In my travels last week through the magical land of Tequila, Mexico, I tasted, yes, a ridiculous amount of tequila from a wide range of distillers. After watching it being made and sampling it its homeland, I gained a deeper appreciation than I already had for the agave spirit. Here are three superb but uncommon tequilas only found in Mexico or here in the states with some investigative cunning. Of course, the incomparable Tommy's Mexican Restaurant often stocks all of these by the pour if you wish to sample.
San Matias Gran Reserva Anejo
San Matias' Gran Reserva Anejo is distilled in Ojode Agua, Jalisco, aged three years in French oak barrels, and is a shocking value in Mexico at less than $20 a bottle. Recommended to me by a restaurant owner on the outskirts of Guadalajara, I was pleased by its gentle amber color and subtle notes of orange peel, roasted apples and smoke playing off the herbaceousness it thankfully retains despite age (a fault I sometimes find with anejos). When asking locals why it's so cheap compared to other anejos, they said it's because it's about 80% agave vs. a high quality 100%. Their website says otherwise, claiming to be 100%. I may never know the truth, but I can say this was a favorite find during my time in Mexico and certainly the best deal.
Arette Unique Reposado
Arette was one of the distilleries I visited in Tequila and has become a favorite, specifically for their fabulous, reasonable -- around $60 a bottle in US, $30 in Mexico -- Reposado Artesanal. (They also have a basic reposado). But the one everyone claims can only be purchased in Mexico is their Unique Reposado (there's a Unique Blanco and Extra Anejo as well). Though I see K&L Wines can special order it and even if I actually prefer the Artesanal repo, the Unique impresses with its refined balance, aged 11 months in white oak bourbon barrels. Nuanced and subtle, it's a fine reposado intro for the uninitiated.
I was more excited by the rare, small production Gran Clase Extra Anejo, aged over three years with woody mellowness yet herbaceous, agave properties... and the extra anejo El Gran Viejo with its artistic, unusual bottle. It's warm with vanilla, almond richness, rested six years in bourbon barrels.
Reserva de los Gonzalez Blanco
Another sip recommended by a Mexican local, Reserva de los Gonazalez has Don Julio ties. Its directors are Eduardo and Francisco González, sons of none other than Don Julio González. Produced in Los Altos, Jalisco, and made from the Tequilana Weber blue agave plant, the Reserva Blanco is 100% pure agave, clean, reminiscent of Don Julio's blanco with a gentle sweetness, floral, grassy notes, and plenty of agave.
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