Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cazadores Anejo tequila

What do I know about tequila? I'm northern Albertan born, from a family of Irish farmers which is about as far removed from the state of Jalisco, Mexico and the art of growing agave as can be imagined.

   Or is it???

   Agave growing really is an art; just ask the jimador who spend up to 12 years raising the plants to produce only the sweetest nectar. These men and women will put the sweat of their brows (literally) into their craft day in and day out... watching, waiting and tending their flocks with care. And the artisans in this region have been honing their craft not for years, or decades, but for centuries leaning on a millennium.

   Yes indeed, when the Spaniards came across in the 1500's they found the locals already celebrating a history of at least 300 years of distillation with the agave plant. "Yikes" thought the Spaniards, "how can we make any money off of that?" and so they promptly outlawed the practice. Well, the years went by and the Spaniards began to see their stocks of Spanish brandy dwindling and then the local fire-water looked pretty good! Much as you can imagine, Spaniards then allowed the local distilling (which never really stopped) and took a vested interest in it. This led to better technical work, and even to the process of aging the distillate (modest as it may have been).

   It makes sense then, that the Mexican government would stand behind their cultural history and put forward laws in conjunction with the Consejo Regulador de Tequila.  These laws have been enacted to protect the Appellation of Tequila; the very spirit of the drink and the manner in which it is perceived world-wide. Those of you reading this with a basic wine-knowledge will recognize that these artisans are following in the footsteps of craftspeople from all corners of the globe, whether they be cheese-makers in England or wineries in New Zealand. "There can be no tequila without agave!" said one of the early pioneers in the industry.

   And so we get to the part in the story about Cazadores  distillery. Well these guys know what they're on about, and that's for sure. Ok, maybe some would call them a little nuts when they play Mozart to the tequila as it ferments. Err... play music to the drink? Heck yea, and they're not even the first to do it! I've known winemakers who play symphonies to their wine as they mature (a nod to Emiliana in Chile )

   Cazadores ( ) takes every step in production seriously whether it be the raising of the agave, the grinding of the plants to facilitate production of the spirit, or the maturation process. The company has decided upon American white oak for a sweeter style of matured tequila, and though the lightly charred barrels are good for 7 years or longer, Cazadores use them for only 4 to ensure a consistent level of flavor in each batch.

   So what is the end result of all this doting? Don't take my word for the finesse of this premium tequila at a seriously competitive price, the proof (as always) is in the glass my friends.

Cazadores tequila Anejo
$45.99, 92+ Points

spirit:   100% blue agave  tequila
region:   highlands of Los Altos in Jalisco, Mexico
distillation type:   stainless steel pot still
distillation times:  twice distilled
maturation type:   small American white oak barrels
ABV:   40%
  • visual:   immediate appeal and easy to see the American oak at play, this has light amber-pale straw coloring
  • nose:   light caramel and vanilla tones, soft floral aromas... reminiscent of Caribbean styled rum (due in part to the maturation process)
  • palate:   medium+ concentration of flavors very similar to the nose with more emphasis on ripe stonefruit and exotics (kumquat/pineapple), some florals and a strong carry-through of that vanilla tone. Alcohol is present but approachable, structure is good but the persistence is mediocre (the only short-fall)... 
  • conclusion:   a great way to get introduced to upper-tier tequila, this has structure, balance and finesse and the only thing limiting it from being a 95+ point spirit is the lack of persistence on the palate. Excellent value for $45!

    And so an end to my first tasting notes on tequila... it's funny how we can all end up with prejudices and writers are certainly no exception! A few years ago I never would have thought that I would be putting great tequilas into the same category as fine cognac or extra-aged rums but I was wrong. The premium and ultra-premium tequilas that I have tasted recently are smooth, supple, full of deep, rich and nuanced flavors. They are every bit as "sophisticated" as their counterparts from any part of the globe. France included.

As always, I look forward to your comments and questions.

CINCIN~!!!     SLAINTE~!!!     CHEERS~!!!

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