Michael here, with the fifth and final chapter of our 101 Achievements Tequila Tour 2013. (To catch yourself up, you can review some essential tequila facts by reading our tequila tasting primer; read up on our other reviews by perusing Act I, Act II, Act III, or Act IV of this wild, gallon-deep ride.)
One disclaimer for the road: Verde‘s monster wall of tequila inspired us to undertake this bouquet of achievements; however, we are not being paid by Verde to write about said wall, our reviews are solely our own opinions, and we buy the vast majority of our drinks ourselves. However, from time to time the awesome staff or the restaurant’s owner, Jeff, will buy us a taste — these will be duly noted.
And now, for the last time…tequila!
This final stretch will be, like a Silver Slugger’s spray chart, all over the place.
We’ll start with the tasty, cost-efficient Antiguo. A mid-range product from the Herradura people, we found the blanco to have a peppery, vegetal flavor. The reposado was smooth and cucumber-cool, with a hint of mint, while the añejo was creamy and nutty, like cashews in melted butter.
We also found Pueblo Viejo to be tasty and cost-effective. The blanco was smooth and polished, while the repo had a dense caramel, toffee tone. The añejo had a hint more fire than I’d expected, but it was still good; I think that’s what Fox was picking up when she noted, “I don’t know why but sunset with little clouds, lots of red.”
Also surprisingly decent was Cazadores. Even though the bottle looks sort of like that Deer Hunter video game you sometimes find at a redneck bar, we found the blanco to be pleasantly spicy and green, like peppered green beans; the repo was a little too sweet, like an off-brand Caramello, but the añejo struck a nice balance between the vegetal flavors found in the blanco and the sweetness of the reposado. (Also, the price point is quite good, so insert a “bang for your buck” pun here, if that’s your bag.)
Keeping on the animal theme, Siete Leguas was also a tasty treat. The blanco has a bit of bite at first, but smooths on the finish to reveal a slightly creamy, cherry tomato and bell pepper flavor; the reposado had some minerality and a touch of mole flavor (that’s chocolate mole, not tunneling mole). The añejo was way too sweet for our tastes, though — Fox wrote that it tasted like “boozy root beer and spicy cherry Coke.”
A little more costly, but quite good, was El Conde Azul. The blanco had a clean but sort of botanical character; the repo had notes of mint and pine; the añejo had a lovely gingerbread flavor that made my wife think of “snowflakes and ski lodges.”
To be truthful, we were not particularly big fans of Calle 23. The blanco was burny and metallic, like getting your tongue stuck to a pole in the winter; the repo had less burn but was bitter and cough syrup-like; the añejo was softer, but the aging still didn’t mask that syrupy quality — it just ladled a little honey on top.
Dulce Vida is a 100-proof tequila, and like the 110-proof Kah reposado we tasted earlier in the year, the alcohol shows. This is particularly true in the blanco, which is bitey, with a rubber and leather finish, and a flavor I can only describe as “singe.” The repo was a little better, with summer fruit coming out, and a toasty tone. The añejo brought different reactions; my wife thought it tasted like honey caramel crème brûlée, whereas I wrote down “whipped Tussin.”
Don Roberto looks like it’ll be suave and classy, but it’s suave and classy in the way that the Continental is. The blanco was cloyingly sweet, like a chocolate-covered Maraschino cherry; the repo had a more mellow sweetness, though still too sweet for our palate; the añejo was pleasant enough, but not really memorable.
Those are some of the three-expression flights we had on our way to finishing our tequila journey. However, since many of the tequilas left over in our adventure did not have three expressions available, we had some fun in building our own flights.
The Jose Cuervo Tradicional was okay, if a little underwhelming; the blanco had a salty, bitter greens flavor, like collard greens where someone picked out all the ham hocks before you got to it. The repo’s saltiness was a little more muted, with graham cracker and caramel, and a hint of spice. The Maestro Dobel blanco, on the other hand, was unusual because of its slightly sweet, vodka-like quality.
Sometimes, our flight-making led to some pretty mixed-bag results. For instance, the Diamante del Cielo shared some of the vodka-like qualities of the Maestro Dobel, with an astringence that’s sort of pronounced in the blanco, but tamped down below the surface in the repo. The Cruz, on the other hand? Well, I could leave things at the fact that their website refers to you as a CRUZader when you visit (barf). But I’ll go on; the blanco is boozy and rubbery with a harsh finish. As for the reposado, Fox wrote, “God, if I was fighting the Crusades for this I might quit.” Ouch.
The Espolón was a pleasant surprise, both in flavor and price point. The blanco was really easy drinking, surprisingly smooth; the reposado was slightly vegetal at the start, but rounded out with a creamy, caramel finish. But then we had to go and wreck things by adding on a taste of the reposado-only El Olvido. My wife’s note was: “Is this NyQuil? No, no, it’s not that good.” I thought that it was like chewing on an aspirin. Interestingly, El Olvido translates to oblivion, which is incidentally where the beverage is best stored.
