Today is a continuation of our brief divergence into the world of Tequila and our second flight made up of Reposado tequilas. In case you missed it, in Part I we started out with the unaged Blancos and now we are moving “up” to Reposados. As with our first flight, the three tequilas that Chris and Pete presented were Tequila Fortaleza, Herencia Mexicana and Roca Patron, all poured at the same time so we could compare side-by-side-by-side.
Before we get to the tasting notes, though, let’s add a bit more information about tequila to our knowledge banks! Here’s a quick description of the various styles of tequila that are found on the shelves:
Styles of Tequila
There are several styles and variations of Tequila and, like wine and whiskey, the flavors of Tequila are influenced by a number of factors, including geography, location, distillation method, and maturation. Tequila formally distinguishes the styles based on the duration of cask aging, or maturation, that the tequila undergoes. As with whisky, tequila is aged in oak casks and this maturation imparts color and impacts the flavor profile.
Blanco, or Silver, is the traditional Tequila that started it all and it has the true bouquet and flavor of the Blue Agave. Clear and transparent, fresh from the still Tequila is called Blanco and is “unaged”. Blancos are bottled immediately after the distillation process, spending no time in a cask.
Reposado, or Rested, is tequila that has been kept (or rested) in wooden casks or vats called “pipones” for periods ranging from two months up to one year. The oak barrels give Reposado a mellowed taste, pleasing bouquet, and its pale color. Reposado keeps the Blue Agave taste and is gentler to the palate. These tequilas have experienced exponential demand at higher prices.
Añejo, or Aged, is Blanco Tequila aged in white oak casks for more than one year, but less than three years, in casks with a maximum capacity of 350 liters (92.5 gallons). The amber color and woody flavors are derived from the oak casks and the interaction of the oak and the oxidation that takes place through the porous wood, developing the unique bouquet and taste.
Extra Añejo, or Reserva, is Blanco Tequila aged in white oak casks for at least three years. This is the “oldest” and rarest of the aging styles and, generally, the most expensive. The extra aging imparts more color, and the cask influence develops broader flavors.
The Tequilas: Part II – Reposados
Again, this flight consisted of three distinct tequilas from Tequila Fortaleza, Herencia Mexicana, and Roca Patron (left to right) – each flight served in the same order. It is a bit difficult to pick up in my high-quality photography, but these tequilas do begin to show a little color from their time in cask. Certainly it is subtle, but it is there…..I promise! And even though the time in cask is short, there is a definite and noticeable change in the flavors and aromas of the tequilas.
Fortaleza Reposado, 40% abv (Left)
Fortaleza is our series’ representative from the Lowlands area. Tequilas from the Lowlands tend to be a bit more herbaceous and with citric notes. As with all the Fortaleza tequilas tonight, this is bottled at 40% abv.
Color: Almost clear but with a soft yellow cast.
Nose: Sweeter on the nose than the Blanco, an almost toffee-like note, more citrus, softly earthy, herbal and slightly grassy.
Palate: An oily arrival. Starts with a big burst of sweet and tangy citrus, lemon and lime, and soft vanilla.
Finish: Vanilla, slightly drying – like a vanilla wafer.
Herencia Mexicana Reposado, 40% abv (Middle)
Herencia Mexicana is one of our two Highlands area tequilas and produces their tequilas in relatively small batches using a traditional tahona wheel.
Color: Again, like the Fortaleza, clear with a hint of yellow
Nose: more vanilla, caramel, a semi-sweet crème brûlée, raw agave leaves, and a soft floral note. Just a hint of the agave – baked agave? Fresh and “clean” on the nose.
Palate: Oily on the tongue, a sweeter, creamy vanilla, delicate citrus notes, softly earthy and more herbal.
Finish: Earthy, softly herbal, vanilla, a little more vanilla, and vanilla.
Roca Patron Reposado, 42% abv (Right)
The Roca Patron is another Highland tequila from the Patron distillery. Roca Patron is a “step up” in the line of Patron tequilas.
Color: softly yellow – more color than the other two Reposados.
Nose: Interesting! There seems to be a note of dried apricot that adds a uniqueness to the nose. There is some vanilla, soft herbal spices and a touch of citrus.
Palate: A big citric arrival, then the vanilla jumps in. The feel on the tongue is more creamy than oily. Touches of agave juice and softly earthy.
Finish: An almost “brandy-like” finish, quite surprising and very enjoyable! The citrus note becomes more orange, now, and the dried apricot note returns. Sweet vanilla the end.
Our flight of Reposados proved fine examples of the style and demonstrated how the cask maturation begins to impact the tequilas, expanding the flavors and aromas.
In this flight I found the Roca Patron Reposado to be the best of the bunch, and by quite a bit. I don’t know if this one spent relatively longer in the cask or if there is some other influence – possibly just the higher abv again – but the depth and complexity of the Roca was heads and shoulders above the other two. Next was the Herencia Mexicana for its “fresh” nose and taste – the big herbal and citric notes. The Fortaleza was good but seemed to be a little too narrow in comparison to the others.