Going to Mexico - tequila recs?
I am going to Playa del Carmen for a week in July and wanted to bring back some tequila as gifts. I know nothing about tequila -- I stopped drinking the stuff after a Christmas break in college -- the story why is for another posting board :-) Any suggestions?
Tracy in St. Louis
100% agave. I got a bottle of Centenario anejo to bring back the last time I was in Mexico City. Do a little reading on tequila. I now feel that the reposados are my favorite. There are blanco or silver which is not aged, reposado which means rested and that is around 2 months in the barrel and anejo which is aged for 1 to less than 3 yrs and extra anejo which is aged longer than 3 years. Stay away from gold or oro which has things added to give it color. Don Julio and Porfidio are both expensive even in Mexico. Have a good trip. Good tequila is for sipping not shooting.
I second Centenario, a very good tequila. While Don Julio is more expensive, in my opinion it is the better tequila and well worth the extra cash. It's not that expensive, going for around $30-$45 on average. I highly reccommend Don Julio, it's a very good tequila to slowly enjoy and not shoot down, it has a good taste and it's not overly priced. Remember, if it's not 100% agave, then chances are it's at least 40% sugar and water, meaning it's really not worth it. Most Cuervos, aren't 100%, I believe there's one or two they put out, I think it's the tradicional or whatever that some people say is worth it, but most Cuervo's aren't.
Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia - Just for the record............
A rich blend of smooth mellow flavor. It is 100% Blue Agave. Only 17,000 bottles of Reserva De La Familia are produced each year. This Extra-Añejo tequila is aged in oak barrels for an average of 3 years. The final blend includes Tequila from reserves aged over 30 years. Only the estate's finest 10-year-old agaves are hand-selected. Only the most flavorful inner portion of the agave's piña (heart) is used. Vibrant, with a full, mellow flavor combines floral, agave, vanilla and Cognac-like flavors.
I recently tried the Milagro Reposado and am picking up a bottle at my next opportunity.
The comforting thing about Mexico is that it's sort of hard to find something that's not 100% agave (i.e., most Jose's), but yeah, 100% is the only way to go.
Look for brands you see in the states in fancy bottles but in Mexico it will be a less fancy bottle. Arrete which is one of my faves can be had for about $25, if you can find it in the states your looking at $125 but a fancier bottle. Same thing with Espolon, $15 in Mexico in a regular bottle, $85-100 in the blown glass bottle, same tequila. Arrete reposado is my favorite. I tend more towards the blancos or reposados as they have more tequila flavor. Here is a funny one, go to a Costco in mexico. Huge selection, probably 30 tequilas and many of the centenario offerings. My pick at Costco is centenario AZUL. It is about $12 and is very smooth and flavorful. When i have found azul in the states it usually goes for $50-80. I pick up a bottle or two every time I go to Tijuana. The COstco is just over the border. Good luck.
Tracy, the recs below are good and the advice to pay attention to the labels for the percentage of blue agave is dead on. The label will say something like "100% de Agave" in Spanish, and it is important. I think all of us probably over indulged in tequila in college at one time or another ;-), try a good quality reposado and you may change your mind.
I'm partial to Don Julio but recently had the opportunity to try a brand that was new to me called Don Fernando. I have to say the Don Fernando reposado was the finest and smoothest tequila I've ever tasted. Incredibly amazing stuff and not at all rough around the edges. It is produced in Jalisco, but I'm not sure how wide a distribution it has in Mexico. It's double distilled (many tequilas are triple distilled) and aged for 2 years in French barrels that were once used for aging chardonnay. A good reposado should be easy to sip and not the ideal tequila for a shooter :-).
The advice to seek out a Costco is actually really good. I was in Guadalajara a couple months ago and had the chance to stop into a Costco. The tequila and rum selections were gigantic and the prices were really good. I picked up another bottle, a big bottle, of Don Julio very inexpensively. I'm sure there's probably a Costco in or around Playa de Carmen. I'm not sure I'd make a special trip there just to get tequila, but if you happen to run across it when you're out and about, it might be worthwhile to stop in. My American Costco card worked in GDL.