13 Tequilas You Need To Try Header

13 Tequilas You Need To Try

In Tequila Reviews by Brent Joseph2 Comments

The New Hampshire State Liquor Commission regulates the sale of alcohol in the state of New Hampshire. New Hampshire is one of 18 control states in the nation where the government directly controls the distribution of alcoholic beverages as well as being responsible for the regulation of alcoholic beverages. An important source of revenue for the state, the Commission contributes over 100 million dollars to the General Fund each year. Over the past few years, the NHLC has really stepped up their barrel selection program by hand selecting barrels various bourbons and tequilas. Last year I was lucky enough to be asked to sample nine barrel aged tequilas that were hand-selected exclusively for the New Hampshire Liquor Commission. Read my previous post on that experience here.

This year the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission sent me 13 different barrel selections to review. For the safety of my marriage and my palate, I broke these down into 3 different tasting sessions but have chosen to post them all together in this one post.

Bottles from all of the barrels reviewed are exclusively available in New Hampshire at NH Liquor & Wine Outlet locations. Visit www.liquorandwineoutlets.com to locate a store and search for product availability.

Don Valente Licorera Silver Bottle

Don Valente Licorera Silver

  • Age: Unaged
  • Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
  • Price: Not provided by NHLC
  • Nose: This smells like your typical tequila but with heavy notes of Apple and Pear. Hints of Lemongrass appear on the nose once I had a few sips.
  • Taste: Initially very smooth with a surprisingly long finish on my palate. Not much agave present. Slight Black Pepper on the tongue.
  • Finish/Thoughts: Overall this was good for a Blanco but not anything spectacular. It was very smooth with a pleasant finish of Black Pepper but it was overshadowed by alcohol heat. I was not familiar with this brand prior to this sample. I had never tried it or heard of it before these samples arrived.

Don Valente Licorera Reposado Bottle

Don Valente Licorera Reposado

  • Age: 3 months in White Oak
  • Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
  • Price: Not provided by NHLC
  • Nose: Similar to the Blanco with the same Apple notes. I pick up a bit of Fresh Cut Grass as well. A faint hint of Oak/Wood may be present as well. I also got hints of Cotton Candy once I had a few sips.
  • Taste: This one opens with a hint of Butterscotch with some Vanilla lingering on the palate during exhale. There was almost no alcohol burn.
  • Finish/Thoughts: There was not much of a finish on this one. There was no alcohol burn but there was a slight tingle of cinnamon on the back of the tongue and it was much more enjoyable than the Blanco. This one is more complex and much easier to sip if you have a hard time dealing with the alcohol burn of tequilas.

Cobalto Tequila Blanco Bottle

Cobalto Tequila Blanco

  • Age: Unaged
  • Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
  • Price: Not provided by NHLC
  • Nose:Alcohol notes. Lemongrass and Agave. This smells like your typical Blanco. Nothing out of the ordinary.
  • Taste: This one is a bit of an outlier for me. It is not at all what you would expect in a tequila. The taste is a bit difficult to describe. I get a light sweetness of almond/almond extract that I’ve never picked up before in a tequila. As strange as it sounds I also get a hint of liquid soap.
  • Finish/Thoughts: The finish was much longer than I expected with only a little bit of alcohol heat. Overall this one really threw me for a loop. I had never heard of this brand and I was excited to try something new. I am having a hard time trying to figure out what the person who selected this barrel was going for. I am guessing that this barrel was very unique and “off profile” and therefore offers something completely different to the consumer. This could be interesting as an after dinner sipper paired with the right dessert.

Tierra Azteca Tequila Anejo Bottle

Tierra Azteca Tequila Anejo

  • Age: Not stated, aged in White Oak
  • Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
  • Price: Not provided by NHLC
  • Nose: This smells really nice. I get lots of Butterscotch and Floral scents. Possibly some Rose Petal too.
  • Taste: You can really tell that the Oak has mellowed this tequila. That’s a good thing. There was still a bit more Agave than I’d normally prefer in an Anejo.
  • Finish/Thoughts: This tequila had a great amber/honey color to it. There was a slight hint of Mint on the finish. I was looking forward to trying this one the most out of this group of five since I usually prefer Anejos and the fact that this was a new brand that was unfamiliar to me. Unfortunately I can’t say that this one was very memorable in any sort of way. I was a bit disappointed in the lack of depth and complexity with this one, especially for being aged the longest.

Patron Reposado Bottle

Patron Reposado
(Barrel #2)

  • Age: “At least 2 months,” then aged in a variety of barrels for three to five months
  • Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
  • Price: $56.99
  • Nose: Very dry, smells like a white wine/Chardonnay. Citrus notes with not much alcohol vapor.
  • Taste: Very mild. Light and pleasant. This was not at all what I was expecting when I saw that it was Patron. The citrus is very much present on the palate but there was not much on the agave front.
  • Finish/Thoughts: There was a bit of black pepper on the back of my tongue. The finish lasted much longer than I thought it would but there was not much else though. Overall this one was a bit of a surprise. I am usually not a fan of Patron in general but this was a good one. It stood out to me more for being mild and approachable when compared to most tequilas. This one was very nice.

