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Seeking My Go-To Margarita Tequila

t
TombstoneShadow Aug 12, 2013 09:23 PM

In prior threads I've compared blind tasting results for various orange liqueurs, and various preliminary margarita recipe combinations.

Those threads became a bit bogged down in philosophy and off the track of actual tasting results, which is the point of this quest.

I'm told in prior postings how savory a great tequila is, what a nectar of the gods it is, how much I should "honor" it... so the Shadow did a blind tasting of 4 very reputable silver tequilas:
Milagro silver
Patron silver
Sauza blue silver
Tres Generaciones silver

ALL of these are 100% blue agave, supposedly well made by great craftsmen... The Tres Generaciones alone set me back $50, for which I could have purchased two incredible german rieslings, 6 bottles of a mind-blowing imperial stout, A great zinfandel with cash back,.. Two bottles of ambrosia rum with cash back... a monumental bourbon with $20 bucks back... a nice Sauternes... you get the idea... so for $50 I should be blown away, yes? too much to ask?

Bear in mind, I WANT to find something special... something that is right up there.... DId Silver Tequila deliver? Let's find out...

As I've tried to explain, to a chorus of boos in prior posts, I don't find tequila straight to be nearly as interesting as any number of other beverages, but I do love a great Margarita, hence this tasting endeavor.

All 4 were tasted blind, I knew the identity of the tequilas, but not which was in which glass... Here are the actual tasting notes:

1: hint of soft orange in the scent. Medium to heavy burn even from a sip. No lingering distinctive flavors, no harsh flavors either. Sort of "neutral clear alcohol"

2: Less burn on the sip, more lip-smacking quality. Again, no lingering distinctive flavors, nothing harsh either. Just more neutral clear alcohol… Somehow I think I prefer this over 1 as an "amplifier" of margarita flavors…

3: Kind of "heavy", ponderous… just sort of sits there, not as lip-smacking & brightening as 2. Again, no distinctive flavors, nothing unsavory either… just neutral clear alcohol

4: Last chance… let's see if there's anything special about this… Maybe a little more "complex" than the others… But is this going to be magic in a drink? 3 is "smackier" on the palate as compared to, 4 maybe softer / warmer…

OKAY:
So 3 premium top-shelf silver tequilas, and one mid-shelf… While NONE of these bring any meaningful "flavors" to my palate, at least two of them have a distinctive "lip-smacking" value, and I'm thinking that's a good thing in a margarita… SO, let's test 2 vs. 3…

2: Hmmm… the flavors are subdued, but did elict a "hmmm"… 3 is more just un-distinguished burn…

I'll go with 2 as my "silver tequila of choice", with caveat that there just wasn't that much
discernable difference between ANY of these, and none of them were so foul I couldn't stand another sip, i.e. all 4 would probably work in a margarita…

Also must be said that NONE of these even remotely compare to a good glass of wine, a nice port, a good imperial stout, a great barleywine, a nice bourbon, nice rum… any nice liqueur… They are silver tequilas, nothing more or less...

DRUMROLL PLEASE as I peek and see what I've been drinking:

1 Sauza blue silver
2 Patron Silver
3 Tres Generaciones silver
4 Milagro

Well I'll be a Monkey's Uncle… Patron Silver wins it !!! Tres Generaciones a very nice second. Sauza Blue Silver and Milagro Silver, both would work fine for margarita purposes.

At the end of the day is there ANYTHING in this tasting that says "750mL is well worth $50?" Answer: *&^% No. Did I find some good spirits to make one of the main flavor notes of a great Margarita: I think I did!

Next: I'll try a taste off between several high-end reposado tequilas, but as I've noted in the initial margarita blind tastings, in general I think silver tequila ("blanco") brings more to a margarita than a reposado does, the latter just being too soft. However, the reposados and anejos may be more interesting to sip, we will see.

  1. Alcachofa Aug 21, 2013 10:18 AM

    Truly curious: how did you make this (and the other tests) "blind"? Maybe I missed it somewhere, but did you have a co-conspirator doing the pours, etc, and then letting you know how the numbers lined up?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Alcachofa
      davis_sq_pro Aug 21, 2013 12:34 PM

      "One word: Plastics."

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/884444

      1. re: davis_sq_pro
        Alcachofa Aug 21, 2013 12:46 PM

        Oh, thanks. I should've searched his screen name.

      2. re: Alcachofa
        t
        TombstoneShadow Aug 21, 2013 04:35 PM

        Easy....

        Single blind tasting: You know the beverages, you just don't know which is in which glass. Doesn't matter who pours them, as long as the glasses are scrambled and you don't know which is in which.

      3. a
        antimony Aug 20, 2013 02:25 PM

        If you want more strong agave, perhaps you should try adding a bit of mezcal to your marguerita. Sombra is my personal favorite at the price range I stick to (which is ~Milagro, not ~Patron).

        1. The Chowhound Team Aug 20, 2013 02:18 PM

          Folks, we've had to remove a number of increasingly testy responses from this thread. If someone makes a point that you don't agree with it's fine to rebut that point politely, but when it deteriorates into a lot of back and forth everyone needs to step back a bit.

          1. t
            The Big Crunch Aug 17, 2013 11:02 PM

            Casa Noble and El Ultimo are fantastic, and so cheap. I'm not a tequila expert, but those two are fine for sipping, make great margaritas, and are very budget friendly.

            I'll also back the notion that there is a law of diminishing returns in using premium liquor in a mixed drink. Furthermore, in terms of using an anejo, I would think the dry tannic notes form the wood aging would be either wasted or unwanted. Seems you'd want a rich, clean, direct agave taste with a hint of sweetness, which seems more in line with a blanco.

            Also, just to touch on the rum digression... I just got back from Costa Rica and one of the highlights was spending a week working my way through a bottle of Havana Club barrel proof. Talk about nectar of the gods... :)

            1. mrgreenbeenz Aug 15, 2013 05:03 PM

              Despite having top-shelf prices all the tequilas you tasted were mass-market. In my limited experience the ultimate aim of a 'top-shelf' mass-market tequila is 'exceptional smoothness,' This is certainly the case with Patron - a tequila I wouldn't spend $20 on. The best example of this would be the $80 msrp Azul tequila. The beautiful ceramic bottle is worth $20 at least but I'd rather fill it with something else.

              I prefer tequilas that let the vegetal element shine through a little more. I've been drinking a lot of Herencia these days but my usual mass market go-to is Cazadores. Also fond of Corralejo. All of these can be bought for around $20 a bottle. For the $50 price point, gun to my head, I'm in CVS and need to buy the fanciest tequila available, I go with Herradura.

              7 Replies
              1. re: mrgreenbeenz
                n
                ncyankee101 Aug 15, 2013 06:26 PM

                I think you meant Clase Azul, the $80 one in the ceramic bottle.

                I also love Herencia, especially at Hitimes price of $20.

                1. re: mrgreenbeenz
                  nokitchen Aug 22, 2013 09:57 AM

                  I'm surprised I don't see some more Cazadores love in this thread. It really hits the right not for me with Margaritas, being just vegetal enough and with a decent non-lime citrus note. On the very rare occasions I want some straight tequila, Cazadores isn't it -- I go to a good bar/restaurant and let an expert lead me. But I also don't make sangria with Petrus.

