I spent the weekend with 40+ of my closest friends and on Friday evening we conducted a blind tequila tasting. I will qualify this by saying that we aren't professionals and the tasting was relaxed. I am posting this here because it was an interesting exercise in tasting, but also because about half the tequilas are not mainstream tequilas. The tasters were mostly in the 55-70 age range and have traveled extensively in Mexico for many years. Most enjoy tequila and over a lifetime have tasted the good, the great, the bad and the oh-my-god-what-was-I-thinking in tequilas and mezcals.
* All the bottles were reposados
* The bottles were all wrapped and the labels not visible
* Each bottle was given an arbitrary identifier that contained a letter and a number. B-26 for example
* Raters were provided a worksheet that explained what to look for in a tequila and how to taste it.
* Raters were asked to rate each tequila they sampled on a scale of 1-5 (1 being not so hot, 5 being very good) in the following areas:
2) Initial Taste
3) Mouth Feel
Tasters could also make comments if they wished.
Scored were compiled and averaged to arrive at a final score.
We started out with 9 samples, but the 9th bottle was only a partial and 2 friends and I finished it before the tasting. It was a bottle of Volcan de mi Tierra (NOM 1523) and was actually the best of the tequilas we had.
In order from least favorite to favorite, the results were:
#8. Jose Cuervo Tradicional (NOM 1122). Overall score - 2.38
#7. Arette Artesenal Sauve (NOM 1109). Overall score - 2.47. Comments included: grassy, no taste, watery mouth feel, smooth finish. (This happened to be a bottle I donated to the taste test. I agree that the flavor was a bit light and not terribly distinctive. I don't agree with the watery mouth feel. This is a medium bodied tequila and the mouth feel is actually very pleasant on this bottle)
#6. Chinanco (NOM1127). Overall score - 2.74. Comments included: strong cinnamon in aroma, nice burn from the alcohol, nice aftertaste, flinty and strong mineral hit in the flavor. (This was the most expensive bottle at $60, purchased at BevMo in CA. It was also the most polarizing of the tequilas. The tasters either really liked it, or really strongly disliked it. No one was in between on this one)
#5. Milagro (NOM 1559). Overall score - 2.99. Only comment was that it had a classic tequila taste (though what the taster meant by "classic tequila taste" was not defined).
#4. Casa Amigos (NOM 1416). Overall score - 3.08. Comments included: Nice mouth feel, strong hit on vanilla in initial taste which became stronger as an aftertaste. (We used this tequila for margaritas the next night and the vanillas was very pronounced. Some people really enjoyed it, I, personally, did not.) (Yes, this is the George Clooney tequila, which is why it was included. For the novelty of it)
There was a tie for #3
#3. Fortaleza (NOM1493) Overall score - 3.21. Comments included: nice citrus in the aroma, thin mouth feel, some bitterness in the finish. (I agree very much with the comments about the mouth feel and the bitterness in the finish. This is a nice summer tequila because it's light, it also makes a really nice margarita)
#3. Herradura Double Barrel (NOM 1119) Overall score - 3.21. Comments included: slightly medicinal, not impressive, good burn, some bitterness in the finish (I disagree with this assessment. I've had several bottles of Double Barrel over the last couple of years and in general, I think it's quite a nice sipping tequila, fairly smooth with some nice spice. Tends to be a bit earthy)
#2. La Misión Siglo XXI (NOM 1564) Overall score - 3.83. Comments included: somewhat watery mouth feel (I did not agree with this), smooth finish, slight sweetness in initial taste, pleasant hits of butter and caramel in the taste, easy drinker, good balance.
#1. Don Ramon (NOM 1420) Overall score 3.94. Comments included: Wow, smooth, great taste, spicy aroma, good spice in the initial taste, as well as motor oil/metalic.
The Arette Artesenal, Don Ramon, La Misión and the Volcan de mi Tierra were purchased in Mexico. The Volcan de mi Tierra is not readily available in the U.S., but if you can find it anywhere buy it, it's really good, and it's about $13 USD. The Arette Artesenal and Don Ramon can be found in the U.S., not sure about the La Misión.