The surest way to assess the attributes of a tequila, mezcal, sotol or bacanora is to sample the distiller’s blanco, or unaged version. Barrel aging has a profound affect on these spirits. Over time, wood imparts tannins that soften and mellow the spirit. The unaged spirits of Mexico are unadulterated and typically bottled fresh from the still. When well crafted they’re vibrant, bursting with flavor and best represent the compelling qualities of these spirits.
So in case you’ve missed the initial fanfare over their release, here is our take on new blancos destined for the fast track.
123 Organic Blanco Tequila — Here’s an artisanal brand that respects Mother Earth. It’s made in the Lowlands of Jalisco at Tequila Las Americas [NOM 1480] in Amatitán from certified organic blue agaves. The hand-numbered tequila has a floral nose and a broad palate brimming with herbal, vegetal and citrus flavors. Packaged using ecologically sustainable materials, drinking responsibly never tasted so good.
Cielo Rojo Bacanora — Cielo Rojo is crafted on the estate of master distiller Roberto Contreras in the State of Sonora. The wild maguey agaves are slowly roasted in a clay and rock-lined oven sunk into the ground. The roasted agaves are then double-distilled in a small copper pot still and rendered to 84 proof with the estate’s spring-fed water. The blanco has a generous floral and herbaceous nose and a semisweet vanilla, cocoa, spice, anise and red plum palate.
Comisario Tequila — This vivacious spirit is produced in the highlands of Los Altos at the Agaveros y Tequileros Unidos distillery [NOM 1529]. Its most singular production technique is the use of chill filtration to remove any residual impurities. The shimmery, crystalline tequila has a peppery, citrus-laced bouquet and a spicy, long-lasting palate.
Don Cuco Sotol — The brand is distilled from the desert spoon plant, a variety of agave native to Chihuahua. Don Cuco Sotol has been made for six generations at Compañia Elaboradora de Sotol [NOM 159] in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The agaves are roasted in earthen pits and triple-distilled in small copper stills. The spirit is satiny smooth with a decidedly vegetal nose and a spicy, slightly smoky finish.
Don Diego Santa Tequila — Don Diego Santa is handcrafted at the Destilería Rio de Plata [NOM 1124] in Guadalajara, a small distillery founded in 1943. Production is overseen by Maribel Garcia, one of only a handful of women master distillers in the tequila industry. Bottled fresh from the still, the blanco tequila has a velvety texture, a generous bouquet and a palate saturated with chocolate, black pepper, mocha, citrus and baked fruit. The lingering finish is spicy and satisfying.
Don Pilar Tequila — The brand is crafted by Grupo Industrial Tequilero de Los Altos [NOM 1443] in the highlands of Jalisco. The agaves from which is made Don Pilar tequila are fermented using a process dubbed the “Mozart method,” in which classical music is played over speakers during the 10-day fermentation process. It’s thought the soothing strains of the music have a positive affect on the yeast used in fermentation. Don Pilar is an exemplary Highland gem—fruity, floral and slightly spicy.
Don Rich Blanco Tequila — This artisanal unaged tequila is produced in Guadalajara at Compañia Tequilera Los Volores [NOM 1486]. The spirit is made from mature agaves, slowly baked, naturally fermented and double-distilled in a copper pot still. The blanco, which is bottled directly from the still, features the aromas and flavors of citrus zest, dried herbs, baking spices and vegetal baked agave.
El Buho Mezcal — This Oaxaca [NOM 0110X] native is a traditionally crafted mezcal sans the worm. The Espadin agaves used in production are slow roasted in stone fire pits and crushed with a tahona wheel. The fermented wash is then distilled in a 5th generation copper alembic still. The result is a spicy, peppery and herbaceous spirit with delicate smoky notes. El Buho—which is Spanish for owl—makes an excellent entree to the category.
Herencia del Mezcalero Mezcal — Herencia is a handcrafted gem worthy of a snifter. Made by 4th generation mezcalero Enrique Jimenéz at Fabrica del Amigo [NOM 015X], the blanco mezcal is triple-distilled from slow roasted Espadin agaves and bottled fresh from the still. Herencia is crystal clear with a lightweight, velvety textured body and a generous bouquet of citrus, spice and floral aromas without a trace of smoke. Its dry, expansive palate features the long-lasting flavors of cinnamon, vanilla, mangos and roasted peppers.
Magave Blanco Tequila — Made in Jalisco at Destiladora del Valle de Tequila [NOM 1438], Magave is a rare Highland classic made using both traditional artisanal methods and state of the art equipment. The harvested mature agaves baked in stone ovens and stainless steel autoclaves. The extracted juice is allowed to slowly ferment using airborne yeasts and double distilled in pot stills. The water used in production is subjected to high-tech filtration. The finished blanco has an enticing floral and fruit character.
Regional Blanco Tequila — This franchise player hails from Empresa Ejidal Tequilera in Amatitán (NOM 1503). The Regional (pronounced “Ray-he-o-nahl”) range of tequilas is distilled from mature agaves cultivated in the both the Lowlands and the Highlands by a collective of small, family-owned growers. This singular blend of appellations helps create the unique Regional taste profile. The spirit has a clear shimmery appearance, a light satiny body and an alluring mint and citrus bouquet. The herbal finish is long and distinguished.
Tequila Uno (T1) Blanco Tequila — Few brands are better prepared for success. Tequila Uno is the creation of master distiller Germán González Gorrochotegui of Chinaco fame. The range includes two exceptional blancos—T1 Tequila Uno Ultra Fino and the recently introduced Tequila Uno Maduro, which is distilled to a lower alcohol content to expand its flavor profile and then bottled at an elevated 43% alcohol by volume. The limited release Maduro has a lightweight, oily textured body and a brilliant citrus, pepper, herbal, honey-laced palate.
Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila — The Tres Agave range of tequilas is made in the Lowlands of Jalisco at El Llano Distillery [NOM 1109]. Founded in 1900 it is one of the oldest distilleries in Jalisco. Tres Agaves Blanco is a modern classic, an ideal introduction to the joys of sipping unaged tequila. It has a light satiny body and a wafting fruity and herbaceous nose. On the palate, the tequila delivers waves of spicy, minty and vegetal flavors.
¡Salud¡ one and all!