                  1. re: nokitchen
                    t
                    TombstoneShadow Aug 22, 2013 10:08 AM

                    Cazadores has been mentioned more than once, have to get it on the rotation. The silver tequilas I haven't tried that have gotten repeat kudos are: Cazadores, El Jimador, Casa Noble, El Ultimo and Siete Leguas. Of those the only ones avail on the shelf around here are cazdores and jimador. Doubting they'll make much difference but will give those 2 a try sometime soon. Guessing they are about in the middle on the harshness vs. smoothness spectrum of blanco tequilas?

                    1. re: TombstoneShadow
                      nokitchen Aug 22, 2013 10:16 AM

                      In the middle to maybe just a little bit on the smooth side. Jimador is also a good mixing tequila (it's Herradura's mass market blend) and even less expensive than the Cazadores.

                      1. re: nokitchen
                        t
                        TombstoneShadow Aug 22, 2013 10:31 AM

                        Interesting..., where does that put Herradura... a bit smoother, more elegant or?

                        1. re: TombstoneShadow
                          h
                          hawkeyeui93 Aug 22, 2013 10:40 AM

                          For less money than Patron, you may very well enjoy Herradura Silver. If my memory serves me correctly, it is a little smoky with a minute hint of citrus and would make a nice margarita. My Herradura Double Barrel Reposado is a nice sipper.

                          1. re: TombstoneShadow
                            nokitchen Aug 22, 2013 10:46 AM

                            The Herradura seems a little earthier to me, though I've only had it a couple of times so my memory could be faulty. When I'm going for a non-mixing tequila I really like the vegetal, earthy varieties more. I wanna be reminded what plant it comes from and I usually let the bartender lead me to one of the newer artisinal dealies or a recently re-discovered small batch.

                  2. Beach Chick Aug 15, 2013 03:06 PM

                    Chinaco
                    Sauza Tres Generaciones

                    1. DiningDiva Aug 15, 2013 02:52 PM

                      TS

                      Margaritas are my 94 year old mothers favorite drink and I've been making them for her for a long, long time. As a result I've had an opportunity to use many different brands of tequila and taste the results. She's like you, she doesn't really care what the tequila tastes like as long as the drink tastes good. I, on the other hand, do care about the tequila. But that said, here are the brands I've had the most success with

                      * El Jimador, hands down the best and most economical choice for an everyday, standard Margarita

                      * Siete Leguas, my favorite.

                      * Milagro silver

                      * LunAzul, this is a cheap, funky brand, but it makes a quite decent maggie

                      * Corazon Blanco, okay, not my fav.

                      * Gran Centenario Plata

                      * Not a fan of the Espolon blanco, but the reposado makes a nice maragrita and it makes a really good infused tequila

                      * Cazadores

                      * Corzo is on the higher end, but does make a very good drink

                      * Also not a fan of Cabo Wabo, but the grocery store up the street from my house often has the silver on sale for $16.99-18.99 a bottle. It makes a respectable margarita but don't attempt to sip it straight...not good.

                      * Fortaleza reposado is very light bodied and suitable for margaritas.

                      I use Citronge instead of triple sec or cointreau. The orange component in a margarita is actually controy which is not available in the U.S. Citronge is made by Patron to mimic controy. Not everyone likes it, and some think it tastes like gasoline. And I have to agree, tasting it straight is not particularly pleasant, but it works in the drink like a charm. I like it because it's not as sweet as cointreau and since the key limes I use for juice often need a good hit of agave nectar, the citronge prevents the drink from becoming overly sweet.

                      Earlier this summer I got a last minute request for margaritas and was out of citronge and the only orange liquor readily available was Hiram Walker triple sec. It worked just fine and was actually quite good in the drink.

                      I've made hundreds of margaritas, what works best depends upon what works best for the person drinking it. For me there is not one single brand of tequila or orange. It changes as I do...

                      28 Replies
                      1. re: DiningDiva
                        t
                        TombstoneShadow Aug 15, 2013 05:21 PM

                        Very nice contrib, Dining...

                        Of your list, Milagro silver was one of the 4 blancos I tasted in this experiement...

                        Of greater interest are your comments on Citronge. I really like it straight, and although it didn't fare as well blind against DeK O3 and Gran Gala for me, that doesn't mean it's not a good margarita candidate as shown in the following blind tasting:
                        Very interesting "matrix" blind tasting of 5 tequilas against 3 triple secs. Top 3 combos: Tres Generaciones & Citronge, Milagor & Cointreau, Sauza blue & DeKuyper. Worst 4: milagro & citronge, sauza & cointreau, avion & cointreau, hornitos & cointreau. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05...

                        What this group did was to blind taste 5 vodkas (or 6?) against 3 different triple secs. One of the top 3 combos was TG and Citronge. However, one of the bottom 4 combos was Milagro & Citronge. The tasters explained their findings by saying that a strongly-nuanced liqueur like citronge needed a stronger tequila, whereas it overpowers a softer-tequila, or something to that effect: strong with strong, soft with soft, so you end up with a balanced drink.

                        Thanks again for the great list, alot of good info there!@

                        PS: It may have been you who gave me the hint on using key limes. I just bought a bunch and will try them in a blind tasting matrix of my top-scoring tequila and triple sec vs. both "regular" and key lime juice. I love summer :)

                        1. re: DiningDiva
                          n
                          ncyankee101 Aug 15, 2013 11:02 PM

                          Just curious - when you say El Jimador is hands down the best bargain - have you tried El ultimo agave? It actually costs less, the blanco can be found for $13-15. The Tequila whisperer, a well-known, entertaining and well-respected Vlogger who does weekly reviews on his site, had it as his best bargain (<$20) tequila for a very long time, not sure if it has been unseated.

                          I have had El Ultimo in stock at all times the last couple years, but now I consider Costco's Kirkland brand my best bargain mixing tequila. It is nearly as good as El Ultimo, perhaps a little earthier, but substantially less expensive at around $20 for a 1.75.

                          1. re: ncyankee101
                            h
                            hawkeyeui93 Aug 16, 2013 07:59 AM

                            Yankee: So, did you learn anything about my Sam's Club tequila [Calle Azul Anejo] from the NOM? I was curious about what you uncovered.

                            1. re: hawkeyeui93
                              n
                              ncyankee101 Aug 16, 2013 10:09 AM

                              No, the NOM doesn't match anything listed in the database at Tequila.net - which is odd, most NOMs have at least a half dozen brands associated.

                              1. re: ncyankee101
                                h
                                hawkeyeui93 Aug 16, 2013 01:16 PM

                                Here's what I got when I googled it ... http://www.tequila.net/advanced-tequi...

                                The back of the bottle says it was Made in Mexico by Destiladora Gonzalez Gonzalez S.A. de C.V. and Imported by the Sazerac Company, Inc.

                                1. re: hawkeyeui93
                                  n
                                  ncyankee101 Aug 20, 2013 01:13 PM

                                  hawkeye - I can't find your original post, but I must have entered the NOM incorrectly when I searched on tequila.net.

                                  I have the entire lineup of El mayor, though I have only opened the blanco, which I like. it's a little sweet and earthy, but quite decent.

