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Aug 23, 2013 10:12 PM

Margarita Tequila Semi-Finals Round 1: Blind Tasting Results.

Aug. 23, 2013: Blind tasting of 5 silver tequilas: Avion, Don Julio, Milagro, Patron, and Tres Generaciones.

Each margarita was mixed 40% tequila, 60% base mix.

Base mix established per prior recent tastings on this board is: 37% orange liqueur, 37% fresh lime juice, and 26% organic agave nectar
The fresh lime juice is approx. 50-50 sweet limes and key limes, slightly more sweet lime. Orange liqueur is about 60-40 DeKuyper O3 - Citronge, to add the citronge punch to the DeK elegance

Glass is not salted. Blind tasting results follow:

1: Okay, sort of flattish, nothing jumps, nothing not to like…

2: Much more interesting, lip-smacking, complex, lingering. This tequila really accents the mix.

3: Luscious. Let's the citrus shine, a bit more refined than 2. I like the brightness and sharpness of 2 a bit better.

4: Even made my eyes water slightly, puckery, lip smacking…. Still tasted head to head, there's a brightness to 2 that is not quite as developed in 4… Not sure I prefer 4 over 3 either… At this point it might be 2 tops, 3 and 4 tied (slightly leaning to 3)… Let's try 5

5: A big flavor but comes across a bit "syrupy". Definitely prefer 2. It's like the flavors of 5 don't pop or evolve as much, at least with these ratios… Nothing not to like either… I think I prefer the poppy brightness of 4 over 5 too…

Back too 1, was I too harsh on it? Not really, sort of a heavier syrupy quality, similar to 5, probably prefer 5 slightly over 1.

SO, from these little sips, definitely the edge to 2, 3, and 4, with 2 being the standout from this tasting.

Review 4 vs. 3: 4 is a strong, bold, yet evolving complex drink… 3 just pops more on the front notes, but maybe doesn't linger quite as much as 4? All in all have to say slight preference for 3 over 4 because of the immediate impact of the front flavor impressions.

NOW for the moment of truth. With my integrity for true objective blind tastings on the line…

Drink 1: Don Julio
Drink 2: Can you believe this…. Patron !!! Which has CONSISTENTLY topped my prior tastings… NOW, this isn't to say that Patron is one bit better than what you like… just to say that consistently to this tasters palate it is THE margarita tequila to beat….
Drink 3: Milagro
Drink 4: Tres Generaciones
Drink 5: Avion

SO: On the other side of the Semi-Finals, the next flight will pit Siete Leguas vs. Corzo vs. Tesoro vs. Casa Noble

I will pick the top 2 from that tasting and pit them against Patron and Milagro in the Ultimate Blanco Margarita Finals…

UPDATE: W/ remaining base mix I concocted yet a 6th marg using 50-50 patron and milagro. This is just insanely good and may be better than either by itself in the cocktail. The brightness, multiple flavor dimensions, the mid and back notes are just great... And the Citronge punch is not be be overlooked... just having that extra splash of Citronge, not as the dominant orange essence, but as an "accelerator" of that essence.... really brings it to this drink.

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  1. 24-Aug-13
    Semi-Finals #2 in search of Ultimate Tequila for Ultimate Margarita….

    The 4 tequilas: Casa Noble, Don Eduardo, El Tesoro Platinum, and Espolon.

    Corzo was not included due to nearly $50 price tag. I'm not looking to stray much past the mid 30's for this tequila, though can and will certainly go higher if something so sensational comes around. Siete Leguas will be included in the Finals.

    Preparations are otherwise identical to Semi-Finals #1 in original post.

    All margaritas tasted blind, I knew the 4 tequilas involved, but not which one was in which glass. Actual real-time tasting notes follow:

    Drink 1: Yum. Very nice. Great up front flavor, nice mellow mid-burn, mild lip-smackiness. Nice medium-complexity.

    Drink 2: Hmmm… Not as sure about this one. More singular, syrupy on first impression… sort of "lays there". On 2nd tasting a bit more complex… re-tasting 1 is definitely a palate preference. This contrast brings out an interesting "black pepper" backnote of 1. So, at this point prefer 1, though 2 is hardly distasteful.

    Drink 3: Really nice, lingering, evolving. Still evolving. 3 really brings out the citrus notes of the base mix, whereas 1 brings it's own "pepper" notes to the drink. Both 3 and 1 are most interesting right now. Let's try 4.

