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Tequila, it makes me happy
Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila
Member Name: Danscomp
Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila
Advantages: Great in a margarita
Disadvantages: A compromise blend.
I've reviewed Jack Daniels' single barrel bourbon. I then went on to cover Sailor Jerry's spiced rum. Now it's time to cover a spirit that still seems to be in limited use in the UK. Ladies, Gentlemen, I give you Mexico's finest - Tequila.
Tequila is made from the core of a plant commonly called blue agave. Harvested in their twelfth year by specialist labourers called Jimenadores who pass their knowledge of exactly how to work the plant down from generation to generation.
Unfortunately, Tequila prices climbed as a result of a blight on the plant. I've seen prices increase by 30% because of it. I fervently hope that the plants recover, because a good tequila is a thing of beauty.
Bake me a pineapple, I'll be back for breakfast.
The hearts of the plant, called pinas (pineapples) are then slowly baked in ovens to break down starches into sugars. Shredded or mashed by a large wheel, the juice begins the fermentation process. Twice distilled, gives the entry level result known as silver tequila.
If not bottled at this stage, it is transferred to wooden barrels to create the clearly superior golden, rested Tequila. The degree of aging produces several further categories.
These are, in order:
Silver (Plata) - Bottled immediately after distillation, or aged less than two months. This is your entry level tequila, best used for mixing drinks with. Also the cheapest, typically around £15 a bottle.
Young - (Joven) Mix of silver tequila and rested tequila. Typically a light gold in colour.
Rested (Reposado) - A deeper gold. Aged a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak barrels of any size. This is normally my "go to" vintage, due to cost. Ideally you want to find a bottle that confirms it is made from 100% blue agave. Many tequilas are a mix of agave and other, less expensive sugar sources due to the blight.
If you're looking at Jose Cuervo, the world's most prevalent distributor and manufacturer of tequila, look for the traditional or la familia marker.
Aged (Añejo) - Aged a minimum of one year, but less than three years in small oak barrels. Over three years results in Ultra-Anejo. Here's where the price starts to rise. Expect an absolute minimum of £20 a bottle, and consider yourself lucky.
Double that price, and you get something truly special. Prices will continue to rise to around £100. While the lower end of these can be used to create a delicious mixed drink such as Margarita, the higher end is sippin' territory.
It makes me happy
I am reviewing the most common tequila, The Jose Cuervo especial. What makes it special is that only 51% of the product comes from blue agave. The rest, as indicated above comes from less expensive sugar sources. Again, the agave blight has caused this compromise.
You still have a golden fluid with an unmistakable aroma. Nothing else smells like tequila. Do not chill tequila, unless it's really rough, cheap stuff. Drink it room temperature. A lot of folks shoot shots of tequila by doing the lip, sip and suck. A lick of salt on the rim, a shot of tequila and a suck of a slice of lime (or lemon). Watch out how many shots you take as it's easy to get carried away in a group. Projectile vomiting is not a pleasant experience.
I prefer to sip, rather than shoot. If you want to be really authentic, exchange sips between the tequila and sangrita (orange juice, grenadine and chilli.) Oye, Paisano!
I've noted tequila has a unique aroma. It also has a unique taste. It's somewhere between a traditional sour whiskey and a golden rum. The heat can be explosive, but lingers pleasantly. There's less subtlety in comparison with an aged tequila, but it makes an excellent base for Margaritas. You can use Jose Cuervo's own Tequila mix (think Asda have a monopoly on it now) or you can make your own with a mix of lime juice, triple sec and a dash of orange curacao (or Cointreau).
Jose Cuervo "Especial" is priced around £18 per bottle. The mix can be bought for around £6. Do NOT under any circumstance buy Jose Cuervo's ready mixed margaritas (both in single bottle). It is foul.
If my review has you tempted to try the more expensive Tequilas, but you don't want to splash out on a bottle, the excellent Wahaca in Covent garden has a full range. Try the Puerco pibil and refriados while you're there.
Summary: Good introductory, general purpose tequila
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