GSN Alert: July 24th – National Tequila Day

tequila-bottlesTequila has gotten itself a bad reputation over the years, being associated with hangovers, wild shot parties, and a myriad of fruity blenderized “margaritas”.  But, tequila is actually a fine spirit with a long heritage of high quality distillation.  Some might even say that it is the epitome of the craft as it takes 12 years for the Blue Weber agave plant to mature, and many small distilleries do much of the work by hand.  The best (and in my opinion) only tequilas worth drinking are made from 100% Blue Weber agave.  If you don’t see this on the bottle’s label, give it a pass.  Otherwise, you just may end up with a hangover.

Good Spirits News has reviewed many tequilas over the years.  Here are some for you to consider today, along with a few tequila related liqueurs.

1800 Milenio

1921 Tequila Cream

ArteNOM Seleccion

Avion

Casa Noble

Casamigos

CRUZ

Don Julio

Dulce Vida

Kah

Mariposa Agave Nectar

Milagro Unico

Olmeca Altos

Piedra Azul

Suerte

Tanteo

Tapatio

Tequila Ocho

Tres Agaves

GSN Review: Tequila & Mezcal Jarritos Glasses

In 2016, Stölzle Lausitz GmbH (a German glass manufacturer that makes, among other items, the Glencairn whisky glasses) and Romeo Hristov from Chisholm Trail Crafts started the development and testing of new glasses for tequila and mezcal inspired by the drinking jars [jarritos] for pulque and mezcal. The Riedel tequila glass (in its two versions, Ouverture and Vinum), the Waterford tequila glass (very similar to the Ouverture) and the Glencairn glass (apparently the preferred glass in USA for agave spirits tastings) among others, are all reasonably functional glasses. Why more glasses then?  Here’s what Romeo Hristov has to say:

“Stolzle and I were trying to bring a glass(es) that capture not only the flavor but also the historical roots of the drink ware for agave spirits. In much the same way as the agave spirits are unique for Mexico there is the “jarrito” [drinking jar], a unique drinking vessel for alcoholic beverages from agave (both fermented and distilled) which have been used for said beverages for over two thousand years. However, it’s not just the tradition behind it, but also its strikingly modern shape which quite closely resemble a stemless tulip snifter (especially in some of the Pre-Columbian pieces that come without handle) that called our attention. In brief, these glasses are a reinvention of this traditional drinking vessel with a modern design and functionality, and the general shape was intended to bring some of the unique feeling of rustic elegance of Mexico.”

We at the GSN offices have been trying these out for a week now and have to say that they are quite elegant, and serve their purpose well.  These are hand-blown glasses with heavy bases that rest well in the hand.  The shorter version has a slightly thicker rim which feels sturdy and somewhat more masculine, whereas the taller glass has a thinner, more feminine lip. The bowls are both deep and manage to catch and keep the olfactory sensation at a premium.  Having used the Glencairn and Riedel glasses for the past several years, these new agave spirit focused glasses offer a new and more focused experience to the tequila and mezcal aficionado.  Not only that, but they make a fine statement on the bar.  Salud!

GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Chisholm Trail Crafts

GSN Review: El Tesoro 80th Anniversary Limited Edition

To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the legendary La Alteña distillery in the highlands of Jalisco, El Tesoro has released one of its most aged tequilas yet – the El Tesoro™ 80th Anniversary Limited Edition. Aged for eight years and with only eight casks of this celebratory liquid in existence, the U.S. will be the only market to receive this bottling.

“In truth, my grandfather created a very inefficient process for making tequila,” says Carlos Camarena, Don Felipe’s grandson and Master Distiller for El Tesoro. “Yet it is these unique and stubborn production methods that make our tequila so special, and perhaps the most authentic. Eighty years later, we don’t care that there are faster ways to make tequila now. We care about the flavor, and the fact of the matter is that our method tastes better and is the best way to honor the agave.”

The process begins with the 100% estate-grown blue agave which grows for up to eight years in La Alteña’s mineral-rich soils and highlands climate, giving them a spiciness that is not often found in Jalisco. Once the agave reaches peak maturity, it is harvested by hand, removing the waxy stem for a smoother flavor. To note – it can take El Tesoro’s jimadores up to three years to completely harvest a field.

After harvest, the hearts of the blue agave – called the piñas – are cooked in an old-fashioned hornos oven for three straight days. The cooked pinas are then slowly crushed to release all their juice under a massive, two-ton volcanic tahona wheel. For this 80th Anniversary Edition, the liquid extracted is then distilled to 85 proof* at a low temperature in copper stills, that were made to Don Felipe’s specifications. El Tesoro is believed to be the only tequila to distill to proof, with no sugar or water added.