Patron Anejo
(Barrel #71)

  • Age: Aged 12-15 months in small white oak barrels
  • Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
  • Price: $61.99
  • Nose:Oak and Agave are very present up front with some vanilla or perhaps coconut as well.
  • Taste: This is by far the best Patron that I’ve ever had. No alcohol burn whatsoever. This is a vanilla bomb that coats your palate. There is some honey and/or brown sugar flavors that follow the explosion of vanilla. For an aged tequila, I didn’t get much wood on the palate.
  • Finish/Thoughts: This one is a buy for sure. It isn’t typical for a tequila as far as smell and agave flavors go but this is a tequila that goes down smooth and easy. It also has a ton of flavor. This would be an amazing sipper and would also pair extremely well with a sweet or caramel flan for dessert. Somebody got it right with this barrel.

Adictivo Plata Bottle

Adictivo Plata

  • Age: 3 weeks
  • Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
  • Price: Not provided by NHLC
  • Nose: Very bright and fresh nose. Mineral and a slight vegetal scent.
  • Taste: Sweet and viscous. This almost tastes like syrup. It also has a pretty thick mouthfeel. Burnt sugar and simple syrup flavors.
  • Finish/Thoughts: This is basically simple syrup with some alcohol burn. This is really an amazing tequila, but it’s definitely not a “normal” tequila. If you were to try this blind you wouldn’t guess it was a tequila. I’d never tried this brand before but I will now. It’s awesome, go buy a bottle from this barrel!

Adictivo Extra Anejo Bottle

Adictivo Extra Anejo

  • Age: 7 years in French Oak Barrels
  • Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
  • Price: $89.99
  • Nose: Lots of wood. There is a slight barrel funk as well. I can’t really place it but something is there after you pick up the wood notes.
  • Taste: Vanilla, and a LOT of it. Cane sugar. Very sweet.
  • Finish/Thoughts: No burn at all. A very short finish but the sweetness lingers on and on. It really stays on your palate. This isn’t something that I can see myself having much more than a few sips of. It’s that sweet. Very unexpected and very different. This is a strange tequila. I thought that the Plata was unique but the Extra Aged tequilas from Adictivo were just so sweet. I actually struggled to finish the samples (that’s not normal for me). This one leaves a distinct sweet sugar coating on your lips. By far and away the strangest tequila(s) I’ve ever tasted.

Adictivo Extra Anejo Cristalino Bottle

Adictivo Extra Anejo Cristalino

  • Age: Aged 7 years in French Oak
  • Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
  • Price: $98.99
  • Nose: This has a much more rounded nose. Roasted Agave, Vanilla, and Oak
  • Taste: Pure Sugar Water. Vanilla and Cane Sugar. Is this tequila? Is it supposed to taste like this? Almost no burn or alcohol vapor.
  • Finish/Thoughts: I’ve never seen anything like this before. A pretty much crystal clear and silver (in appearance) tequila that has been barrel aged for 7 years? What kind of magic is this? What is this stuff? It is super sweet. Is it meant to be sweet like this or was this a crazy outlier that was so off profile that it was chosen for that specific reason? I’ve never tried anything like this. It’s sweeter than Schnapps. Basically this is a $100 bottle of Mexican Schnapps.

Herradura Double Barrel Reposado Bottle

Herradura Double Barrel Reposado
(Barrel #1560)

  • Age: Aged 11 months in toasted oak barrels and then an additional month in a new barrel.
  • Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
  • Price: $49.99
  • Nose: Oak and Agave with a faint hint of Lemongrass
  • Taste: Flat and metallic. Slightly bitter, almost like Wormwood. There is also a bit of vanilla.
  • Finish/Thoughts: This one has a bit of a finish to it but unfortunately you have to drink it to get to the finish. This barrel was a bit disappointing to me. I had high hopes for it. I usually like the tequila that Herradura produces but this is one that I just can’t get behind.

Herradura Double Barrel Reposado Bottle

Herradura Double Barrel Anejo
(Barrel #1558)

  • Age: Aged 24 months in toasted oak barrels and then an additional month in a new barrel.
  • Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
  • Price: $89.99
  • Nose: Oak, Agave, and Pepper There was a slight hint of cayenne on the nose.
  • Taste: Roasted Agave and Vanilla.
  • Finish/Thoughts: This tequila was a bit more typical of what I expect when I drink Herradura. It was a bit on the sweeter side. It had a very short finish as well. I did prefer this to the barrel of Reposado but unfortunately this one also falls a bit short of a must buy for me.