                                  1. re: ncyankee101
                                    t
                                    TombstoneShadow Aug 20, 2013 01:33 PM

                                    So when I take this tequila, and add orange liqueur, agave nectar, and fresh squeezed lime juice on top of it, will those "sweet and earthy" flavor notes still be the DOMINANT flavors of the margarita?

                                    1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                      n
                                      ncyankee101 Aug 21, 2013 11:02 AM

                                      Geez you just like to argue for argument's sake don't you?

                                      I don't recall anyone saying the tequila would be the DOMINANT flavor, we have only been saying that using a better tequila (or at least one with more agave presence) does matter in a margarita, .

                                      In fact once I thought about it, I wouldn't necessarily say using a "better" tequila is the answer. Many of the better sipping tequilas have subtle flavors that probably wouldn't cut through the lime, though some such as Casa Noble and Siete leguas would. Clase azul and Maestro dobel are probably too mild tasting to hold up, though many people love them (I've never had either). Don Julio 1942 is over $100 and one of the most widely acclaimed sippers, but I would never dream of using it in a margarita as it would disappear.

                                      A couple I have used since this discussion started that have worked well are blancos from Lunazul and Tenampa azul (a Gran centenario brand). Neither is particularly pleasant to sip, but both have a lot of flavor and the tenampa has a very unusual taste but makes an interesting marg.

                                      The argument is much the same for caiparinhas, where rough industrial cachacas are preferred to the fine aged sipping cachacas which are more mild don't hold up to lime.

                                      1. re: ncyankee101
                                        t
                                        TombstoneShadow Aug 21, 2013 04:41 PM

                                        Okay... so if I include casa noble, lunazul, and/or el ultimo in the next tasting round, that should about cover the waterfront. Either one or more of those really pops as some miraculously complex tequila with profound flavors the others are lacking OR my palate just isn't that impressed by tequila on it's own, although I very much like how it combines with the other ingredients in a margarita cocktail.

                                        I'll take that challenge... skeptical but willing to give it a shot (i.e. not cynical)..., just have to locate or more of those teqs.

                                        Regardless I'm very comfortable with the go-to tequilas and recipes I've identified to this point, the margaritas are delicious, so there's nothing to lose. At the end of the day I suspect there MAY be a tradeoff in that the tequila that's not the best for sipping neat (i.e. a little bolder) may actually prove to make the more interesting cocktail.... and that's fine too if it works out that way.

                                        1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                          t
                                          The Big Crunch Aug 22, 2013 09:29 AM

                                          "Okay... so if I include casa noble, lunazul, and/or el ultimo in the next tasting round, that should about cover the waterfront"

                                          No...it won't. Look, do you know how many tequilas are out there? If you're going to be so serious about this, then quite frankly, you ought to try at least a hundred tequilas and another 5-6 orange liqueurs.

                                          Listen, If you like Margaritas, you'll probably be drinking them for the rest of your life, God willing. Do you really think that picking out 3-4 orange liqueurs and 6-7 tequilas over a week or two in August 2013 will allow you to once and for all settle the question of the perfect Margarita. In ten years you may have sampled another two dozen tequilas, and made drinks with all of them. That's part of the fun of the whole thing. I'd just say, relax, enjoy the drinks, don't be so uptight about making a really simple cocktail. My guess is that if you look back at this thread in your thirties, you'll feel a bit awkward at how earnest and self-serious you made something as simple as mixing a margarita. In the grand scheme of cocktails, it's neither a particularly sophisticated, elegant, or complicated drink. Tasty? Yeah, definitely, but if you're this OCD about a citrus tinged tequila sour, then God help you if you ever discover Mai Tais.

                                          1. re: The Big Crunch
                                            t
                                            TombstoneShadow Aug 22, 2013 10:01 AM

                                            Definitely OCD about my drinks... having drank enough bad beer, bad wine, bad whiskey, bad rum, much of it way over-priced, life's too short to drink anything but what really pops for me..

                                            "... do you know how many tequilas are out there?..."

                                            That's just it, there aren't that many varieties of silver 100% agave tequila... it's on a spectrum from harsh & bold to well-smoothed. That spectrum can be categorized into 3, maybe 4 meaningful gradations. From what I can tell it's a matter of choosing where on that spectrum your preference lies, then experimenting with the few "flavor" differentials of silver tequilas in that smoothness category.

                                            Same story if someone prefers a reposado for margaritas, for example... then identify where on that flavor spectrum you want to be and taste around various bottles for their subtle nuances (which may or may not survive being mixed into a complex cocktail like a margarita).

                                            1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                              DiningDiva Aug 22, 2013 10:54 AM

                                              "That's just it, there aren't that many varieties of silver 100% agave tequila..."

                                              I thinkt that's a function of U.S. liquor distribution. There are literally hundreds of 100% agave silver tequilas out there. Most, however, never make it to the U.S. so we're kinda stuck with what we can get, not necessarily what's available

                                              1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                                t
                                                The Big Crunch Aug 22, 2013 11:12 AM

                                                "That's just it, there aren't that many varieties of silver 100% agave tequila... "

                                                Tequila.net lists 330.

                                                1. re: The Big Crunch
                                                  t
                                                  TombstoneShadow Aug 22, 2013 11:57 AM

                                                  Those are brands, not "varieties".

                                                  Those 330 will cluster into several common flavor categories, not 330 beverages with such distinction as to be meaningfully different in a margarita cocktail.

                                                  1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                                    t
                                                    The Big Crunch Aug 22, 2013 12:39 PM

                                                    Different bottlings have different flavors and are thus different varieties. My point is simply to reiterate that any small sample of mostly lower-priced blanco tequilas is far from definitive, which is why I still see the effort , expense, and self-seriousness of this whole thing to be a bit absurd. It's really a very simple drink. Tequila straight is far more complex and interesting.

                                                    1. re: The Big Crunch
                                                      DiningDiva Aug 22, 2013 02:16 PM

                                                      "Tequila straight is far more complex and interesting"

                                                      YES! YES! YES!

                                                      1. re: The Big Crunch
                                                        t
                                                        TombstoneShadow Aug 22, 2013 02:56 PM

                                                        The flavor "differences" are so miniscule as to be irrelevant IMO, beyond a few general categories... NOTHING approaching the flavor differences in other beverages...

                                                        There's zero doubt in my mind I could go through all 330 of those blanco tequilas and they will reasonably cluster into well less than 10 meaningful "flavor" categories for purposes of a margarita cocktail.... probably not more than 4 or 5 categories for the whole lot.

                                                        Goes to show you the differences in palate also, I find a margarita to be infinitely more interesting in flavor than straight blanco tequila... no comparison.

                                                        If this were only about tequila for tequilas sake, wouldn't even be tasting them, there's just far far too many other more interesting spirits, beers, liqueurs and wines out there. Just one person's taste impression, not saying you haven't found something that's the most scrumptious thing under the sun for your palate and I fully respect that.