*Traditionally, El Tesoro is distilled to 80 proof. Since the liquid for the 80th Anniversary LTO would be aged for eight years, this liquid was instead distilled to 85 proof. The final result is 83 proof due to evaporation or “the angel’s share.”

“The 80th Anniversary Edition is the perfect tribute not only to our precious agave, but also to my grandfather,” says Camarena. “With it, we continue to push the boundaries of what it means to make excellent tequila, without sacrificing our traditional methods and beliefs. It is a spirit that I know Don Felipe would be proud to put his name on.”

El Tesoro 80th Anniversary Edition (83 proof)
Visual: Light gold.
Nose: Almost grassy and herbal, with a slight smokey mint character. The agave has a soft and buttery roundness, offset by strident oak.
Taste: Exceptionally smooth and light, with more of that curious mintiness. The agave tastes fresh and wholesome, and not entirely tamed by the barrel.
Finish: Medium long, with some of the oak notes making for a very dry fade.
Overall: An exceptional sipping tequila that is a testament to the master distiller’s skills in aging.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: El Tesoro Tequila

GSN Presents: The 2017 Advent Gift Guide – Day 13

Welcome to Day 13 of the GSN Advent Gift Guide! Today we have a very special tequila to share with you.

Casa Noble announced the latest addition to its extensive portfolio of first class tequilas. Casa Noble Selección del Fundador Volume II is a triple distilled, extra añejo, which has been aged for eight years in new Taransaud 114-liter French white oak barrels to impeccably develop its complex, elegant character.

Available since November 1, with only 300 bottles available worldwide, the luxury limited-edition Casa Noble Selección del Fundador Volume II celebrates Casa Noble’s rich history and the always forward-looking vision of the brand’s founder and maestro tequilero, Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo, as well as his creativity and expertise. Selección del Fundador Volume II is certified organic, and has been made with 100% Blue Weber agave plants, originally planted in 1997 to commemorate the founding of Casa Noble.

“My desire is to take tequila to the next level, to see what it can be,” adds Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo. “Selección del Fundador Volume II is an exquisite spirit showcasing our philosophy that making exceptional tequila is truly a noble pursuit. This tequila has been 20 years in the making, I hope people can enjoy sharing this treasured creation with us.”

Recently named “Tequila Producer of the Year” at the 2016 International Spirits Challenge, Casa Noble is one of the few certified organic and kosher tequilas on the market today. The product is made in small batches and always triple distilled – going beyond industry standards. Selección del Fundador Volume II is no exception and has an MSRP of $1,499.00.

GSN Suggests: Cinco de Mayo Cocktails

cinco-de-mayo-cocktailsWe were blown away this year with cocktail suggestions sent to us by brand representatives, bartenders and mixologists.  Here are just a few that caught our eye at the GSN offices.  Salud!

Amante Picante Margarita
By LA’s Juan Martinez (Toca Madera)
2 oz. DeLeón Platinum Tequila
.75 oz. agave
1 oz. lime juice
Serrano pepper
Cilantro
Muddle two pieces of Serrano pepper and clap 5 pieces of cilantro in a tin. Rim a highball with Tajin/Ghost pepper salt, shake all ingredients together and strain into a the highball glass. Garnish with a Serrano pepper and sprig of cilantro.

Bandera de Puebla
Created by Rob Krueger, Extra Fancy, Brooklyn
1 oz. Patron Reposado
1 oz. Patron Citronge Lime
.5 oz. Coconut Cream
.75 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
.75 oz. Pomegranate Juice
Mint Sprig for Garnish
Combine the Patron Reposado, Citronge Lime, Coconut & Lime Juice in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Gently pour the Pomegranate Juice so it settles to the bottom half of the drink creating two equal layers of white and red. Garnish with a sprig of mint to represent the three colors of the Mexican flag.

Cactus Bite
1 part DRAMBUIE®
2 parts Milagro Reposado Tequila
Juice of ½ Lemon
½ tsp. Sugar
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Add all to a mixing tin half-filled with ice. Shake until tin is frosted, strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice; Garnish with a Lemon or Lime Wedges, serve with a straw.

DaHouse Margarita
By Miami’s Eddie Fuentes (27 Restaurant & Bar, Broken Shaker)
2 oz. DeLeón Platinum Tequila
.75 oz. Homestead lime
.75 oz. pineapple sage infused agave syrup
Shake and serve over ice. Garnish with Half Moon Spicy salt rim, a spray of Mezcal, fresh pineapple, sage and a lime wheel.