Casa Noble Reposado Bottle

Casa Noble Reposado (Barrel #88)

  • Age: 364 Days in French white oak barrels
  • Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
  • Price: Not provided by NHLC
  • Nose: This one has a very sweet and bright nose. Peach, Lime, Raw Agave, and a hint of salt all mix nicely. This smells like a high end craft Margarita that you’d order in a fancy cocktail bar served by a hipster wearing a vest and a bowtie. The nose on this is really nice.
  • Taste: Very smooth and mild. Not much agave. A bit of vanilla mixed with some of the tannins from the oak.
  • Finish/Thoughts: A nice mild finish that continues to warm the palate for almost 2 minutes. After the first few sips the nose changed and I picked up some aromas of mineral oil. This has a really nice light amber color due to the extra time in the barrel. Most Reposados are “rested” for about 6 months but this tequila is aged for 364 days. Just enough time to not be classified as an Anejo. I’m not positive but I would guess that this is one of the oldest aged Reposados available. I’m in love with the nose. The taste was a bit of a disappointment when compared to the nose but I still really like it. The finish was much longer than I expected, especially when compared to the smooth and mild flavors.

Casa Noble Extra Anejo Single Barrel Bottle

Casa Noble Extra Anejo Single Barrel

  • Age: 5 years in lightly charred French white oak barrels
  • Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
  • Price: Not provided by NHLC
  • Nose: Hershey’s chocolate syrup. I’m dead serious. That is all I get and not in a bad way.
  • Taste: Hints of cocoa powder hit me first. The oak also stands out a bit but there is also a caramel sweetness that shines through on the finish.
  • Finish/Thoughts: I thought the color would be much darker than the Reposado due to the additional four years in the lightly charred barrels but it was close to the exact same color. That was just an observation because who really cares what it looks like, you’re reading this to see what it tastes like. First off, if I had more than just a small sample, I for sure would be trying this in some coffee. It just seems like it’s made for it. Normally I’d never even dream of adding even ice to a high end spirit like this but I can’t stop thinking that it would be perfect together. The finish wasn’t nearly as long as the Casa Noble Reposado. It faded pretty quickly but lasted about 45 seconds. This is a really good tequila. I tried it blindly so I wasn’t aware of the increased age and premium price. It’s pretty unique and doesn’t have the normal agave notes that you get from most tequilas. This one is a special one. If you’re tequila fan and appreciate extra aged or ultra-premium tequilas, I’m betting that you are going to really enjoy this one. This would also be a great after dinner sipper.
About the Author
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Brent Joseph

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Brent was born and raised in Indianapolis, IN. After graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in Journalism, he moved back to Indy where he eventually resurrected his family's brand of all beef kosher style hot dogs and opened a restaurant, King David Dogs, in downtown Indianapolis. When he's not juggling the many duties of an entrepreneur, he can usually be found relaxing at home with his wife, their twin boys, and their two dogs. Brent is a member of the Bourbon Society of Indianapolis, a BBQ enthusiast, and a cigar aficionado. Three things that are even better when enjoyed together with good friends. If Brent is not talking about bourbon, he's probably talking about sports, in particular, NFL football and Kansas Jayhawks basketball. You can follow his blog, BBQ and Bourbon here: http://bbqbourbon.tumblr.com/.

Comments

  1. Avatar

    FWIW – I find Casa Noble (and Don Julio, and the cheaper alternative, Milagro) to be overwhelming, syrupy and cloying, best mixed in a drink where you can cut the wall of flavor with citrus, and still have a strong tequila presence shine through. Patron Roca Reposado is the best stuff in the store, and incredibly complex – but bring many $$. For everyday, you really can’t beat Espolon Reposado or Gran Centenario Reposado, both ‘highland’ tequilas, complex and interesting enough to sip straight, eminently mixable, and easy on the wallet. Espolon Anejo is terrible, it’s finished in bourbon barrels, and smells and tastes like the melted ice in last night’s dirty glassware. Tequila should just be tequila. Just one jerk’s opinion.

  2. Steve Coomes

    I agree with some of both of your comments on those spirits. What’s interesting is opinions about tequila seem even more varied than those about bourbon. And given that there are something like 1,200 tequilas on the market, the variations naturally will increase. My take on Casa Noble, Joe, is opposite of yours. You’re right in that it leads sweet, but with time in the bottle, the sweetness falls off–precipitously so if one isn’t careful to drink it with regularity. (Whether that’s common to agave spirits or a product of such low proof (80), I’m not sure.) Brent, I also get some chocolate notes from the extra anejo Casa Noble, but not quite Hershey’s! Joe, you’re dead on with your remark about Patron Roca Reposado. It’s remarkably good, much more so than the very ordinary Patron regular line.

    All in all, great work, Brent. That’s a load of info you put together!

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