Tequilas We Love

Thanks to a new crop of ultra-premium tequilas, this complex spirit no longer wears the frat-boy clothes of yore. Tequila can now be sipped and savored, in the same way you’d enjoy single-malt scotch or fine wine. Tequila types range from blanco (“white,” unaged, light and smooth) to extra añejo (“ultra-aged” for at least three years in oak barrels). Any premium tequila will contain 100 percent blue agave.

And there may be an added bonus. Arty Dozortsev, U.S. importer for the Alacrán brand, says that tequila is the only alcohol that works as a stimulant, making it a great cocktail to sip all night. Many people indeed claim that tequila gives them more energy than, say, whiskey or red wine.

That matter aside, there’s no question that serious good taste lurks behind the beautiful bottle that houses Alacrán. This new blanco tastes light and smooth with an excellent finish, and should be served chilled or on ice. Alacrán also produces a clear mezcal, which is tequila’s interesting cousin. Mezcal is produced using oven-roasted, stoneground agave of different origins beyond blue and has a smokier, more varied aftertaste.

Another excellent tequila is Partida. Mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout, who acts as its brand ambassador, advises treating this liquor “as you would any other high-crafted spirit, such as single-malt scotch or cognac.” Bezuidenhout said tequila should be enjoyed from a tulip-shaped glass or small white wine glass so that the agave aroma and spices can come through. And he discourages any sort of salt, lime or sour mix, urging drinkers to savor the complex taste that accompanies well-made tequila.

The estate-grown Partida comes in several distinctive varieties. Bezuidenhout recommends that drinkers go to a bar and taste several to determine what suits their palates. Partida Blanco is crisp and somewhat floral, Partida Reposado (aged six months) is full-bodied with significant sweetness and Partida Añejo (aged 18 months) has an intense golden color and aged depth of flavor. At the high end is Partida Tequila Elegante ($350), which is aged for more than 36 months in oak barrels. Production is limited to less than 300 bottles per year.

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I would put both of these brands against Cuervo "Reserva de la Familia" which is aged 12 years, comes in numbered bottles and is aged to a golden amber with an equally complex and delicious flavor for sipping from a snifter.

Two of my favorite "Ultra Premium" Tequilas are Don Julio's Real and Herradura's Selección Suprema. Both are meant to be savored like a fine Cognac, and paired up with a fine Cubano Puros like a Monte Cristo #2 or a Partagas Series D. La Vida Buena!!!

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