Talking Tequila

What to know before you buy plus tasting notes from Wine Enthusiast's Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen.


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Buying Basics

When shopping for Tequila, look for “100% blue agave” on the label or somewhere on the bottle. If you don’t find that assurance, it is a mixto, with as little as 51% blue agave Tequila. It might be okay for drowning in fruit juices and liqueurs, but for quality, crowd-pleasing, headache-free cocktails, stick with the 100% blue agave bottlings.

In the true blue 100% category, these are the types:

Blanco and Silver Tequilas are either unaged or aged for two months in oak barrels or stainless steel; bracing, peppery and vegetal spirits, can be sipped but best for cocktails.

Gold Tequilas are blends of Blancos and aged (either Reposado, Anejo or Extra Anejo) Tequilas; will have slightly rounder profile, and faint caramel notes.

Reposado (rested) Tequilas have been aged for no less than two months but no more than a year in oak barrels. Again, can reward sipping neat but still deluxe cocktail-worthy.

Anejo (aged) Tequilas have been aged in oak barrels for a minimum of one year but less than three years. Definitely sipping Tequilas, with the oak-driven flavors minimizing the nervy-vegetal flavors of the younger spirits.

Extra Anejo are aged a minimum of three years in oak

Tequila Tasting Notes

The finest Tequila is made from 100% blue agave. In order to be labeled “Tequila,” it must be grown, produced, and bottled in Mexico’s DO Tequila region. “Plata” or “Silver” is generally bottled without oak aging. “Reposado” or “Aged” must rest in oak for at least two months, and “Anejo” or “Extra-aged” must spend a minimum of one year in oak barrels. Quality is strictly controlled by the Tequila Regulatory Council in Guadalajara.

Cazadores Reposado
Aged 2-11 months, tasted 14 times and blended to perfection. Light amber color. Pear, vanilla and toffee notes combine for an enticing aroma. Medium bodied with caramelized agave and toasted fennel flavors. Elegant, long lasting finish. MD/JJ

Corzo Anejo
Aged 12-36 months. Dark amber color with crème brulee, ripe pineapple, golden raisin and cinnamon notes in the nose. Barrel resting between the second and third distillation produces flavors of baked apple, fennel, and pain d’epice on the palate. Warm and rich, with a honey-toasted oak finish. MD/JJ

Corzo Silver
Triple distillation creates a transparent tequila with gem-like brilliance. Tropical fruit, melon, lemon zest, floral notes and white pepper on the nose. Refreshing and clean in the mouth with a crisp finish--like sipping liquid silver. MD/JJ

Don Eduardo Reposado
Straw colored with medium body. Light citrus aroma followed by white pepper and crème caramel. Flavors of dark chocolate with sea salt, nectar and grilled fruits on the palate. Lingering finish. MD/JJ

Don Roberto Plata
Excellent clarity. Guava, melon, cinnamon with undertones of orange blossom. Full mouth roundness and subtle confection with hints of caramelized pineapple and tobacco. Enduring finish with residual sweetness. MD/JJ

El Jimador Anejo
Aged 12 months. Medium amber color. Cooked agave, toasted oak and spice on the nose. Light nutty flavors with soft vanilla on the palate. Smooth, sweet finish. MD/JJ

Herradura Reposado
Aged 11 months. Copper colored. Caramelized agave and anise on the nose. Light butter, raisins, and vanilla in the mouth. Brown spice and sweetness on the finish. MD/JJ

Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Anejo
Dark amber color. Nose of mixed nuts, oak and pain d’epice, followed by baked apple, cinnamon, toasted almonds and custard in the mouth. Long, smooth finish. MD/JJ

La Joya Reposado
Aged 6 months. Medium amber color. Dominant toasted vanilla bean notes from new oak barrels are detected on the nose. Aromatic spice and black pepper on the palate. Long, easy finish. MD/JJ

Milagro Silver Select Barrel Reserve
Triple distilled, then mellowed in new French oak barrels just long enough to add smoothness without dulling the luminescence. The natural sweetness of agave is accented by pineapple upside-down cake, oak and light floral notes. Rich mouth feel leads to a clean finish. MD/JJ

Partida Anejo
Aged 18 months. Amber to bronze in color. Tropical fruit, mixed peppercorn and oak on the nose. Vanilla, honey and caramelized banana on the palate. Medium sweetness with a long smooth finish. MD/JJ

Patron Burdeos
Aged in American oak for 12 months and French oak for 10 months, Burdeos takes its name from the large Bordeaux barrels it is then finished in. Dark amber color. Cooked fruit and oak on the nose. Golden raisin and vanilla with full bodied smoothness on the palate. Velvet finish. MD/JJ

 ALSO SEE: Taking on Tequila for Mike and Jeff's destination report on the "Tequila Trail" in Jalisco, Mexico.

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