Wednesday 5 May 2021 12:03 pm

City Spirits: Cinco de Mayo is the perfect chance to look afresh at tequila

It’s not been a vintage twelve months for travelling, as we all know.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get away, even momentarily, with a taste of further afield.

Cinco de Mayo, Mexico’s biggest party day of the year, is upon us – and one of the best ways to raise a glass to Mexico, is with their globally famous drink Tequila. 

Tequila, however is a bit like flying: some people love it and take it in their stride; others are fearful of it, and try to avoid it at all costs, having been tossed about in tequila turbulence and often left feeling green around the gills. 

Yet this doesn’t always have to be the case. Tequila, which is part of the Mezcal family of spirits made from the agave plant, is often served as a clear spirit, downed as shots in the heat of the moment as rocket fuel for the night. But slamming is for doors, and shots are for firing across your enemies bow. Neither are for your night out. Or indeed your night in. 

If you’re looking to enjoy a tequila, rather than feel tequila has taken advantage of you, look for the ones with the golden hue, slowly aged in oak casks, which carry the key words ‘reposado’ or ‘anejo’ on the label.

If you see the term ‘gold’, walk away. Often ‘gold’ tequila is simply a poor quality spirit that has been coloured to make it look aged. What you’re after is a tequila where the wood has had more influence on the spirit than a PM’s partner has had on interior design.

These aged styles are key to a fuller flavour, where the cask has tamed the earthy tones of the agave plant, and added a subtle, creamy layer of spice notes, rounding out the taste and making these tequilas perfect for sipping. 

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The length of time in cask will add colour and depth of flavour, with reposado (‘rested’) having spent between two months and a year in wood, with a fine example being the Ocho version, which carries lovely vanilla and cream soda notes to the mix. 

‘Anejo’ (aged) means the tequila has been in wood for between a year and three years. Patron’s edition is a luxurious version, and the producer has even selected individual barrels for limited edition releases.

Check out their current offering in partnership with The Whisky Exchange which is matured in a combination of American and French oak casks and is perfect sipped neat with notes of dark chocolate and leather. 

For anything longer, you’ll want to seek out the term ‘extra anejo’ on the label, as seen on the truly excellent ‘Reserva de la Familia’ by famous tequila house Jose Cuervo, which is note just one if the finest examples of a tequila, but one of the finest examples of a sipping spirit there is.

So, there is more to tequila than the over-washed and over-worn ‘one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor’ t-shirts sported by those folk you really want to avoid at the bar. If you have any sense, you’ll not be drawn in by the shots, and after a few drinks to support your local bar, you’ll head home to pour yourself an aged tequila, and reflect on the qualities therein.

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