                                                        BTW: One serious problem with the Tequila.net website is the lack of statistically significant number of reviews, and total lack of control over the conditions of those reviews and/or identity of the reviewers. MANY of the so-called "top rated" tequilas only have a few ratings. The most frequently rated tequila of all, Casa Noble Crystal only has 23 ratings. Two others are in the 20s, then it drops down to 15 after the 5th tequila, and steadily declines from there to the majority of bottles which have well under 10 reviews. Who puts any stock in a tequila rating with just 3 or 4 reviewers where you have no idea what conditions those tequilas were tasted under (blind, not blind, reviewing a tequila I'm already convinced is my favorite... etc. etc.)??? Not to mention that on many many review sites of all sorts the first dozen reviews are all by the manufacturer or proprietor "seeding" their own ratings. By contrast there are many beers on ratebeer with hundreds of reviews, some with over 1000.

                                                2. re: The Big Crunch
                                                  DiningDiva Aug 22, 2013 10:50 AM

                                                  This is really good advice. One of the things I really like and find fun about cocktails is changing them up with products that are different or new to me. It's surprising how subtle (and not so subtle distilling practices) can create such a range of tastes and flavors. It opens up the palate and helps one determine what they do, or don't like, about particular foods and beverages.

                                                  I first started making margaritas 35 years ago using a recipe I found on the back page of an old Gourmet magazine. I tried it on a lark, and trust me, 35 years ago no one was using fancy tequila. I didn't even like either margaritas or tequila much back then and I can't tell you what made me decide to try the recipe. And I can pretty much guarantee you that I probably used Cuervo Gold, whatever triple sec the liquor store was selling and probably a couple of fresh persian limes. But that drink was a revelation because it wasn't a sicky sweet or slurpee cold. Changed my perspective. So I started making the drink for all my friends and they were wowed too. Yes...we were really young :-D

                                                  The original recipe was a 2:1:1 tequila, triple sec, lime juice and a tablespoon of granulated sugar. In 35 years I've probably tried close to 50 different tequilas, 7 or 8 triple secs and have moved from persian limes to key limes and I've used at least 7 or 8 forms of sweetened. The drink I make now has very little resemblance to the drink I made 35 years ago. The only thing I still use from that original recipe is the 2:1:1 ratio. If I end up with a bottle of tequila I don't like, I make an infusion, usually with jamaica, and then use 1 part regular tequila and 1 part infused tequila; the resulting drink is usually pretty decent.

                                                  I think I make a better drink now days, but I'm also more critical about the balance in the drink. My palate is a lot more discerning an able to recognize when the drink isn't quite working. One of the by-products of trying so many different types of liquor in a standard margarita is that I learned to drink and enjoy tequila by itself. As a result I'm much more likely to take my tequila straight rather than in a mixed drink.

                                                  BC has a good suggestion, just relax, enjoy the drink and just try different stuff and see what you like. I bet your preferences will change over time as you palate changes

                                  2. re: ncyankee101
                                    DiningDiva Aug 16, 2013 08:23 AM

                                    I have not tried El Ultimo, in fact I'm not even sure I've seen it in my area. But tomorrow is Saturday, so I will go in search of it and see what I can find :-). Always willing to try a new to me tequila. El Jimador is very inexpensive here, usually in the $15-18 range, occasionally less depending on where you shop. It's clean and it's dependable and for the price a good deal for me.

                                    I already follow the Tequila Whisperer (although some of his videos are too long) and I am an occasional poster, but subscriber to Tequila.net.

                                    I am extremely lucky in that I live on the border and can be in Tijuana in less than 30 mintues where there are several liquor stores that sell only tequila. My focus for the last couple of years has been more on the resposados that are not imported into the U.S. that I can pick up in TJ and sample. We also have a local tequila store, but their prices are pretty stratospheric. So other than the tequila for my mother's maggies, which I do usually change up after each bottle, I sorry to say, I haven't been very attentive to the domestic market tequilas.

                                  3. re: DiningDiva
                                    h
                                    hawkeyeui93 Aug 16, 2013 07:57 AM

                                    I am not a fan of El Jimador, but some of the others you cite are good. Cabo Wabo is for some reason a premium tequila in my neck of the woods [North Central Iowa] and I refuse to try it for $40-plus. I wanted to like Citronge, but I felt it tasted like it was sweetened with artificial sweeteners and left a weird aftertaste. My preference is Cointreau, but my wife really likes Agavero Orange Liqueur [made out of a tequila base] and I have grown to like it.

                                    1. re: hawkeyeui93
                                      DiningDiva Aug 16, 2013 08:15 AM

                                      Cabo Wabo is expensive here in San Diego as well and for the life of me I can't figure out why. I find it disappointing, especially from the value/price standpoint. When I saw the blanco for under $20 I figured why not. It does make a nice margarita. As a sipping blanco, not so much.

                                      I understand where you're coming from on the Citronge. It's a niche product for sure and not to everyone's liking. I travel in Mexico a lot and in using Citronge I end up with a margarita that tastes more like the Mexican version of the drink than the American one. Cointreau is my back-up plan, but for me ends up making the drink too sweet.

                                      El Jimador here is very inexpensive and works just fine in a margarita. For me it's been a very consistent product with a clean taste and finish that works well in the drink...I only use it in margaritas, nothing else, not even a Paloma :-)

                                      1. re: DiningDiva
                                        h
                                        hawkeyeui93 Aug 16, 2013 08:37 AM

                                        I have been to Mexico enough to have had a Controy Margarita [or so I assume]. I intend to import a bottle the next time I go this Winter [and I may need to buy a second bottle of Citronge to see if it is similar]. I do not recall my last Mexican Margarita in Cozumel tasting the same as a Citronge Margarita [but without a side-to-side, it is hard to know]. The sweetness in Citronge reminds me of the same profile in New Amsterdam Gin. And more importantly, everyone has different tastes, etc. [and my taste buds could be dulled from years of eating spicy and savory cuisine, drinking, et al.]. I do not add any additional sweetener [or any other citrus other than fresh lime] to my margarita, so maybe that is why I like what Cointreau does for my margaritas. You may very well want to try Agavero Orange if you have yet to do so, as I feel that it falls somewhere between Cointeau and Citronge and makes a pretty good margarita. I have yet to try the high end De Kuyper Orange Liqueur that the OP seems to like.

                                        P.S. I would never turn down a El Jimador Margarita made well [and I do like Palomas]! :)

                                        1. re: hawkeyeui93
                                          n
                                          ncyankee101 Aug 16, 2013 10:12 AM

                                          I have tried the O3 from DeKuyper and have to say it is pretty comparable to Cointreau in a side-by-side neat tasting, I haven't compared margs made with each but I have been using O3 in my recent margs.

                                          1. re: ncyankee101
                                            h
                                            hawkeyeui93 Aug 16, 2013 01:16 PM

                                            I'm going to have to try it since it as least $10 cheaper than Cointreau I can buy locally ....

                                            1. re: hawkeyeui93
                                              t
                                              TombstoneShadow Aug 16, 2013 10:59 PM

                                              O3 is awesome... drinking it blind vs. cointreau, GM, and Citronge I find it to be a really elegant drink with great flavors and not as much burn as citronge.

                                              That said, it doesn't necessarily mean it's the best orange liqueur for a marg. The marg is such a strange drink in that you can really start with ingredients that aren't the "best" on their own and come up with a surprisingly delicious cocktail.

