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Nov 14, 2010 11:23 AM

100% agave for $13?

el Charro - new to me - reposado, more pale than most. Any opinions to share before I open this baby, or should I throw it out with the bathwater?

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  1. I hope it's better than the 100% agave Lunazul repo I got a while back for $17.

    20 Replies
    1. re: ncyankee101

      Ouch. How could anyone harvest old blue agave and not take pride in their craft?

      1. re: Veggo

        Don't assume too much from one person's opinion. Lots of folks (myself included) find Lunazul to be a very good tequila, and outstanding for the price. Can't help you on El Charro, but how far wrong can you go for $13? Especially when some online retailers are selling the silver for $35.

        1. re: alanbarnes

          I'm sipping one now. It's not Herradura, but similar to Cazadores, just a little lighter. A good value for the price I paid. It was a promo being hawked by a pretty gal with straight teeth and cleavage, and I sometimes fall for that.

          1. re: Veggo

            Veggo- LOL at your post.

            You're in Denver aren't you?- Where did you find El Charro on the cheap? My "margarita tequilas" are 30-30 or El Tequileno as they are <$20 and have a pleasant if unremarkable flavor (to me).

            Thread drift comment- when we look at the tequila shelf we tend to throw out anything that isn't 100% agave.... however, like scotch... are there some nice mixing tequilas that are mixto's that are better than more expensive 100% de agave tequilas?

            I remember when El Jimador spent some years as a mixto (it appears to be back to 100% agave now) I thought it was still a superior "cheap" tequila to some of more expensive "pure agave" choices (Cabo Wabo for instance IMO).

            Other thoughts along these lines?

            1. re: e_bone

              Cabo is not good? I've never had it but I had heard it was given at least some respect by Tequila aficionados.

              Now patron is definitely overrated - I have tried a couple that are better and cost about half as much, both silver and anejo.

              1. re: ncyankee101

                IMO Cabo is not a deeply flawed / bad tequila.. it is an overpriced tequila. Patron I would positvely say the same thing about. Not a bad tequila.. but for the money I've got mutliple choices I'd rather make.

              2. re: e_bone

                I'm a Florida resident now, I enjoyed 8 splendid years in CO. My top 4 thrifty all-agave are Cazadores, El Jimador, Hornitos, and now El Charro, although my merchant says these promo deals never last long. Pricier Herradura is for special friends.
                You ask a good question that I am not qualified to answer: what is the best mixto for mixing?

                1. re: Veggo

                  I like your choices... El Jimador (as I also noted as a value) I *think* is produced by Herradura (which is one of my favorite topper shelves as well). I will find El Charro soon.

                  Also- haven't tried, but this has some really nice reviews on :


                  It's 20$ at my local mega-Liquor-mall

                  1. re: e_bone

                    Sourcing is pretty easy to determine with tequila, since Mexican law requires the distillery to be identified on each bottle. Casa Herradura is NOM 1119. If you look at a bottle of El Jimador - NOM 1119. No doubt about it...

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      For a brief period Los Abuelos popped up from nowhere, and I thought their agave reposado was decent for the low $20's, and then it disappeared. As Janis said, get it while you can.

            2. re: alanbarnes

              I didn't think Lunazul was bad until I did a side-by-side with a slightly better Repo (1800), then I noticed a distinct soapy taste that I found mildly nauseating.

              The 1800 is a little on the bland side, but it doesn't have any unpleasant taste to it.

              As a comparison - on the 3 el charro tequilas have average scores between 88-90, while the lunazul blanco (the only one rated) has a 79. Most are based on only 2 reviews so are not all that statistically significant, but 79 is not a good score on that site.

              1. re: ncyankee101

                Looks like it took a Gold Medal at the '08 SF World Spirits Competition. That's certainly subjective, too, but at least it's more than two people doing the tasting.

                My take on the Lunazul was that it tasted like a good Reposado, only a less so. Didn't find any off-flavors like soapiness. My main complaint is that it's a little light.

                Regardless, I love the fact that recent years have brought us so many pure agave tequilas that don't require a serious commitment. If I spend $50 for a bottle and don't care for it, I'll keep coming back to try to figure out what I'm missing. For $15, I'll just mix it with Citronge and fresh-squeezed key lime juice and let my guests rave about my margaritas.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  The quandary in this business is anguished by artisanal producers who can do more than satisfy the drunkards in Jalisco, but when they go viral, quality control goes down the drain.
                  You have to catch them in the middle, like a 13 inch rainbow.

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    That was three people doing the tasting - one was me remember? - and I hated it. The nauseating soapy taste wasn't subjective in any way, at least for me. Could have been a bad batch, many inexpensive Scotches suffer from poor quality control, I would imagine the same goes for Tequila.

                    If you know anything about "world spirits tasting competitions" you will know there were probably 20 other tequilas that got "Gold" and it means absolutely nothing. Maybe less than nothing, if you read this blog you will realize it's more marketing than competition.


                    I find some of the Scotches that got medals in this competition to be mostly undrinkable - one of them the "Gold" medalist Dewars white label. Black Bottle and White Horse are both infinitely better, and the fact that J+B rare is even on there makes me disregard the whole list.

                    1. re: ncyankee101

                      Err, taste is, by definition, subjective. Thus, your "at least for me" disclaimer.

                      The badly-rinsed -glasses hypothesis sounds plausible. Easy one to test in any case.

