Over the summer I conducted a series of blind tastings to determine, on a preliminary basis, my favorite recipe ratios for a classic margarita, and my favorite blanco tequilas for use in those drinks. The results of the Perect Margarita Blind Tasting Finals Round 1 are here:
Now I want to go back and taste just the tequilas blind, side-by-side. In the margarita finals I was using several strongly-recommended tequilas which I had never tasted neat, most notably Siete Leguas and Corzo. So here goes, a blind tasting of Siete Leguas, Corzo, Patron, Milagro, and Tesoro, the 5 tequilas which found their way into the margarita finals Round 1.
My ultimate goal for this remains to identify my favorite tequila(s) for margaritas, rather than for drinking straight, but I am curious about the flavor differences neat, as these nuances in the end determine how the tequila impacts the flavor of the margaritas. It’s also worth noting at the outset that the best-tasting tequila neat is not necessarily going to be the best candidate for your margarita; it is really the interplay between tequila, orange liqueur, and lime that ultimately determine that.
From my multiple prior tastings, ALL of these tequilas make an interesting margarita, and several of them have actually combined nicely to produce an even more interesting cocktail than either alone.
Actual tasting notes follow:
Teq 1: Mild nose, medium to mild lingering burn. Not unpleasant. I haven’t mastered describing the unique flavors of tequila. But for my purposes, this is relatively clean tasting, mild burn, not particularly “lip smacking” and no particularly describable flavors; mild “cool mint” perhaps, is that on the tequila tasting wheel?.
Teq 2: Stronger flavored, musty-earthy. Mild burn.
Teq 3: Somewhere between 1 and 2. Interesting that the mild burn on this really lingers, almost evolves in the back of my throat… did I mention this lingers? Hints of pepper on the nose and palate.
At this point, 2 has that expansive earthy flavor, vs. 3 which is more sharply focused, like an aggressive “Teq 1”, but with the interesting flavor evolution. I think if I have to drink 2 or 3 neat, I’d probably choose 3 (less earthiness, more flavor evolution). In contrast to 3, Teq 1 just sort of “sits there”, is inoffensive but also somewhat unremarkable. So Teq 3 is probably the winner at this point
Teq 4: Ah, this is an interesting sucker, pretty sure I know which it is (going to guess Tesoro but might be Corzo). By far the most pronounced nose. The initial taste produces an “ugghh” exclamation. Not necessarily in a bad way, but this is bold tequila. There’s pepper and mineral in a very distinct up-front flavor that dissipates fairly rapidly; i.e. not much flavor evolution past the initial impressions. Maybe something lingering there, but not really evolving.
Teq 5: Almost no nose. Mild lemony flavor, inoffensive but perhaps a little boring. Similar to Teq 1. Nothing not to like….
Tasting Teq 1 and 5 side-by-side, they are fairly similar. Thought at first I might like 5 a bit better… yes, I think a bit brighter, not that 1 is bad.
So I’m tentatively saying, of the “clean” tasting tequilas I’m leaning to 5 neat (over 1 by a nose). Of the harsher-flavored, probably 3 given the complexity. If I had to sit in a room and drink this stuff straight I’d probably opt for Teq 5 as a little of 2-3-or 4 goes a long ways… but again, can be incredible in a margarita!
Well probably not going to discover much more, time to find out for sure what I’ve been drinking:
Teq 1: Corzo. Totally didn’t expect that.
Teq 2: Patron.
Teq 3: Siete Leguas
Teq 4: Tesoro… got that one right, with the distinctive pepper is a give-away.
Teq 5: Milagro!! Which has consistently impressed me as a very approachable well-made tequila, easily the best for my palate neat.
So in the coming months I’ll be picking up on the Summer Finals Round 1 and this blind tasting, experimenting with tequila combinations, other orange liqueurs, etc. on my quest for the very ultimate margarita recipe.
I am confident that the ultimate marg will have a tequila base of both a 1-5 “clean” tequila, and one or more of the 2-3-4 more complex ones. So, for example, I might go (on the tequila portion), 40% Milagro, 40% Siete, and 20% Tesoro for that peppery kick. Until next time….