Entertainment | Restaurants & Dining | September 2009
|Mexico's Luxury Tequilas|
James Raiswell - AskMen.com
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Tequila’s popularity has soared since the turn of the century, so much so that it became the spirit that saw the greatest increase in its production volume in the U.S. in 2006. That’s not bad for a drink that was traditionally swilled by Mexican farmers and peasants.
Margaritas and "tequila cruda" have both helped tequila’s popularity, but just as rum, gin, vodka, and whisky distillers are gaining momentum, tequila manufacturers are increasingly looking to produce the best possible bottles of their product in an effort to cash in on the luxury spirits market as well. With that in mind, we’ve selected five of the best bottles of luxury tequilas on the market today. These are the best of the best - don’t you dare serve them with salt and a slice of lime.
Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Reposado Tequila
It won’t take you long to see why Milagro’s Select Barrel Reserve Reposado was awarded a double gold medal at a 2007 San Francisco spirit selection.
|$76/750 ml bottle|
This luxury tequila is crafted from handpicked agave and triple distilled for the best depth of flavor, character and unparalleled smoothness. After distillation, the spirit is aged for three years in French single-oak barrels before being bottled in unique hand-blown crystal bottles with agave plants blown into the bottom of the glass. In this case, luxury may be an understatement.
In the glass, look for a warm and full-bodied spirit with a pale straw color. You’ll pick up notes of sweet honey and dried flowers on the nose, and flavors of honey, toast, peppery spice, and prune on the tongue.
Gran Centenario Leyenda Extra Anejo Tequila
Before even tasting this bottle, you should know that it is one of the first tequilas in the world to receive the “Extra Anejo” designation. And because this luxury tequila is made from only the best blue agave, expect a super-smooth, super-complex bottle of Mexico’s finest.
|$250/750 ml bottle|
The Gran Centenario producers marry the finest distilled spirits with 15-year-old tequila reserves to produce a tequila that is of unmatched richness and complexity. The blend - handcrafted in small batches to ensure quality - is then aged an average of four years in French Limousin oak barrels for additional depth of flavor.
Each bottle of this luxury tequila is packaged in a beautiful leather and burlap case and individually numbered, such is the small production run.
In the glass and on the tongue, this is one of those luxury tequilas that excites. Its dark amber color suggests a richness that’s backed by aromatic flavors of oak, maple, roasted almond, and cloves, complemented by a long, warm, cinnamon finish.
Gran Patron Burdeos Anejo Tequila
Not surprisingly, Las Vegas’ Patron Spirits Company makes its own ultra-premium bottle of tequila, the Gran Patron Burdeos Anejo.
|$500/750 ml bottle|
Made with only the finest blue agave and grown in the Jalisco Highlands, this luxury tequila is matured in a blend of American and French oak barrels and aged for at least 12 months. Before being bottled, the spirit is distilled a second time and aged a second time - for another 12 months - in Bordeaux barrels. This aging is said to be particularly important, as the barrels impart distinctive flavors of vanilla, raisins and dried fruit to the bottle.
Since Patron is all about the luxury market, it’s hardly a shock to see that this special bottle is produced in only very small quantities. But more than that, its packaging sets it further apart from the pack: this one is packaged in a box handcrafted from a single piece of black walnut. Inside you’ll find a crystal bottle that contains the spirit, a crystal stopper for resealing purposes and even a special corkscrew.
Patron’s master distiller, Francisco Alcaraz, isn’t shy about the quality of this bottle: "We triple distill this tequila to add a soft, velvet-smooth quality unlike any other spirit," he says.
Jose Cuervo 1800 Coleccion
Many weekend tequila drinkers doubtless know distiller Jose Cuervo on a first-name basis, but very few gentlemen know senor Cuervo well enough to appreciate his 1800 Coleccion, a bottle that stands above all others.
|$1,800/750 ml bottle|
Created by marrying a selection of the finest 100% blue agave vintages, the 1800 Coleccion is the crowning achievement of maestro tequilero Luis Yerenas, of the Jose Cuervo estate.
Production of the 1800 Coleccion is a slow and meticulous process, every stage of which - from the planting of the agaves to their selection and distillation - is overseen by senor Yerenas. The result is an ultra-premium bottle that’s double distilled and aged in charred barrels of French oak and blended with reserves as old as 50 years.
The 2006 bottling comes in a leather and burlap box that contains an empty pewter and Belgian-crystal decanter - that weighs four pounds by itself - specially designed by Mexican artist Alejandro Colunga.
In the glass, this one opens with a deep golden brown color. It starts smoky and smooth, with vanilla, orange citrus and clove aromas and tastes of butterscotch, cinnamon and pepper. The finish is uniquely smooth and lingers like no other.
There’s no doubt that this is one of the world’s finest tequilas, but don’t take our word for it - try it for yourself: sample a two-ounce serving of the Coleccion at Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco for $380.
Dos Lunas Grand Reserve
It might surprise you to learn that most expensive tequila in the world is not Mexican but Texan. Dos Lunas distillery owner Richard C. Poe II has said that he wants to create the world's best tequila - and in the form of the Dos Lunas Grand Reserve, his company may just have done that.
|$2,500/750 ml bottle|
Only the best agave from the Jalisco Highlands are selected for this luxury tequila, distilled for purity and aged for 10 years in Spanish sherry casks before being poured into hand-blown Baccarat decanters. The result is a tequila whose sophistication and refinement matches that of the best French cognacs.
There has only been 1,000 bottles of Dos Lunas Grand Reserve ever made. It’s as good as it is rare, which is why it’s secured in a lockable case that comes with its own special key.
back to Mexican peasants, tequila has come a long way in the past 200 or so years. Who, then, would have ever considered that the best tequilas would one day stand beside the best rums, gins, vodkas, and whiskys?