The day I changed my mind about tequila

Drink, Sydney / 19 September 2011

Lick. Sip. Suck.
Three little words known only too well and even when whispered are enough to send chills down a grown mans spine. Flashbacks of spinning rooms, greasy kebabs and waking up next to a total fugly are all memories you’d rather forget. It’s enough to swear off tequila for life, sparing the risk of déjà vu.
We’ve all done it…the tequila that is, not the fugly one nightstand. Though I’m not sure what would be worse, bad sex or bad tequila. I digress… Most people think of tequila as an eye burning, strong spirit only bearable by quick shooting and masking with salt and lemon. Last week Jose Cuervo Tequila Master Blender, Don Francisco Hajnal Alfaro came from Mexico to Sydney on a tequila myth busting crusade and converted at least one person, moi.

In an intimate tasting session, Don Francisco walked us through the history of tequila and the Jose Cuervo range including the 250 Aniversario. In 1758 Jose Antonio De Cuervo was given land in Jalisco, Tequila where the spirit originated. The family distillery La Rojena can still be found there today and is the oldest distillery in Latin America.
Don Francisco has spent 30 years in the tequila game after starting his career in the wine industry. He explains that the Cuervo range should be treated like a fine whisky or wine, sipped slowly to appreciate the rich flavour.
We made our way through the range, first the Cuervo Silver, which had a really strong alcoholic taste, even the smell burnt my eyes. The after taste was pleasant but I’d have appreciated the lemon and salt for this one.
The Cuervo Gold was a lot smoother with oaky flavours and hints of vanilla. I really enjoyed the Cuervo Traditional despite it smelling like a margarita for it’s sweet taste of dried fruits. Served ice cold it would be very pleasant.
The Cuervo Platino was rich and smooth and if it had a tagline, according to Don Francisco it would be ‘please drink me’. The Reserva de la Familia Extra Anejo on the other had would be ‘please drink me…slowy’. Aromatically this was gorgeous with smells of chocolate, oak, almonds and cinnamon. It taste just as good, one to be savoured.

The 250 Aniversario was in a league of it’s own. There are only three bottles in Australia and they retail for $2,500 a piece. Just holding the hand stitched, hand blown decanter with individual sequential number etched into the glass was exciting. It has been blended from the most select tequilas in the family’s reserve and aged with a unique double-cask method. The best of these extra añejos, aged in toasted new American oak barrels for a minimum of three years, are selected by Don Francisco and blended together to achieve a superior tequila. The distinctive blend is then finished for 10 months in Sherry casks originating from Spain. This unique double-cask technique means limited and rare product on offer.

It taste like Christmas and if you’d blind folded my tasting I’d have sworn it was a fine whisky. I could have smelt the aroma all afternoon but not long after being poured does the sweet scent change. If the 250 anniversario had a tag line it would be “drink me and kill me slowly’. A bottle of that and you wouldn’t mind being capped in a Mexican stand-off. The 250 Aniversario should be added to everyones bucket-list, finding it will be the hardest part.

The 250 Aniversario and Don Francisco