                      1. re: Gustavo Glenmorangie

                        I rinse my glasses thoroughly thanks, I didn't start tasting beer and liquor yesterday. I rarely even use soap, unless the glass has sat for a while - just rinse well with hot water immediately after use - habit I got into drinking beer where soap residue interferes with head retention.

                    2. re: alanbarnes

                      I had just a little of the Lunazul Repo left I just brought back from my girlfriend's house, that I had a hard time bringing myself to finish off - and I decided to try it blind against an excellent (for the money) repo I had recently purchased for $20, 30-30.

                      I have had a lot of different tequilas since my posts in this thread, and I honestly think I must have gotten ahold of a bottle from a bad batch because I don't see how anyone could think this stuff is decent. It has a sour finish and I still get the distinct soapy taste. I didn't even need the side-by-side blind comparison because I happened to grab this one first and the taste almost made me gag. It was nearly as undrinkable as Monte Alban mezcal, and had similar flavor issues.

                      I probably won't be giving it another chance however because I have had too many excellent tequilas in the same price range recently - El Ultimo, 30-30, Camarena. Even El Charro, which I didn't like all that much, is miles better than this bottle of Lunazul and was substantially cheaper at $15 in SC,

              2. re: ncyankee101

                Lunazul isn't in the same class as $40-100 sipping tequilas. It makes good mixed drinks and a good price point though.

                1. re: yarm

                  I didn't compare it to any $40+ tequilas, I compared it to 1800 repo which I have found online as low as $21, and which I found in a side-by-side blind comparison to be MUCH better.,

                  1. re: yarm

                    As an update to the great Lunazul debate - I finally decided to give the brand another chance when I saw the Anejo on sale for $19 - and I have to say it is not bad at all, considering the price point. Not sure if the extra aging neutralized / overwhelmed the unpleasant tastes I noted in the repo, or I had just gotten a bad bottle.

                    The anejo has a nice bourbony nose and palate, the finish is not all that great but for the money how much can you expect? Very nice mixer, makes a decent margarita (though I usually use blancos.)

                    I also would like to mention than two other people I have come across noted the same soapy taste in lunazul, one a friend who is a total tequila freak, and the other the last commenter (broker57) on this review:


                2. Anyway - to get back to your original question - from your impressions and the reviews I have managed to find, it sounds like the El Charro was quite a bargain - I wish we had it in this area.

                  1. El Charro was on sale at a nearby liquor store for around $15. They said the regular price was around $39. I think the importer changed, and they changed the packaging, so they're probably just trying to get rid of the old stock.

                    Of course, at $15, I took the bait. It was just fine. I tried it sipping it neat, shooting it, and in margaritas. Not bad at all.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Livingston

                      I am persuaded that it is the real deal, in spite of the price. I went back today and bought a lot of it, the reposado. The bottle is somewhat different from what I see when I Google it, so your explanation would fit the facts. It sips well.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        We have it here in ATL. If I didn't have gobs of El Jimador left over from a party, I'd buy some to try.

                    2. I finally got ahold of this on a trip to SC, picked up the blanco and repo for $14 each. Not bad for $14 but the blanco doesn't hold up neat in a side-by-side comparison to Espolon (my standard among <$20 tequilas),. The alcohol burn is pretty strong and the agave flavor is not as evident, also slightly sour. I tried the Repo last night and didn't enjoy it at all, but my palate was not fresh due to an overabundance of chocolate. I will report back when I revisit.

                      Edit : also tried the repos in a side, pretty much the same result - if anything the sourness was more pronounced.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ncyankee101

                        Wow I just saw the 1 ltr bottles online at Merwin's - for $40!

                        From the prices I see in an internet search (from $14 to $43) it seems they are price testing in different areas trying to see what they can get for it - but I have a feeling it will go the way of Tommy Bahama rum, which was originally around $40 but didn't sell and is now $20 in my area. Even at $14 I would probably pass it by and go for the Espolon at $20,

                      2. I thought that all Tequila is supposed to be 100% blue agave. But not so for all Mezcal. Am I mistaken?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: kagemusha49

                          To be called tequila does not require that it be 100% agave. But if it is, it will clearly say so. There is a lower tier of tequilas that are called mixto, that include additives of unclear origin and quantity. The better mixtos are passable in mixed drinks but not for sipping. At the bottom end, there is rot gut tequila for a few dollars a 5th, which one can assume is of perilously inferior ingredients and manufacture.

                          The same for mezcal. The best mezcals are of course 100% blue agave but don't need to advertise it. The best of the best are not made in commercial export quantities, and you have to go to Jalisco or nearby to find them.

                          In my experiences living in that region, I enjoyed the best small batch mezcals more than the best tequilas, but both can be remarkable.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            I agree with you on the mezcals - though I have not had the opportunity to travel to Mexico, I have had the chance to try a few decent brands recently.

                            . I tend to like strong smoky Scotch and adding the element of smoke to a strong agave flavor profile was quite interesting. I found Sombra to be a little one-dimensional - smoke smoke and more smoke - but the relatively inexpensive Semillero joven and anejo were quite good, and a higher-end one - Pierde Almas Dobadaan - was very complex and well-balanced. Also tried the Fidencio sin humo, where the agave is roasted in an autoclave instead of underground, and there was no smoke but tasted like a flavorful tequila.

                            I plan to pick up a bottle when I order from hi-time wine at some point in the future.