a silkier finish and exhibit a pronounced, rounded flavour imparted by the oak cask. Añejo, which means aged, requires the spirit to be matured between one and 3 years, while the pinnacle of tequila is Extra Añejo. All tequila expressions classified as such spend at least 3 years in oak barrels, with many going above and beyond.
Though Blanco can be coarse, if it’s distilled well by reputable brands, it can also be reasonably smooth and can form an exceedingly versatile nucleus for flavoured tequila. Read on to discover which flavoured tequila you should try.
Rich and exceptionally smooth. In fact, this tequila infused with the essence of Arabica coffee beans is so velvety that it can be served neat. Unlike other coffee liqueurs which are unfortunately sickly sweet by design or otherwise, this coffee tequila is dry on the palate but still permeates the roof of your mouth with its sweet roast aroma. Get it for espresso martini or just straight up with Coca-Cola.
Premium tequila distillery Cazcabel is named after a medicine man and local legend known as Don Cazcabel. The distillery offers varieties. Coffee, checked. Coconut, sure. It is, however, the expression marrying Yucatan honey dew and New Zealand manuka honey that should command your attention. Think of it as a south-of-the-border interpretation of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey and Jim Beam Honey. Pour some soda, squeeze a wedge of lime, top the glass with some ice and you are good to go.
Picture a deserted beach dotted with coconut trees and enhance it with imagery of azure waters and lapping waves. Imagine a kind soul approaches you and offers you a glass of tequila sunrise – made not with any tequila but coconut-flavoured tequila. That’s the reason why you will want this bottle and not merely for tequila sunrise. Try it with frozen margarita.
Such a seductive hue can only be the result of ageing. Why is it pink, you wonder? It is technically Blanco but thanks to a quick maturation in French white oak barrels sourced from the famous Napa Valley wine region, traces of Cabernet wine from the barrel are imprinted onto the spirit. The end product is still very much tequila – think robust earthy, herbaceous notes – with floral undertones from the berries. Use this in place of the usual.
Matured in excess of 12 months in ex-Bourbon oak barrels, which apart from agave notes, you can expect vanilla, butterscotch and honey. The unique selling point of this Añejo tequila is the introduction of Red Spanish smoked pineapples, culminating in a complex body evocative of the tropics. The classic Mexican sunset cocktail will taste so much better with this.
Crafted by hand and 100% organic, Dulce Vida is making a splash with its exciting offerings and youthful approach to marketing. On top of the customary, the brand also purposefully produces its tequila with margarita and paloma in mind. One such is the grapefruit variant. But for the more adventurous, seek out the Pineapple Jalapeño Tequila and Lime Tequila.