We also tried Lunazul alongside a taste of Sauza Conmemorativo, Sauza’s new añejo tequila. The Lunazul had a smooth, snap pea flavor to its blanco, while the repo was warm with a flavor not unlike hay or dry grass. As for the Sauza Conmemorativo…my wife and I had a little disagreement. I liked it well enough, noting a slight astringency that gave way to a pleasant banana yogurt, parfait flavor; Fox wrote down “this is like a grody banana disaster whyyyy Sauza whyyyy.”
We actually had tasted the Casamigos reposado once before, as a gift from the manager, Megan. Here we tried both expressions, along with Don Pantaleón blanco. I liked the Casamigos, myself — the blanco tasted like sweet, cooked agave, while the repo was peppery and creamy, with a slight hint of sour cream. Fox, however, found them both to be too candy-like. We agreed quite strongly on the Don Pantaleón, though. Our verdict? They ought to rename it Donny Pants, because it tastes like New Jersey smells. Acrid, salty, and medicinal in flavor, the Donny Pants was judged by Fox like so: “Oops. I dropped a flower in my pickle juice. Better eat it!”
Every now and again, we would taste a single tequila on its own. Inocente blanco was a tasty one; we found it to be sweet with light minerality, almost dangerously easy-sipping.
Marquez de Valencia makes only this reposado, which was very desserty. Again, since I’m more amenable to the sweeter tequilas, I liked it better than Fox, who found it to taste like cotton candy. At least, that’s what I gather from her note: “DON’T GIVE YOUR HORSE COTTON CANDY HE WILL BE UP ALL NIGHT PLAYING HORSE UNO IT TAKES FOREVER THEY DON’T HAVE TOES.”
The above tequilas were ones we tasted all throughout the year. As with Act III, the remainder of this post will span a single, epic night of tequila tasting, in which we FINISHED. THE. WALL.
A few days before Christmas, we gathered some friends and took over a section of the Verde bar to finish all that remained of our tasting tour. We began with Olmeca Altos. In fact, owner Jeff joined us for a taste of the blanco (kindly purchasing our tastes) — the blanco was clean, with a hint of bitter greens. It was unassuming and unthreatening — a decent tequila to introduce to someone who might only remember the crap they drank in college. The reposado, though, wasn’t quite as good. Where the blanco tasted of greens, the repo was more like greens that had been left on the stove too long.
Our next tequila, Tres Generaciones, carried a similar surprise for us. The blanco and repo clearly went together; the blanco was sharp and a little minty, while the repo was like a more muted version of the same, reminding us both of the spearmint that grows wild in our yard. The añejo, though, was almost like it came from a different producer. It was kind of scotchy, but with banana layered in somewhere. Banana scotch? Why???
Corzo had a fairly unique quality to it. The blanco was salty, but also almost hoppy like beer; the reposado was the same, but with a little more polish. It was not bad, but not that great either.
We enjoyed the Azunia much more. The blanco had one of our favorite tequila qualities, that vegetal minerality we’ve grown to love — it tasted sort of like a romaine heart or perhaps kale. The repo was a little milder, with a slightly milky quality.
(After the Corzo and Azunia double-feature, I took a quick break to play “Edward Tequilahands.”)
Then along came Tequila 55. This was a blanco-añejo pair (no repo). The blanco was quite good, with a sweet, buttery quality you usually expect from a more aged tequila; the añejo, though, took that sweetness way too far, as noted by Fox: “This shit is like cotton candy in a balloon.”
I call this one “The Flight of the Misfire.” Here was my note for the Bracero blanco: “It’s Urkel’s fave!” That’s because the mofo tasted like warmed-over Swiss cheese. Just bizarre. I knew I needed something to cleanse my palate, and my memory, immediately. In that regard, I guess you could say the Tres Mujeres was quite useful. Because both expressions tasted like cleaning products. The blanco had several flavors going on: Pinesol on the nose, with notes of Fabuloso and wood paneling. The reposado? Straight up bleach. Color us cleansed!
With only one tequila left to taste, we worried that we were on the edge of disaster. Luckily, we’d saved ourselves a good one to finish the year.
El Tequileño: thank you! The blanco was a little bitter, but went down well; the reposado had your characteristic caramel and spice, while the añejo had a creamy, nutmeg finish that we both enjoyed quite a bit.
And with that…
We had conquered Verde’s wall of tequila!
Like the bad-ass conquerors we were, we obviously kept the skulls of our enemies. (Not really, we had to put them back on the shelf after the photo.)
But we did celebrate, having one last pair of our favorite flights:
You can find our reviews of those two yourself!
Thank you to all of our friends (fiends?) who joined us for our closing night. (Not all of you are pictured here, but all of you are loved!)
But most importantly of all…
Thank you to our instructors, gurus, friends…the awesome staff of Verde. Thank you to Cory & Rachael (pictured), and also to Hannah, Andrew, Jason, Megan, and Jeff. It was a terrific year!