Drambuie® Margarita
1 part DRAMBUIE®
1 scoop of cubed ice
1 part lime juice
1 lime wedge
1 orange twist
2 parts Reposado Tequila (we recommend Milagro)
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled salt and black pepper-rimmed coupette. Garnish with a lime wedge and a twist of orange.

Herradura Vesuvio
2oz Herradura Silver
¾oz Red pepper juice
½oz Lime Juice
¼ oz Cholula hot sauce
¼ oz Agave nectar
Rim a coupe glass with cayenne pepper and salt mix Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake hard and pour into the chilled coupe glass.

The Highland Margarita
½ part Drambuie
2 parts Milagro
½ part triple sec
Juice of 1 Lime
Add all to a mixing tin half-filled with ice. Shake until tin is frosted, strain into a margarita glass over fresh ice; Garnish with a fresh Lime wedge, serve with a cocktail stirrer.

The Horseshoe Margarita
2 parts Tequila Herradura Silver
1 parts Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1/2-3/4 part Agave Nectar (to taste)
Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake hard so that some of the ice melts, then strain over fresh ice.  Garnish with a lime wedge.

 Jimi Punch
(20 servings)
1 Bottle el Jimador Silver
1 bottle Korbel Champagne
6 oz Campari
6 oz Agave Syrup
1 liter Orange juice
¼ liter lemon juice
1 orange cut into slices
1 tray of Raspberries
Add all ingredient to a large punch bowl, add lots of ice stir, cover and leave to sit 20 mins before serving. Stir occasionally during service.

La Perla
1 ½ oz Partida Reposado Tequila
1 ½ oz Domecq Manzanilla Sherry
¾ oz Mathilde Pear Liqueur
Lemon twist
Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Las Flores de Mayo
By New  York City’s Brian Matthys (The Gander, Corkbuzz)
2 oz. DeLeón Platinum Tequila
1 oz. Verjus
¼ oz. Velvet Falernum
2 dashes cacao bitters
Add all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir well over ice. Strain into a chilled couple and garnish with a thin lime wheel.

Partida Breakfast Margarita
Created by Jacques Bezuidenhout
1 3/4 oz Partida Blanco Tequila
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz Cointreau
2 tsp. orange marmalade
1/2 oz agave syrup (1 part Partida Agave Nectar, 1 part water)
Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange slice.

Partida Paloma
2 oz Partida Blanco Tequila
1 Pinch Salt
Half a Lime
Grapefruit Soda (such as Jarritos or Squirt)
Fill a highball glass with ice and add the tequila and salt. Squeeze the lime half into the glass and drop into the drink and top with grapefruit soda.

Spice of Life
Created by Damian Windsor, DC Berridge LLC group (Warwick, Firefly, Tiki No, Power House, Dark Room), LA
1 oz. Roca Patron Silver
1 oz. Patron Citronge Lime
1 oz. Frangelico
2 Strawberries
.5 oz. lime juice
2 Slices of jalapeno
Muddle strawberries to a paste, add liquid ingredients and cubed ice, shake and strain onto fresh ice in a double old-fashioned glass and garnish with a half strawberry and jalapeno slices.

Spicy Raspberry Margarita
1 ½ oz. el Jimador Reposado
½ oz. Chambord
1 oz. Sprite
2 oz. Sour mix
3 dashes of Tabasco
In a shaker filled with ice, add ingredients and shake to mix. Pour into margarita glass rimmed with spicy salt. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Tamarind Paloma
5 oz of el Jimador blanco
5 oz Bohemia
5 oz of fresh lemon juice
5 oz of tamarind syrup
2 Dashes of orange bitters.
Shake all ingredients except the Bohemia beer with ice and pour over ice.  Fill rest of glass with Bohemia beer.  Served in a Collins glass.

Tomar Bueno
Created by Damian Windsor, DC Berridge LLC group (Warwick, Firefly, Tiki No, Power House, Dark Room), LA
1 oz. Patron Roca Silver
.75 oz. Patron Citronge Lime
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. grapefruit juice
Top with Squirt
Add ice and liquid ingredients to a highball glass, garnish with a grapefruit peel twist, alternately take a big sip out of a can of Squirt soda and add the liquid ingredients directly to it.