                                          2. re: hawkeyeui93
                                            DiningDiva Aug 17, 2013 05:48 PM

                                            I found the Agavero Orange this afternoon without too much problem, but it is on the pricey side. $44 for a bottle, which is more than I pay for Cointreau...and twice as much as the large bottle of Citronge ;-)

                                            I like regular Agavero anyway, so I was pretty sure I'd like the orange version, and I did. I like it straight, which is NOT something I can say for Citronge. I really liked the spicey notes in it, the orange was a good compeliment for them.

                                            So I went ahead and made a margarita with it. I was hoping I wouldn't have to use any, or at least not much agave nectar, with the Orange Agavero. Alas, that was not the case. Unfortunately, the key limes I was using were very tart and acidic and I needed extra agave nectar to balance the drink...and, as usual, it's too sweet for my taste. I did, however, enjoy the OA :-)

                                            1. re: DiningDiva
                                              h
                                              hawkeyeui93 Aug 17, 2013 06:29 PM

                                              I bought the Agavero Orange when I saw it on a clearance rack for $19.99. I agree that it is pretty tasty neat. I have yet to try the regular Agavero, but would love to sometime soon. Stuck in North Central Iowa, I generally use Persian Limes in my margaritas and my wife really likes it in a 1:1:1 ratio as recommended by Agavero. I dial it up to 2:1:1 and do find it a little sweeter than Cointreau, but still serviceable. If I go to Sam's Club or Costco, I can get Cointreau for $35. At my local booze store, it is $45. For $20 it is a solid Cointreau substitute, but for over $40, I would stick with Cointreau.

                                              1. re: DiningDiva
                                                t
                                                TombstoneShadow Aug 19, 2013 09:51 PM

                                                Diva my recco is to MIX the key lime and a sweeter lime. Each brings something to the table... but you'll probably still need at least a bit of agave no matter what.

                                      2. m
                                        MIKELOCK34 Aug 15, 2013 02:17 PM

                                        The tequilas that you mentioned are all low end tequilas. try Casa Noble Single Barrel Añejo Tequila. That is a good tequila.

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: MIKELOCK34
                                          t
                                          TombstoneShadow Aug 15, 2013 02:21 PM

                                          Yes, but the flavor of Anejo is so soft as to have very little bite to it, no? That's the reason Anejo is rarely recommended for use in margaritas...

                                          1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                            m
                                            MIKELOCK34 Aug 15, 2013 02:25 PM

                                            Not at all. The Casa Noble Single Barrel Anejo is very good.

                                            1. re: MIKELOCK34
                                              t
                                              TombstoneShadow Aug 15, 2013 02:34 PM

                                              It may be "good", question is whether anejo in general is the best tequila to use for a margarita... you think it is? to my palate it just results in too soft a cocktail, although it's more interesting to sip straight than a blanco.

                                              1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                                m
                                                MIKELOCK34 Aug 15, 2013 02:47 PM

                                                There is no question. Good tequila is good tequila whether in a Margarita or neat.

                                                1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                                  n
                                                  ncyankee101 Aug 15, 2013 10:50 PM

                                                  TS - The Casa Noble anejo is one of the few anejos that somehow manages to retain a good bit of agave character, which usually becomes overshadowed by the wood in other anejos. I personally find it a little sweet for a margarita, and I generally prefer not to change the character of the drink by adding wood into the mix. The Blanco does make a great marg though.

                                            2. re: MIKELOCK34
                                              n
                                              ncyankee101 Aug 15, 2013 04:47 PM

                                              Making margs witn a $100+ tequila would be a waste, the regular anejo costs about half as much and would work just as well.

                                              1. re: ncyankee101
                                                m
                                                MIKELOCK34 Aug 15, 2013 05:31 PM

                                                Your statement is absurd. Using quality ingredients to achieve a quality end product is never a waste. Cost is irrelevant. It is the quality that makes the difference.

                                                1. re: MIKELOCK34
                                                  n
                                                  ncyankee101 Aug 15, 2013 06:02 PM

                                                  There is a point of diminishing returns, the regular casa noble is outstanding and would be fine and the nuances that make the single barrel special would be lost in a margarita.

                                                2. re: ncyankee101
                                                  h
                                                  hawkeyeui93 Aug 16, 2013 07:51 AM

                                                  Without entering the fray, I generally like to drink my $50-plus liquor neat .... and save my best bottles of tequila for a special occasion.

                                              2. v
                                                vegas Aug 15, 2013 01:52 PM

                                                anything more expensive than El Jimador Silver (100% agave) is a waste of $$$$ - ask any bartender in Mexico for a "Margarita Authentica" (en la roca, con o sin sal) and thats what you will get

                                                1. a
                                                  A_Gonzalez Aug 15, 2013 12:53 AM

                                                  I'll second nycyankee's vote for Espolon.

                                                  At the same time I'd be a bit wary of observations like "X is over-marketed crap, don't waste your money on it." With plenty of other spirits I've been surprised just how much I've enjoyed spirits that admittedly carry more weight in their brands than their reviews.

                                                  Though I'd also say, especially with popular/easy to find brands, it might be more economical not to invest in buying an entire bottle just for the sake of a sampling.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: A_Gonzalez
                                                    n
                                                    ncyankee101 Aug 15, 2013 01:25 AM

                                                    Be wary all you want - I will listen to the opinion of true tequila nuts on a site like tequila.net, many of whom have tries literally hundreds of tequilas over decades of tequila obsession, as opposed to buying a brand just because of relentless advertising or omnipresent shelf placement tries to tell me it is an "ultra-premium" brand.

                                                    Tell me the truth - look at my list of the finest sipping tequilas, and tell me how many you think the average person has ever heard of. These companies put the money in the product, not the marketing. That is why Espolon is $26 here in NC ($23 on sale) while Patron is $49.

                                                    Even the highly marketed Tequilas that ARE good, such as Avion are generally overpriced - at $45 here in NC, it doesn't stand up to some comparably priced brands available here such as Casa Noble or El Tesoro, and not even close to top brands found elsewhere such as Fortaleza.

                                                    Also, sadly enough there are several brands that at one time were outstanding, then were bought out by conglomerates, marketed more highly, and production processes changed to more mass-produced methods - and the quality has gone down. This happened to herradura in 2002, and while it is still a decent tequila (I'm sipping some as I type this), it is no longer held in the regard it once was - though pre-2002 "treasure bottles" are highly coveted.

                                                    1. re: ncyankee101
                                                      a
                                                      A_Gonzalez Aug 15, 2013 02:32 PM

                                                      Hey, I never said you shouldn't listen to the opinions of tequila nuts online. I've used tequila.net myself in the past, and I've found it to be very useful.

                                                      I just think it's important when a person is exploring for themselves to not treat those opinions as some kind of hard-line rule. Even if they're helpful, I think it can be more worth it to make that comparison first-hand. No one can speak to what you enjoy as well as you; that's all. I understand the backlash against all the hype/marketing of certain brands, and agree that a lot of products have popularity and a price tag that I wouldn't consider worth it. But at the same time, I think you can always get a better perspective from trying something and judging its value for yourself.

                                                      So yeah, I'm not saying that claims from online communities of "X is worth it, Y isn't" are wrong or uninformed. I'm just saying, sometimes I don't personally feel the hype backlash is deserved, at least as far as my own tastes go. So while I think community reviews/online sources can be very helpful, I'd still take those views with a grain of salt until I've tried a product for myself.

