- DISTILLER: Part of the Jose Cuervo brand family and bottled in Jalisco, Mexico.
- RECIPE: 100% blue agave, from mature Blue Weber plants, 8 to 14 years old
- AGE: 14-36 Months
- PROOF: 80 (40% ABV)
- MSRP: $39.99
- BUY ONLINE: Binny’s
NOSE: Vanilla | Caramel | Banana
TASTE: Light Cinnamon | Candied Pears | Butterscotch | Sweet Oak | Caramelized Agave
FINISH: A burst of creamy agave quickly gives way to a sweet, lingering finish rich with caramelized fruit and banana bread. Cocoa powder mixed with oak spice remains on the tongue for 30-60 seconds, with just a tingle of heat.
SHARE WITH: Bourbon or whiskey lovers who are always looking for something new, but have little experience with aged “Añejo” tequila. This is a great transition bottle between traditional whiskeys-especially bourbon-and the growing tequila and mezcal scene. Its thick, creamy mouthfeel, sweet overtones, and finish full of warm spices are entirely reminiscent of bourbon, and yet so very different. The sip-ability will make a believer out of even your most snobbish bourbon friends.
WORTH THE PRICE: This bottle’s price point is aimed squarely at the middle shelf of the American spirit consumer, and for my money that makes it underpriced. This bottle stacks up with—or outshines—other premium and ultra-premium Añejo and Extra Añejo bottles that cost two or three times as much, including others within the Jose Cuervo house of brands.
Even better, this is a more authentic look at an aged tequila than the burgeoning (and overpriced) trend of aging tequila in used bourbon barrels from famed brands like Old Rip Van Winkle – an interesting idea, to be sure, but one which is far more about marketing than taste.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: I endorse trying this at a bar if you can. Trying before you buy is always recommended for something new, which this might be even for tequila lovers. I also love the aeration that you get from a bottle that’s been open for a while, which opens up the proper flavors. All that said, at this price, buying a bottle even just to try it for the first time isn’t going to set you back much. If you see one on a shelf (which it won’t be in many states), I say go for it.
OVERALL: Aged tequila has a long and strange history. Of the major spirits, barrel aging has caught on most slowly with tequila. In North America, this is partly due to its reputation as a party drink-ideal for shots or mixers and little else, much like vodka. The brand name of this particular bottle-1800-comes from the very year tequila was first aged in oak barrels, well over 200 years ago. So the history is there, even if the appetite hasn’t been.
To this day, most brands distribute only their “silver” (unaged) or “gold” (reposado-“rested” in barrels for less than a year) varieties, between which the difference in taste is nominal at best. 1800 is no different, distributing their silver and reposado in all 50 states, but saving their Añejo for select markets.
I see this limited distribution as a hopeful sign. Even though 1800 is a supermarket brand, they’re controlling where 1800 Añejo winds up, meaning they’re making sure they get it right each time rather than sacrificing quality in the name of making as much as possible. That attention to quality is evident in the bottle, which is one of the best you can find at a reasonable price. It’s a bottle which honors the history of the liquor within, and that’s worth celebrating.
Using 100% Weber blue agave, picked at their peak — anywhere from 8-12 years old — Añejo is aged in French Oak barrels for a minimum of 14 months. Its finish is described as spicy and well rounded with flavors of toasted oak, vanilla and butterscotch. This deep, luxurious tequila is ideal for sipping.