Start your tequila-drinking engines! This weekend is National Margarita Day, so get your salt, limes, and lips ready!
I love a good “food holiday” (proof here; here; and here, in case you don’t believe me), especially when it involves wine and/or cocktails. So, with the desire of fully “getting into the spirit” of this, well, spirit-fueled holiday, I decided to get to the bottom of margarita making by attending a tequila tasting hosted by Herradura Tequila. What can I say? I’m committed to my craft.
The tasting was 1 of a series of events for Herradura’s “Tequila Appreciation Society,” and if the goal was to get more people to appreciate the spirit like the name of the indicates, then mission accomplished.
IN THE TEQUILA BEGINNING
The objective of the night was to increase guests’ appreciation quotient through both the palate and the mind, so there was a great educational component which included a cool, live demonstration with a “Jimador.” Here are some knowledge nugget highlights:
- Agave was once considered worthless until, as legend has it, lightening struck the plant and changed the aroma to that of cooked sweet potato. The “cooking” of the agave from the heat of the lightening transformed it’s taste, texture, and aroma making it desirable to consume.
- The spirit is named after the Tequila Indians who are attributed with discovering it.
- Up until the 1800s, tequila was known as “mescal wine.”
- Unlike grapes that have a season of harvest, agave is harvested almost every single day.
- It takes 12 pounds of agave to make 1 liter of tequila.
THE “HOW TO” OF TASTING
After getting some history of the spirit it was time to taste, and I was intrigued by how tasting tequila is similar to how you should taste wine. Guests were instructed to analyze the tequila by sight and smell before actually taking a sip. Check out the image to see exactly how it’s done:
LET THE TASTING BEGIN
Every table was set with three types of tequila for us to taste, and we were lead through the tasting process by Ambassador Aceves.
First up was the Silver (Blanco). This clear tequila smelled a little bit of vanilla and baking spices. It was sweet and a bit spicy, especially at the back of the throat. Abassador Aceves said that, because the tequila spends time in a barrel, it makes it a good sipping tequila. I liked this one, but I would prefer it in a margarita or other tequila cocktail as opposed to just sipping it.
Next was the Reposado. Reposado is an aged tequila and Herradura ages theirs 9 months longer than is required. The beautiful light copper color comes naturally from the wood barrels the spirit is aged in. This one smelled like sweet, dried fruit; had a more pronounced vanilla than that of the Silver; and had an almost creamy aroma. It was smooth and warming on the throat, and I thought this one was really delightful.
Lastly we tasted the Añejo. Añejo tequila is aged the longest and is touted as the top of the line. This dark copper tequila was very fragrant, but what I liked most were the unexpected flavors of bananas and cocoa. It has some sweet smokiness along with a bit of spice. It was definitely the most refined of the 3.
After tasting all of the different tequilas, in my opinion the moral of the tequila tasting story is that, for margarita making, I actually prefer Reposado. The smoothness and fruity flavors make for a preferred margarita in my book. While some will argue that Silver tequila is perfectly fine for margaritas (and it is), or that using Reposado makes it unnecessarily more expensive, as a self professed cocktail snob I will always pick an elevated drinking experience over an ordinary one any day of the week. Using Reposado, with all of it’s rich layers of flavor, just makes for a more pleasurable–and tastier–margarita.
I may be a cocktail snob but I’m no dummy so, trust me, I will drink a margarita placed in front of me regardless of what type of tequila it’s made with.
It light of the fact that we’re celebrating National Margarita Day, it would be no bueno if I didn’t provide you with a margarita recipe or two, right? Check out Herradura’s “Silver Coin Margarita” recipe:
If you like your margaritas more exotic with an extra fruity, herbaceous kick, try this luscious recipe for a Roasted Blueberry Basil Margarita.
If you’d like to delve into tequila even more, check out an article I did for CultureMap Houston a couple of years ago when I attended a tequila tasting which included Pepe Z Tequilla; Casa Noble; and Deleon.