                                                  2. n
                                                    ncyankee101 Aug 14, 2013 10:57 PM

                                                    Again, not one of those is one I have ever seen recommended as "top tier' by any true tequila lover I have corresponded with. Before you waste any more money on over-marketed crap go here and read some threads

                                                    http://www.tequila.net/forum/general-tequila-discussions/

                                                    or some reviews here

                                                    http://www.tequila.net/tequila-review...

                                                    I gave you several recommendations of what I consider good "inexpensive" mixing tequilas. Probably the easiest to find of these is Espolon, which IMO (and most others') for $20-25 is a decent sipper and better than any of the 4 you tasted.

                                                    For the $50 you spent for tres generaciones you could have had almost any of the finest sipping blanco tequilas around (provided you can find them locally or order them). Fortaleza, Casa Noble, Siete Leguas, Crotalo, T1, El Tesoro, Don Julio,Don Agustin, Cuervo de la familia Platino, Herradura (though the last one is not what it used to be 10 yrs or so ago according to most, it is still quite decent). Siete Leguas made the tequila that built Patron's reputation up until 2002, when Patron started distilling their own, and it is still one of the most highly respected brands by tequila lovers - though most people have never heard of it. I found the blanco online for $35 and it is outstanding.

                                                    One last thing that is very important - perhaps because of the relative subtleness and delicacy of agave flavor, the better tequilas I have had nearly always improve greatly in flavor after being open a few days or a week. My favorite Blanco is Casa Noble, but when it was freshly opened I didn't particularly love it. The same thing happened with a recently purchased bottle of Don Julio Blanco.

                                                    For the record I had a chance a while ago to order Tres Generaciones anejo for $25 - and I passed.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: ncyankee101
                                                      t
                                                      TombstoneShadow Aug 15, 2013 01:34 PM

                                                      WADR... "finest sipping blanco tequilas"...

                                                      The bottom line I'm finding is that tequila is tequila on my palate... there's no distinctive appreciable flavor to any of it (again, my palate)...

                                                      People talk about silver tequila like it's ambrosia right up there with great scotch or bourbon... it just isn't... A great IPA or stout for example, is so much more impressive to me.

                                                      Double blind tasting of 7 tequilas... Top 2 are Asom brothers and Sauza Blanco (to the drinker's surprise):
                                                      http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/34/other-other-topics/double-blind-tequila-taste-test-497030/index3.html

                                                      Blind tasting of 22 blanco tequilas: Top 4 are cabo wabo, tres generaciones, riazul, and alma de agave:
                                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-lohS9VlUs

                                                      Mowry Journal's amazing "cross-test" to find their perfect tequila. Result, top 2: Don Celso (a reposado), and lunazul blanco:
                                                      http://mowryjournal.com/tag/tequila/

                                                      Very interesting "matrix" blind tasting of 5 tequilas against 3 triple secs. Top 3 combos: Tres Generaciones & Citronge, Milagor & Cointreau, Sauza blue & DeKuyper. Worst 4: milagro & citronge, sauza & cointreau, avion & cointreau, hornitos & cointreau. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05...

                                                      I do greatly appreciate your reccos, but for my palate I'm just not finding enough distinction from one blanco tequila to the next, and as long as it's not offensive, the addition of the other ingredients to a Margarita so overwhelm the basic tequila "flavor" (whatever that is), as to make it that much less critical.

                                                      This all said, I'll definitely shadow tequila.net and again greatly appreciate the recco... maybe it's just my palate > I have a great deal of discernment of other spirits, beers, wines... just haven't found it with tequila.

                                                      1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                                        n
                                                        ncyankee101 Aug 15, 2013 01:43 PM

                                                        I actually quite like Asombroso - and Don Celso repo is highly regarded and one of my favorites, though not easy to find. I have alma repo and it is quite good.

                                                        Not sure I place a lot of credence on a taste test posted on a poker forum by some guys who had formerly had a "vodka night" and "pinot noir night".

                                                        1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                                          n
                                                          ncyankee101 Aug 16, 2013 12:55 AM

                                                          My last reply to this post was rather hasty because I was getting ready to leave for work, and my other replies last evening were from my phone while at work.

                                                          I wanted to address a few points in your post. I think the reason you are not finding enough distinction between these tequilas for your palate is because, as Mr greenbeenz said, these are all mass-produced more or less generic tasting tequilas.

                                                          It was interesting to me that in the poker forum taste test above, the only tequila I would have recommended - Asom Broso, which at one time was one of my top 5 blancos, and probably still top 10 - was far and away the favorite. It has a very unusual and distinctive taste, I have seen it described as having an anise or licorice taste to it, though I don't usually get that. (Interestingly enough, I often pick up different things on different days, probably due to the delicacy of agave taste and differences in my palate from day to day.)

                                                          Some other brands I find distinctive:
                                                          Herradura, which has a flavor some describe as bubble gum.
                                                          Corralejo is spicy and peppery.
                                                          El tesoro is briney and sometimes described as green olive - doesn't sound all that appealing, but it is very interesting and good.
                                                          Casa Noble - very earthy, complex, I have seen descriptions ranging from buttercream to forest floor.
                                                          30-30 is minty.

                                                          There are two basic types of Tequila, highland and lowland. These each have their own flavor profile, though they are not as distinct as in Scotch regions, and there is some overlap.

                                                          Highland tends to have a more fruity and crisp taste, and is more what the "classic" tequila taste is. The best example of this in my experience is Siete leguas.

                                                          Lowland tends to be more earthy, with flavors and aromas sometimes described as "clay" or "play doh". Casa noble is a great example.

                                                          One thing I noticed is that it seems your preferences tend toward having your palate bludgeoned - stouts, IPAs, Bourbon. I can associate because my first love - and still favorite - is Islay Scotch, especially the peat monsters Ardbeg, laphroaig and lagavulin. I also like Bourbon (and Rye), but have gotten away from really hoppy beers the last couple years. Still love me some Dogfish Head 90 minute though.

                                                          Tequila is much more subtle and delicate, and to be honest I have trouble getting some of the nuances that those with more sensitive palates can discern.( I also have a hard time picking up differences between gins. )

                                                          On a side note - I finally got ahold of a bottle of Southern Tier Choklat while on vacation, it vanishes quickly around here. Very good and worth the wait, one of the best imperial stouts I have had.

                                                          1. re: ncyankee101
                                                            t
                                                            TombstoneShadow Aug 16, 2013 03:56 AM

                                                            "One thing I noticed is that it seems your preferences tend toward having your palate bludgeoned"...

                                                            Never exactly looked at it that way, but you're probably right... and when you think about it, a margarita cocktail is a "bludgeoning" cocktail in itself.. really smacks us in the face.

                                                          2. re: TombstoneShadow
                                                            t
                                                            The Big Crunch Aug 17, 2013 11:38 PM

                                                            If there is no difference to the flavor of any tequila you try TS, then why are you making such a big deal about trying to find the perfect tequila for your margarita? Just by whatever is cheapest.

                                                            1. re: The Big Crunch
                                                              t
                                                              TombstoneShadow Aug 19, 2013 09:50 PM

                                                              Crunch the devil is in the details. There are absolute differences... and I'm only tasting good tequilas here, despite anyone's protestations to the contrary... just did a heads up of Don Julio Reposado and Anejo blind vs. Patron Repo and Anejo... liked the DJ Reposado better, the Patron Anejo better... not that I like either a repo or anejo in my palate preference for a marg... I do prefer a blanco due to the extra zesty tartness in it....