    Drink 4: This drink is nothing not to like, but it's not making nearly the up-front impression that 3 is. A margarita is the type of drink that I like to have really get my attention from the get-go, and 3 accomplishes this more…

    NOTES: Tenatively, my preference is probably: 3 and 1. Let's compare 2 and 4: 2 is mild and tangy up front, 4 has an almost medicinal up-front impression. Not crazy about either but favoring 2 over 4 as it seems a bit more elegant yet still tangy…

    SO, it's 1 vs. 3 head to head. BOTH of these will move on to the finals against Patron, Milagro, and Siete Leguas. But let's see if I can find a preference between them. 3 is very well-balanced, very citrusy, and very ELEGANT. 1 definitely has the stronger overall flavor punch and that curious pepper note that I'm not sure I love or like, or the drink is great despite it…. But it's unique….

    This is really a tough call… After one last head-to head tasting, I honestly have to rate this a tie!!

    NOW, to reveal what I've been drinking, drumroll please….

    Drink 1: El Tesoro Platinum
    Drink 2: Espolon
    Drink 3: Don Eduardo
    Drink 4: Casa Noble…

    We now have the brackets set for the final tasting: El Tesoro vs. Don Eduardo vs. Patron Vs. Milagro vs. 7 Leguas

    May the best tequila(s) win!! Can't wait for delivery of the Siete Leguas!

    UPDATE: Did my usual follow-up margarita, combining the top-two tequilas from this semi-final round. It's interesting that at least on first tasting I'm finding that these two if anything "cancel each other out"... it's like the pepperiness of El Tesoro disappears in the elegance of Don Eduardo, and the whole drink isn't as elegant as D.E. by itself.... in contrast to Patron and Milagro which combined beautifully.

    2 Replies
    1. re: TombstoneShadow

      I would love for you to throw in a wild card. My fave margarita. A mixto, Sauza Conmemorativo`.

      1. re: phantomdoc

        Interesting and thanks for the recommendation. I will definitely try it when doing an Anejo Margarita experiment. At this point the project is focusing only on blancos. I'm thinking that the base mix will have to be re-adjusted for Anejo to make up for the significant difference in in flavor from blanco to anejo. Like perhaps a more delicately-flavored orange liqueur may be needed. Combining Citronge with anejo may be a real mis-match for example (or maybe a pleasant surprise in the right proportions).

    2. Aug. 25, 2013. Straight tequila blind tasting.
      Contestants: 4 of the 5 blanco tequilas I'll be including in the Margarita Finals

      All tasted blind: I knew which 4 tequilas I was sampling, but not which one was in which glass.
      Actual tasting notes follow:

      Drink 1: Mildly scented. Smooth, mildly warming but not burning. No seriously distinct flavors noted.

      Drink 2: A bit stronger scent and taste. Elicited a cough. Slightly more burning… Perhaps some pepper or earth flavors present? Otherwise I find the "taste" of tequila to be frustrating to describe…If I'm going to sit around sipping EITHER 1 or 2, somehow I think I might go for 1 because it's smoother, and the "additional" flavors of 2 aren't worth the additional harshness. This isn't to say that the sharper edges of 2 might not be more interesting in a tequila cocktail.

      Drink 3: Very smooth. The most moderately scented of the first 3, almost to the point of no scent. There's sort of a singular flavor you might loosely call "metallic" to this. While 1 and 3 are definitely on the smooth side of the spectrum, 1 has a bit more zippiness and brightness, yet is still quite sipp-able, so I might apt for 1 over 3 here. But don't really crave either or hate any of the first 3…

      Drink 4: This is a bit weird. Has sort of an "ugghh" response on first sip… This has a really weird taste, unlike the others, and not as interesting. Definitely my least favorite of the 4 on first round of tasting.

      On re-taste:
      3: very soft and mellow. 1 similar but brighter at every margin. A re-taste of 2 has me suffering just a bit… tequila can elicit some unusual flavors, I got a little heavier
      "earthy pepper" on that one and wasn't loving it as much the first time around. 4 again, just not crazy about these predominant flavor notes but will keep an open mind on them in a margarita…

      NOW, for the moment of truth, WHAT have I been drinking???

      Drink 1: Milagro
      Drink 2: El Tesoro
      Drink 3: Patron
      Drink 4: Don Eduardo

      This is interesting because Don Eduardo really shined in margarita last night, so I'm still open-minded on it. Also interesting because Milagro and Patron were my two faves of first margarita semi-final and they are my top 2 sipped straight tonite…

      UPDATE 1;Sampling a mixture of 50-50 Milagro and Patron straight…. Yummy…. Loving this… almost a faint sweet edge here… more complex, more evolving… very nice….

