There seems to be an innate romantic quality to the production of spirits. The long-standing traditions, attention to detail, and passion of those involved in the craft are unrivaled. Tequila has done one of the best jobs at holding onto its rustic heritage. Jimadors chopping at agave plants with their coa blades and piñas being roasted in a brick oven are examples of easily conjured images when the topic of tequila arises. In order to experience the pure essence of the agave it may be best to start your exploration of tequila with those known as blanco.
Casa Noble has garnered much attention in the past several years. Everything they do seems to be about enhancing quality. They were one of the first certified organic tequilas. Their agave is allowed to grow for 10-14 years before being harvested. A natural yeast is used for fermentation followed by triple-distillation. The result is an incredibly vibrant tequila with spicy pepper and floral aromas. The flavors expand on the palate and include more pepper along with lemon, vanilla, honey, and rhubarb. The experience is capped off with an ultra-smooth finish that hints at almond-butter.
Milagro makes use of the fact that even a blanco tequila can rest in oak for a short period of time. Their Barrel Reserve Silver spends 30 days in American and French oak. This process imbues the triple-distilled spirit with a whole new range of flavors. Cinnamon joins the classic peppery nose. In the mouth, the oak influence is seen even more through flavors of marshmallow and rich vanilla which are a powerful offset to the crisp citrus and herbal notes of the tequila itself. It doesn’t hurt that this product is packaged in a beautiful bottle with the shape of an agave plant blown into the base.
Bertha González Nieves, co-founder of Casa Dragones, was the first woman to earn the title of Maestra Tequilera and her expertise shines through in this premium blanco. This is a tequila that takes terroir seriously. Everything from soil composition to water chemistry have been taken into consideration. Bright aromas of grapefruit and green apple eschew the freshness herein. Cloves, mint, pepper, and almond all find a place in the flavor profile of this masterpiece.
The secret behind Excellia’s blanco is that it spends a few weeks in Grand Cru Sauternes wine casks and Cognac barrels. This unique twist adds mature flavors not usually seen in a blanco. Clove, tobacco, brioche and honeyed pear embody the innate sophistication of the spirit. Rich notes of lemon custard, golden apple, and leather fill the creamy body before it dries to a finish of spices and jasmine.
ArteNOM is driven by one core concept and that is where the NOM in its name comes from. NOM stands for Norma Oficial Mexicana which is the unique four-digit code assigned to tequila distilleries by the Mexican government. ArteNOM specializes in sourcing small-batch tequilas from individual distilleries that may otherwise never leave Mexico. 1579 is a blanco from the El Pandillo Distillery in Jesús-María, the highest elevation agave region in Jalisco. It opens with roasted agave, citrus, and earth that fluidly transition into flavors of pepper and mint. All of this brings a brisk quality to the oily mouthfeel. ArteNOM’s decision to highlight single distilleries pays off in this expressive blanco.
An overproof tequila may seem like a bad idea but Tapatio delivers a product that you may be surprised to find comes in at 55% ABV – maybe it’s the 6 months it spends resting in stainless steel. Regardless, this is smooth and can undoubtedly be sipped neat. A bouquet of roasted padron peppers, white pepper, lemon, lime, and white chocolate is here atop pure agave character. Lemongrass, chili, black pepper, toast, and crème brulee accompany a pleasant warmth that coyly hints at the strength of this blanco. Did I mention this is packaged in 1L bottles instead of the standard 750 ml?