Alright so I know my way around a tequila bar. I’m obsessed with Gloria’s margaritas, I took a cruise to Mexico that one time, there was that
unforgettable night of my 21st birthday…
Okay just kidding my tequila knowledge is pretty limited. I know it’s made from agave, sometimes they use worms, and most importantly the magical trinity of : salt, tequila, lime–in that order.
This week I was invited to taste a selection of tequilas from Casa Herradura. My initial reaction to this invite was something like: Uh what. I don’t taste tequila. I don’t really savor tequila…I shoot tequila…as fast as possible and then wash it down with something else…I wonder, will they have chasers? Margaritas! Def gonna serve us some margs. Can’t wait. Yum. In summary, I went not really not knowing what I was getting myself into.
The evening involved a dinner with tequila pairings, including their latest and greatest limited edition Reserva 2014 Scotch Cask Finish Reposado. Scotch? What? I thought you were drinking tequila?? Yes I know–confusing, but I’ll explain later. In addition to trying three different varieties of tequila, I received a crash course in the production of tequila, the history of Herradura’s distillery, and had my mind opened to new ways to drink tequila (hint: straight never chase that).
Part One: Crash Course in the Making of Tequila
Alright tequila noobs, here’s what you need to know. Tequila is made from agave. Really good tequila is made from 100% agave (check the lable because there are some thingss out that are only 51% agave but mascarade as tequila). To be officially considered tequila, the agave has to be grown within five specific states in Mexico (kind of like the Champagne region of France). Agave takes seven years to mature and it is harvested in a vary laborious process by jimadores. Tequila has been in production since the 1500s. Once harvested, the agave is mashed up, fermented and then distilled. Oh and that worm thing I mentioned earlier? Yeah that’s a marketing ploy.
After a second round of distillation, the tequila is considered Plata (that’s “Silver” you gringos) as it’s aged less than 2 months. And can be bottled then or aged further. If you wanna age it further you put it in oak barrels and wait. If you wait 2-12 months its considered Reposado, 1-3 years it’s Añejo, and over 3 years it’s Extra Añejo. Good things come to those who wait.
Anyways are you still wondering about what “Reserva 2014 Scotch Cask Finish Reposado” means? Let me break it down for you.
- Reserva 2014: Limited edition bottle. Buy it now. Save it for later. Get rich quick. Demand outweighs supply. So hop on that you and start collecting tequila.
- Scotch Cask: The tequila was aged in two different types of casks. The first is the traditional oak cask for 11 months and then the second is a “carefully selected single malt scotch cask from the renowned Highland and Islay regions of Scotland” for 3 more months. Whew. don’t you feel smarter now?
Part Two: Herradura’s Distillery is Old. And Haunted.
Starting production in 1870, Casa Herradura is one of the most historic tequila producers. Quick math that’s over 140 years of tequila, and bonus they invented Reposado in 1974 and Extra Añejo in 1995. They’ve also won a bunch of rewards. These guys know what’s up.
Obvi, if your distillery is around for 100+ years and been apart of the lives of several generations of workers in a culture that thrives on superstitions and folklore, you’re gonna have some good stories. The Casa Herradura distillery doesn’t disappoint. The grounds have a well that reaches hundreds of feet into the ground and can be reached by a winding staircase. Back in the day this staircase was used as a sort of Underground Railroad-esque escape route during a period of the persecution of Catholics during the turn of the century. Legend has it that a dragon guards the entrance of the well and now visitors are not allowed to go down there…alrighty then. There are also ghosts that haunt the place. I saw a pic on someone’s phone of the silhouette of a little boy photo-bombing a tour groups picture. Photoshopped or not it freaked me out and I can very easily see that some sort of spirits (haaaaa) haunt the place.
Part Three: Tequila Goes with Food.
I’m about to blow your mind right now. Tequila can be sipped. I repeat. Sipped. That’s right not as a shot, not in a marg. Sipped. Like a drink. With food. It’s fine. I’ll give you a second to process that.
Okay here’s my thoughts and those of the expert on the three tequilas of the night:
Me: Looks like tequila (despite being in a champagne flute). Smells like tequila. *sips* whew def tastes like tequila. Holy cow. Where is my chaser?! *takes unsatisfying gulp of water and trys to remain composed*
Expert: Herbal scent with a light presence of vanilla and wood. Sweet taste with a touch of oak. The finish is smooth, clean, gentle and soft at the end.
Me: Oh! This one smells like vanilla. *sips* Fuq. Doesn’t taste like vanilla. It’s a tad easier to drink because of the smell I guess…Ooo! He said it has a vanilla flavor! Nailed it. #winning
Expert: Anise aroma with a touch of fruit and spices. Smooth flavor with sweet notes of cooked agave, vanilla, butter and dried fruit.
Scotch Cask Reposado
Me: Ugh more? *rallies and sips* Oooh doesn’t taste like tequila. Fuq there’s still a lot left to drink *sips again* Want chaser. Hm. Tastes like scotch.
Expert: The aroma is a masterful combination of toasted malt and smoky wood. The unique scotch cask results in a long-drawn finish with a touch of sweetness.
So not going to lie, sipping straight tequila is not my forte. It was my first time alright?! Gimme a break. I did it though. I don’t think I grimaced aaaall that much…Apparently in Mexico sipping tequila is a thing. The tequila expert claims to drink at least two ounces of tequila “neat” before lunch every day with his wife. His parents are 91 and drink tequila every day. Apparently everyone in the region drinks tequila every day. He claimed that the life expectancy is like 90 in the region (fact checked that: Jalisco the major Tequila producing region. It’s actually 75.4 years, just over the national average of Mexico). Clearly he’s been drinking the
Kool-Aid tequila with his facts. Nevertheless, I think its safe to say that we can throw out the “5 o’clock somewhere rule” and just totally indulge in brushing our teeth with a bottle of Jack enjoying tequila in the AM. In Mexico, they also drink tequila commonly mixed with Coke or Squirt.
The part of that evening that just blew my mind was the parings of the tequila with food. Sipping tequila became so much more bearable when food was present. The Silver was paired with chicken fried-quail, scrambled eggs and honey. The Reposado was paired with a surf and turf filet mignon and lobster (okay, I guess anything would taste good next to that). But the real deal breaker for me that really solidified the idea that tequila enjoyed without salt and lime was the dessert round. The Scotch Cask Reposado killed it as a pairing aside the chocolate mouse and brownie tower. It was like mac and cheese. PB and J. Tequila and chocolate. A match made in heaven.
So if you want to share the Christmas spirits (literally haaaa) this season, upgrade you margs with one of Herraduras 100% agave tequilas, give a bottle to your boss [or parents or uncle or mailman or whatever], invest in the limited edition Scotch Cask Reposado and sell it next year for a profit, or just #treatyoself and enjoy it with chocolate.