      UPDATE 2: Interesting that at the end of this tasting I took the remainder of Drink 4 (my least fave tequila of the group), and belted it all down in one slurp…. And liked it a lot more than sipping!! Perhaps Tequila is "designed" to be taken in larger gulps like that rather than sipping? Yet another angle to explore down the road.

      5 Replies
      1. re: TombstoneShadow

        The first issue is that you treating blancos as sipping tequilas, which, in general they are not.

        This aroma wheel may help you define and describe what you're tasting better -

        1. re: DiningDiva

          Thanks Diva... So if they aren't for sipping (which I'll sure agree with based on those I've tried to this point), are they for straight drinking at all really, or are they intended more for cocktails?

          And if for straight drinking what's the method? To down the whole shot at once, or in two gulps or? Does a follow-on or pre-taste of lime or anything else help when drinking them otherwise straight?

          Lastly, is any particular glass helpful to bring out the flavors of this stuff?

          The aroma wheel is good. I assume it's just by accident my eyes immediately fell on the word "kerosene" :)

          On the subject of aroma, a worthwhile point I've noticed after many blind tastings over the years is that drinks that have interesting aromas to the nose do not always follow through with interesting flavors in the mouth, and some that have little in the way of aroma have incredibly interesting overall flavor.... that's one reason I will often not describe much in the way of olfactory-only impressions. In full disclosure that wasn't so much the case from memory with these tequilas (i.e. the prominent pepper nose of Tesoro certainly came through).

          1. re: DiningDiva

            Gonna have to disagree with Diva. A good blanco is, in general, an excellent sipping tequila. In fact, there is an argument to be made that blancos are the best type of tequila because it contains more of the essence of the agave flavor. Furthermore, you don't have to worry about paying big money for an anejo that's been unfortunately over-aged, or a reposado that costs a bit more and probably didn't really benefit all that much from its brief time in the barrel.

            I use a glencairn for drinking tequila, just like I do for other booze.

            Also, shooting a decent liquor is just barbaric, and a waste of good booze. You shoot booze because you don't like the taste but you want to get drunk. You can do that with any booze, so why waste the flavor of a well-made liquor on a drinking practice that involves tasting as little of the stuff as possible?

            I recall last July 4th when my GF and I went to one of her friend's parties. This girl had received a bottle of Don Julio Blanco as a birthday gift from a family friend who enjoyed tequila. What we found was she and her boyfriend had put it out with shot glasses, a salt shaker, and lime wedges in case folks wanted to do shots. I was horrified by this, and her friend was stunned when I poured a heavy dram in a glass and slowly sipped it for an hour. In her friend's mind, the only way anyone could drink tequila was to slam it down with salt and lime. The ignorance that cheap tequila and college drinking have imparted to folks regarding good tequila is just sad.

            1. re: The Big Crunch

              Point taken.

              A good blanco often does have a more forward agave flavor. It also has some rougher (sometimes even harsh) edges, a bigger, bolder "bite" with the first sips. Definitely more assertive than either a reposado or añejo.

              1. re: The Big Crunch

                Agree 110% Crunch - I also use a Glencairn. I actually generally prefer the blancos in most of the tequila brands I have tried, though what I choose on any particular day can depend on what I am in the mood for.

                I let a couple friends try one of my blanco tequilas one time, they thought it was "hard core" (their words) that I actually held it in my mouth and swished it around, like most people do with wine.

          2. Just out of curiosity, how much money have you dropped over the last few weeks on this taste test? It seems to me that for the amount of money you spent on tequila (which you say you don't like) and orange liqueur, that you could have essentially set up a pretty well stocked home bar capable of making hundreds of different cocktails.

            3 Replies
            1. re: The Big Crunch

              I thought I made it pretty clear I like margaritas.... If there were a financial short-cut to giving the various teqs and secs a try I would have taken it... for example, just ordered some Corzo minis rather than a full bottle. But alot of these aren't available in less than 750mL's and at the end of the day, if you want to sample a good cross-section of these beverages you have to pay to play.

              Given the quality of the margaritas this experiment is producing, I'm thrilled with the results and find it a good investment in long-term chowish enjoyment.

              Since I do have a ^%$#load of extra tequila on hand I would appreciate any recipe recs on OTHER tequila cocktails anyone finds particularly delicious.

              1. re: TombstoneShadow

                Palomas are a great summer drink. If you like pineapple juice you can try a Matador.

                You can also try infusing some of your extra tequila. 2 of my favorite infusions are dried chile (and specifically chile de arbol chiles) and jamaica. Use in you Margaritas as you normally would for a change up every now and then.

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  +1 on Palomas being a good summer drink ....