                                                              But what really makes the difference in a Margarita is not really the tequila, sorry... all these good tequilas work to one extent or the other....

                                                        2. t
                                                          TombstoneShadow Aug 12, 2013 09:47 PM

                                                          Just realized another interesting factoid in this on-going experiment... on a prior preliminary margarita blind tasting, my favorite basic ingredient combination was Silver Patron and DeKuyper O3 liqueur:
                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/912770

                                                          With these results, finding Silver Patron the most interesting of the 4 blanco tequilas tasted, I can truly claim palate consistency, and that's a major sign that you've found the ingredients that suit you!

                                                          I should also note that in blind tastings, the Patron rum product (Pyrat) has consistently rated at the very top to my palate, it is a benchmark ambrosia rum....

                                                          Good luck on your quests :)

                                                          18 Replies
                                                          1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                                            n
                                                            ncyankee101 Aug 14, 2013 11:15 PM

                                                            Pyrat barely qualifies as a rum, I would call it an orange rum liqueur. If you like it try Clement Creole Shrubb, IMO infinitely better. I find the orange flavor in Pyrat to be artificial.

                                                            For a real non-flavored rum, try Pusser's navy rum, El Dorado 12 or 15 yr, Mount gay extra old, Santa Teresa 1796, Ron Abuelo 7 or 12 yr. Zacapa 23 yr and Zaya 12 yr are very good but a little on the sweet side for my taste, most likely doctored.

                                                            1. re: ncyankee101
                                                              t
                                                              TombstoneShadow Aug 15, 2013 01:24 PM

                                                              Orange rum liqueur? You must have tried something else.

                                                              But thanks for the other reccos!

                                                              1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                                                n
                                                                ncyankee101 Aug 15, 2013 01:29 PM

                                                                Tried something else? LOL - maybe most of these guys tried something else too.

                                                                http://www.rumratings.com/brands/671-...

                                                                1. re: ncyankee101
                                                                  m
                                                                  MIKELOCK34 Aug 15, 2013 02:22 PM

                                                                  The Pyrat Cask 1623 has an overpowering taste of crushed oranges. I agree that it tastes like an orange liquer. It does not taste like rum per se.

                                                                  1. re: ncyankee101
                                                                    t
                                                                    TombstoneShadow Aug 15, 2013 02:24 PM

                                                                    I'm okay with that range of opinion... I know what my palate likes and respect what these are saying...

                                                                    But anyone who mistakes Pyrat for a liqueur needs to visit an EENT doctor :)

                                                                    Thanks for the link to RR, btw.

                                                                    1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                                                      m
                                                                      MIKELOCK34 Aug 15, 2013 02:43 PM

                                                                      Have you tried the Cask 1623. The only flavor is crushed orange.

                                                                      1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                                                        n
                                                                        ncyankee101 Aug 15, 2013 04:44 PM

                                                                        Well it is quite sweet and has an distinct orange flavor - if you compare it directly to a genuine unadulterated dry rum such as Smitn & Cross, Appleton 12 yr or Mount Gay extra old, most people would say it is closer to a liqueur than to one of those.

                                                                        1. re: ncyankee101
                                                                          t
                                                                          TombstoneShadow Aug 15, 2013 05:39 PM

                                                                          Couple problems with the RumRatings list (which I otherwise am a big fan of what they are doing): 1: I suspect alot of their "scores" are not from blind tastings. While I still appreciate the ratings, it's hard for people not to bring personal predjudices to a tasting when they know what's in the glass; and 2) all of their higher-rated rums look to be very boutique releases that are probably priced above $30, yes?

                                                                          Still all-in-all a very respectable resource for a rum aficionado. I did quite a series of blind tastings last year for myself, looking for a go-to rum for a simple Cuba Libre. I've travelled the caribbean and central / south america extensively and fondly recall one evening of cuba's after the other down there.

                                                                          In my tastings I did some research then visited the wine shops to buy some bottles and compare. I just wasn't motivated to pay, for example $45 for ron zacapa even though I have very fond memories of the rum in guatemala. I really wanted to keep the price point in the teens or low 20's. Looking through my blind tasting notes of the straight rum:

                                                                          1: Appleton XV beats Bacardi white, Goslings, Myers Dark, and Bacardi Gold. My only notes read "a bit heavy on alcohol, but best so far with squeeze of lime".

                                                                          2: Next round pits Appleton XV, Appleton White, and Myers Dark. Winner is Appleton XV: "Sweet, clean finish, nothing dramatic"

                                                                          3: Next round: Pyrat XO beats Appleton XV and Appleton Special Dark. Notes read: "nice, sweet, floral".

                                                                          4: Last round: Pyrat XO vs. Appleton Dark vs. Flor De Cana 7 yo Gold vs. 10 Cane. Winner: Pyrat XO. Runner up: Appleton Dark.

                                                                          Pyrat just has a lusciousness in a cuba libre that I find very round and tasty AND it comes in at a sensible price point.

                                                                          BTW, here's another really good rum-tasting resouce: the RumXP, a blind tasting held annually at the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, you might like scrolling through their awards lists:
                                                                          http://www.rumrenaissance.com/Competi... There's 4 years of their tasting results.

                                                                          1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                                                            n
                                                                            ncyankee101 Aug 16, 2013 10:26 AM

                                                                            The problem with your comparisons is that those rums come from completely different styles and comparing them is apples and oranges.

                                                                            Appleton is a funky Jamaican - Myers and Goslings are dark rums - bacardi white and gold are junk - Pyrat is sweetened and flavored IMO.

                                                                            1. re: ncyankee101
                                                                              t
                                                                              TombstoneShadow Aug 16, 2013 10:54 PM

                                                                              The stylistic differences I'm not concerned about... I'm seeking the best mix for a cuba libre for my palate...

                                                                              You assert that Pyrat is adulterated with "sweeteners and flavorings", I'd love to see proof of that assertion. It's one thing to say that a given beverage has similar taste to this or that flavor, it's another thing to say that those non-standard flavors have been added to it.

                                                                              Lastly, in my own quest I've limited myself to rums costing $30 or less... I just don't want to be paying in the 40's, 50's and up for a rum for a cuba libre... At this point my go-to rums for that purpose are Appleton Gold and Pyrat... if you have any suggestions for bottles at or under $30, I'm all ears... most of those "top rated" bottles at rum ratings either are not available in my neck of the woods, or I strongly suspect are priced well over $30... For example, Ron zacapa is in the high 40's, low 50's around here. I'm just not paying that price for this purpose.

                                                                              1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                                                                JMF Aug 17, 2013 08:08 AM

                                                                                Rums as a category are the only one that has few regulations about adding flavoring, sweeteners, and coloring. In the US, blenders can add up to 2.5% additional flavors without declaring it on the label. In most countries there are NO regulations about flavoring or coloring rum. I am a distiller and have made rum, judge rum for competitions, on tasting panels for industry and trade magazines, and have visited and spent time at many Caribbean rum distilleries. I won't talk details about rum where I have been asked not to disclose info. But I have seen how rum blends are tweaked for flavor, both with just natural blends of rum from various barrels and distilleries, and from the addition of other ingredients.

