Tasting Notes with Jim Beauregard: One tequila, two tequilaBy JIM BEAUREGARD August 14. 2018 11:58PM
National Tequila Month was in July and Cinco de Mayo was in May, but you shouldn’t wait for a special day to enjoy tequila.
Let’s first consider some facts about tequila.
For example, there isn’t just one type of tequila. But they all have a common denominator, like being made from the blue agave plant grown in a specific region of Mexico in and around the Jalisco state, on the North Pacific side.
Next, Tequila falls into two basic types in terms of contents.
Tequila can be 100 percent agave or less than a 100 percent in a mix, which is called mixto. In this case, it must contain 51 percent agave at a minimum, and thus up to 49 percent of other types of fermentable sugars. The latter is a result of the laws of supply and demand.
During the 1930s Tequila demand outstripped the then-available supply of agave, so a mixture was allowed.
The two styles — Tequila and Tequila mixto — are available in four grades based on aging.
From light to dark:
Tequila blanco, silver and plata comprise one grade, and is typically white in color. For the most part it is not aged in barrels. When it is it’s filtered to remove any coloring it picked up from the barrels.
Then there’s gold, made the same way as blanco, but it has caramel tinting.
There’s also reposado Tequila — this is where barrel aging comes into the picture. Reposado is aged from three to six months in oak. Not the 55 gallon type for wine, but much bigger oak vats holding between 10,000 and 30,000 liters (think of a two-liter bottle of soda and multiply by 15,000, and you get the idea).
Lastly comes añejo, which is aged for at least one full year in 600 liter barrels. The barrel size does make a difference; the smaller the barrel, the more the Tequila is in contact with the wood, from which it can extract both color and flavor.
Here are some picks from light to dark(er):
Don Valente Blanco. “Blanco” means white, and in the case of Tequila, clear, and this one’s as clear as water. The nose is clean and pure, with some citrus hints. On the palate it’s got some texture and weight, a good kick, and citrus fruit comes to the fore again, in this case notes of tangerine and lime to accompany what was on the nose.
Cobalto Tequila Blanco. Also clear as water, with a nose that speaks of alcohol and more citrus. On the palate the texture is smooth, the alcohol strong, and the flavors prominent, with some pungent spice in the range of white pepper, and a long finish that holds the flavor and the alcohol.
Casa Noble Tequila Joven. The term joven means that the Tequila is similar to a blanco, but is blended with small amounts of older Tequilas, to give them some additional character. Now just the slightest hint of color is present, in the range of pale straw. The nose is peppery, along with citrus. The palate is intense, and the alcohol blends smoothly with the flavor, which includes lime, pepper, and some vegetal notes in the distance that give it depth.
Next week we will wrap up our tequila talk with reposados and añejos.
Contact wine and beer and lately Tequila writer Jim Beauregard at email@example.com