Although my experience with tequila is mostly limited to cocktails and a few tasting lessons on my honeymoon in Cancun, I am never one to shy away from a challenge. So when Corralejo Tequila asked Bourbon & Banter to review their Reposado I was only too happy to answer the call of duty. Since I have tasted far fewer tequilas than bourbons in my life, this review will be based more on my personal tastes than on how closely it meets the platonic ideal of a reposado tequila.
One significant difference between tequila and bourbon is how much of the flavor comes from the mash, and how little comes from the barrel. A reposado tequila is one that has been “rested” in the barrel for between 2 and 12 months. Instead of counting on the barrel for flavor, tequila uses the core of a fully mature blue agave plant and roasts to give tequila it’s unique and distinctive flavor. Corralejo slow roasts their agave for 27 hours in a traditional clay oven to bring out the most flavor and then is aged just four months in the barrel. The barrels are crafted from three types of wood including French, American, and Mexican oak.
I did not know going into this that Corralejo was such a historical name in tequila. Hacienda Corralejo was founded in 1755 and was the first estate in Mexico to produce tequila as a commercial venture. Corralejo is the only distillery to use the Charentais method of distillation. It is the same distillation process used in making French cognac. According to the facts sheet that Corralejo included with my bottle, this method allows for capturing more of the aroma and flavors that are so distinctive to Corralejo tequila. But how does the final product taste to drink? Let’s get right down to it.
CORRALEJO TEQUILA REVIEW
Proof: 80 proof / 40% ABV
Age: 4 months
How I Drank It: Neat, in a Glencairn Whisky Glass.
Nose: Honey | Pepper | Baked Pear
Taste: Mint | Honey | Citrus | Butter
Full Flavor Description: In most of our reviews this is the part where we discuss the burn, aka, the finish. Tequila is very different to me. I don’t get a lot of finish that lingers like I do with bourbon. What I do get stays at the front of my mouth and with very little in the back. One thing I noticed about this tequila; it has a buttery taste and mouthfeel that I usually only associate with whiskey. I feel it on the sides of my mouth and the back of my tongue. On the front of it is a green spice taste, mostly mint and a bit of citrus, with delightful notes of honey and vanilla. Honestly the more I drink of this, the more I like it. In fact, I am tempted to keep “reviewing” this bottle until I can’t type straight.
Neat, Shoot or Cocktail: I don’t get the impression that even serious tequila tasters add water or ice to their tequila. Good tequila is smooth and had a ton of subtle flavors so adding water or ice would kill that. Bad tequila is bad enough that even ice won’t mask it. You need salt and lime for that. The in-between tequilas are what you want to be mixing in your cocktails.
So how does Corralejo Tequila stack up?
I have been sipping it neat, and I am very happy about it. But just to make sure I made a cocktail with it. The cocktail was called “And to All a Goodnight” from Imbibe Magazine. Fittingly it called for both bourbon and tequila. It was delicious, in the family of a Manhattan flavors but fruitier and somehow more ethereal. But I still like Corralejo neat. I think a lot of tequilas could have done well in the cocktail, but there aren’t many that I’ve enjoyed sipping this much. Don’t you dare shoot it.
Share With: If you have friends who don’t enjoy drinking spirits neat then you probably don’t need to bother with them. And if you have hardcore whiskey-or-die friends they probably won’t be won over. Tequila is a distinctive spirit, and I respect that. But just about anyone else should love this tequila. Just be careful about sharing with too many people. As I have discovered, it goes down easy and quickly.
Worth The Price: At around $35 a bottle I can safely say yes. I know it can be hard for whiskey drinkers to pay that much for a spirit that is only aged four months but remember, the plant itself has to be 8-10 years old before harvesting. You are getting your money’s worth.
Bottle, Bar or Bust: Get a bottle. You probably spent twice as much last week on a bottle of bourbon you were vaguely curious about so go head take this one home too.