                                                                                If any rum is very sweet, or has a lot of heavy spice or fruit notes, then it has almost always been been flavored. Many rums use molasses or caramel, sugar, raisins, other dried fruit, pineapple, spices like cinnamon, cassia, nutmeg, allspice, clove, peppercorns, etc. for flavor; and burnt sugar or caramel for color, etc.

                                                                                The naturally occurring flavors in rum are funky or earthy notes and hints of molasses, from the original molasses or cane syrup used. Then you get fruit and floral notes from the yeast during fermentation. Then there are the flavors picked up from barrel aging like bourbon / whiskey, sherry, cognac, and port. Since many of these barrels are used for aging rum to bring flavors into the blend. Also light spices, raisin, almond, citrus, vanilla, coconut, tannins, and assorted other wood notes that naturally occur in barrels.

                                                                                1. re: JMF
                                                                                  n
                                                                                  ncyankee101 Aug 17, 2013 09:09 AM

                                                                                  JMF - did you catch the admission by Ron Matusalem that they flavor their rums with vanilla and prunes?

                                                                                  I don't know the details, as the site where I read about it has gone down, but the whole thing was exposed when someone in the company expressed disgust that they had started using extracts instead of genuine vanilla and macerated prunes.

                                                                                  1. re: ncyankee101
                                                                                    JMF Aug 17, 2013 09:17 AM

                                                                                    No, I missed that one about them going to extracts.

                                                                                    Personally, with rum, I don't have a problem with using flavors by adding a handful of spices or dried fruit to a barrel or holding tank. It's part of the traditional rum making history. I do have a problem with the use of extracts and "natural" flavors, and a big problem with artificial flavors. I really dislike when a brand uses inferior rum and neutral cane spirit, then adds flavorings to hide the mediocre quality.

                                                                                    1. re: JMF
                                                                                      n
                                                                                      ncyankee101 Aug 17, 2013 09:37 AM

                                                                                      JMF - I have seen you express the opinion that the El Dorado line is sweetened - do you still feel that way?

                                                                                      To be honest, though the 12 and 15 yr are among my absolute favorites, I have begun to realize that you are probably right - though in this case, the sweetness is more subtle and tends to complement the robust flavors of the rum rather than dominate them, as in some others I have had. I find Ron Abuelo 12 yr to be very similar to the El Dorado 12.

                                                                                      One rum I had in the last year that was just over the top sweet is Ron Fortuna 8 yr. In that case the sweetness is cloying, and there isn't enough flavor to stand up to it. it is a shame because what flavors I do pick up make it seem like it might have been a decent subtle dry rum along the lines of the Flor de Cana 18 yr before they dumped in all that glycerin.

                                                                                      I did a little hunting and I found some info, apparently there was a lawsuit over the recipe between two family corporations responsible for Ron matusalem. This is all according to Capn Jimbo, whose rum project website vanished a few weeks ago.

                                                                                      1. re: ncyankee101
                                                                                        JMF Aug 17, 2013 11:19 AM

                                                                                        Almost every rum out there is sweetened to some extent. Even many of the super, ultra, premium. People who aren't rum fanatics rarely believe us who are. I have to let them taste some of the rums I have that are unsweetened that were prototypes for various distilleries from before and after blending for sweetness. I also like to do a vertical barrel age tasting with samples of rums drawn from the same barrel over its lifetime. Starting with just off the still, then dropped to barrel proof, right through to maturation, then after dropping to bottle proof, and then samples from rum left in the barrel to overage. It's amazing the flavor profile and changes, and how fast color develops, depending upon the type and char level, plus how many times the barrel has been used.

                                                                                        I feel that the whole El Dorado line is less sweet than it was 6-7 years ago. The blending seems better as well. I liked it when I first experienced it, but now I love it. I also find that the lower end of the line is amazing to use in cocktails, and I even use small amounts of the 12 yr. The price is so reasonable that the 12 yr. could be used all on its own in a cocktail.

                                                                                        I read about that lawsuit just today after your comment on the Matusalem. It must have been the same one you read because it was by the same person.

                                                                                        I also noticed that the rum project was down. Runs into issues quite a bit over opinions online. Here on CH as well.

                                                                                        I haven't the Ron Abuelo 12 in a few years, I have to revisit it. I don't even remember what the Ron Fortuna 8 is like. It must be at least 5 years since I last tried it.

                                                                                        Looks like a new thread could be started all about rums and flavor profiles and sweetness.

                                                                                2. re: TombstoneShadow
                                                                                  JMF Aug 17, 2013 08:08 AM

                                                                                  Pyrat is indeed both flavored and sweetened. The overwhelming orange/apricot is just not a flavor profile that occurs naturally in rum in that intensity. Pyrat is made by Anguilla Rums Ltd., which is owned by Patron tequila. From around 1997 it was blended on Anguila by Anguila Rums, which was a blender and bottler, but not a distillery. It is currently blended and bottled in Guyana. It is a blend of nine rums from various distilleries, but there is definitely some demerara rum from Guyana in the blend. You can taste it immediately in most batches. (There is only one current distillery in Guyana, but they own most of the stills from the former distilleries that they picked up over the years. They also have several bottling and aging facilities.) There are few other details about Pyrat available, but according to writer Camper English, in a discussion with Patron tequila master distiller Francisco Alcaraz who developed the current formula / blend for Pyrat rum; one of the components of its flavor comes from Pyrat being aged in barrels that formerly held orange liqueur. Now whether Camper was told the truth or not is questionable, since when orange liqueur components are aged, it is usually the spirit, before the orange peel, essence, extract, is introduced. Although Grand Marnier does age some of their product after blending. More likely orange peel or extract is added to Pyrat, but it sounds better to say it was aged in liqueur casks.

                                                                                  Here's links to Camper English and Wayne Curtis about that conversation.
                                                                                  http://www.alcademics.com/2010/11/the-orange-in-pyrat-rym.html
                                                                                  http://slowcocktails.squarespace.com/...

                                                                                  1. re: TombstoneShadow
                                                                                    t
                                                                                    The Big Crunch Aug 17, 2013 11:35 PM

                                                                                    I've just never found, albeit in my somewhat limited experience with rum and coke, that the rum makes that much of a difference. Coke is such a strong flavor that it makes a lot of the distinctiveness of any rum somewhat superfluous. If you like rum an coke, more power to you. It's certainly a tasty combo. However, obsessing over the flavor of rums in a rum and coke seems somewhat akin to obsessing over the picture quality of various blue-ray players that you plan on hooking up to a black and white TV.

                                                                                    1. re: The Big Crunch
                                                                                      t
                                                                                      TombstoneShadow Aug 19, 2013 09:47 PM

                                                                                      Ramble on all you guys want. The rum laws are very clear as to what each country does and doesn't allow. If you can prove that a particular spirit is blended beyond the laws of that country you can put that company's production in jeopardy, so prove it if you think they go beyond what the rum blending laws do and don't allow. Here are my most recent BLIND tasting results:

                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/913857

                                                                                      I take a "top rated" rum from rumtastings.com, taste it blind heads up against 3 others...

                                                                                      And my palate preferences are confirmed...

                                                                                      Something you should try sometime...

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