Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Tuesday Tasting: Mexican Spirits
Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we sample some spirits from south of the border.
The current issue of All About Beer magazine has a column I wrote about Mexican liquors. Tequila is a big part of the piece, but it does not stop there.
Mexico has a distilling heritage goes back hundreds of years, about 250 years before America’s native spirit – Bourbon – was born in Kentucky and not long after the earliest recorded Scotch was made. When Spanish Conquistadors arrived in what is now Mexico in the early 1500s they found the Aztecs gathering agave to make pulque, a fermented beverage used for ceremonies made from juice taken from the maguey agave shoots. Pulque – also called Octli – had been a part of the native culture for more than a thousand years. Before long the Spaniards starting distilling pulque and the early forms of Tequila emerged.
To qualify as Tequila the process must take place in the state of Jalisco around the town of Tequila, northwest of Guadalajara. Mezcal is also made from agave but does not have the same geographic restrictions. Sotol and Bacanora are close cousins of Tequila and mezcal. Sotol is made using the Dasylirion wild agave, while Bacanora, made in Sonora, uses the agave Yaquiana, also called the Pacifica agave.
Here are six of the spirits from Mexico that I tasted for the column:
Agavero Licor de Tequila: Amber color and slight herbal, medicinal nose. The flavor of this liqueur has agave notes and leans in the direction of a honey base. Coating mouth feel.
Chinaco Anejo Tequila: Light golden color with a superb earthy nose. Slightly sweet initial flavor, rounds out nicely with hints of grass and some berry notes at the finish.
Distinguido Anejo Tequila: Light amber color. Nice inviting aroma that combines earthy notes with toffee. This Tequila has been aged for three years, using some ex-Bourbon barrels in the process. The flavor is focused on peppery spice with hints of pralines around the edge.
Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol Reposado: Slight earthy nose, light gold color. The flavor has hints of smoke, grass and green vegetable notes.
Maestro Dobel Diamond: A blend of reposado, anjeo and extra anejo Tequilas, this clear spirit has a slightly peppery nose. The flavor offers hints of oak, spice and plum skins.
Tanteo Tropical: Infused with pineapple, guanabana and mango, along with jalapeno, the aroma of the Tequila is dominated by the mango. The flavor is a mix of flavors, slightly floral with spice and heat at the finish.