The Yuzu and Thai Chili Margarita
Created by Annelise McAuliffe, PAIR Magazine
1 ½ oz ounces Yuzu Juice
1 ½ oz Partida Reposado Tequila
½  Triple Sec or Cointreau
½ – 1 oz honey (adjust to your preference of sweet)
Garnish:
Thai chili pepper
*Thai chili salt
Fresh Thai basil
Rim the glass with yuzu juice and the chili salt. Shake all the ingredients, except fresh Thai basil, Thai pepper and the salt with ice in a cocktail shaker until the outside of the shaker is cold. Strain into a glass over rocks, or “up”.  Garnish with a Thai chili and fresh Thai basil if desired. Enjoy with the pepper in the drink for great spicy flavor. *Thai chili salt – this spicy salt is super easy to create at home, crush dried pepper and mix with salt!

GSN Review: Asombroso The Collaboration Tequila

Silver-Oak-Collaboration-Humidor-Black_grandeBoasting the most phallic bottle design I have ever seen, Asombroso nonetheless makes some incredibly expensive and unique tequilas.  This particular bottle entitled “The Collaboration” retails for $1,800.  If you take a closer look at the image you’ll discover part of the reason for the high cost.  Each bottle is hand crafted with Millefiori glass inside the base and stopper of a crystal decanter.  This is then housed inside of a lockable wooden humidor (complete with humidity gauge) and rested on top of a laser etched pedestal.  So, this is collectible art, not just booze.

What makes the tequila itself unique are several aspects.  Firstly, it is a very old tequila aged for 11 years.  You won’t find many spirits other than whiskies that age for this long.  Also, it is double barrel aged, first for a decade in oak (most likely American) and then rested for another year in Silver Oak wineries’ ex-Cabernet Sauvignon American oak barrels. You can see how much the barrel affects the tonality of the tequila, giving it a rich coppery hue.

Here is what Ricardo Gamarra, owner and Master distiller of AsomBroso Tequila, has to say about this process: “I have rested my Tequila in barrels from around the world; from Bordeaux, France to the finest Port wineries in Portugal, to Tennessee, producing award-winning Anejo’s unlike anything the world has seen. We chose to approach Silver Oak because of their attention to detail in producing only one varietal of wine using American Oak barrels instead of French Oak.” 

Asombroso The Collaboration (80 proof)
Visual: Deep burnished copper.
Nose: Immediate vanilla bean with a secondary red wine depth.
Taste: Surprisingly light in character with an elegant mouthfeel.  The tequila’s heat has toned down considerably here.  The addition of the Cab Sauv oak is intensely interesting.  The blended flavors are unlike anything I’ve ever had.  I’d almost go so far to say that this is very much like a cocktail.
Finish: The winey notes go on for quite some time, with the tequila adding a warmth and sparkle on the palate.  Again, an unusual pairing, but one that works in small doses.
Overall: A tequila that works as an after dinner drink, much in the same way that a dry sherry might.  A little goes a long way, which is good since you’re looking at a $150 shot.  (Please don’t do a shot of this, but rather sip slowly from a snifter).
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Asombroso

GSN Review: Tres Agaves Tequila & Organic Margarita Mixers

GroupShot_Wht_Organic_ColorChangeEven though Tres Agaves tequila is a relatively new product on the market, it is crafted at one of the oldest distilleries in Jalisco, Mexico; Destiladora Azteca de Jalisco.  As well, they have won some outstanding industry awards from the likes of Paul Pacult’s Ultimate Beverage Challenge and Ultimate Cocktail Challenge.

Their margarita mixer is a blend of organic lime juice, organic agave nectar grown in Jalisco and filtered water.  Simple, yet the only organic version on the market.  Trend setting.

So, with these two products in hand, how does their brand name Margarita stand up?  Read on….

Tres Agaves Silver (80 proof)
Visual: Crystal.
Nose: Fresh, lively and strong agave body.
Taste: Exceptionally smooth, round and creamy, yet at the same time full of bright, vegetal pepperiness. The whole flavor moves from one end of the spectrum to the other.  The mouthfeel is beautiful and the agave is done to perfection.  Quite lovely and certainly a standout in the blanco category.
Finish: Medium long with fresh flavor of pressed agave aged to the peak of the character imparted by the wood.
Overall: Summer in a glass.  This is the kind of tequila you want to take home and introduce to your mother. 😉
GSN Rating: A+

Tres Agaves Organic Margarita Mix (non-alcoholic)
Overall:  Used as specified on the bottle’s label, the Margarita with Tres Agaves Silver tasted fine, but without the essential oils found in fresh-squeezed limes, it has a somewhat one dimensional taste.    I was also surprised at the serving suggestions which calls for the drink to be served on the rocks in a old-fashioned glass.  I appreciated the overall flavor, and the organic ingredients, but would always make it fresh if at all possible.  Barring that, this is one of the best mixes I’ve tasted.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Tres Agaves