Ah, Tequila. It may bring back memories, it may erase them altogether. But tequila is more than just Mexico’s most popular spirit, bought off a cheap liquor store shelf, drunk by Americans with determination. Good tequila is a spirit to savor, and the world is growing more conscious of the fact that tequila is Mexico’s version of Scotch or bourbon. Casa Noble Añejo Tequila ($70) is one that sits on the top shelf.
When it comes to tequila, there are stark differences between good and bad. The crap stuff is typically adulterated with additional alcohol, caramel and corn flavoring. This makes the bad tequila harsh, and we all know the burn going down. Genuine tequila comes from Mexico’s native blue agave plant, and when a tequila is made from 100 percent agave, it’s a far cry from the frat-house flavors of the bottom shelf stuff. Casa Noble makes some of the best 100 percent agave tequila around, and they’ve been doing it since the 1700s, when they started in Tequila, Jalisco, the spirit’s namesake. It also happens to be one of only three organic tequila producers on the planet.
The world is growing more conscious of the fact that tequila is Mexico’s version of Scotch or bourbon.
Before even pouring the first glass, you’ll notice the prominent bottle. As with higher-end spirits, the aesthetics can add to the imbibing experience, and with this first impression, Casa Noble does not disappoint. Their handblown, square-with-rounded-edges purple glass bottle and metal-medallion label is gorgeous. It’s a distinction, a departure from the José Cuervos of the liquor shelf and something I’m proud to serve my fellow booze snobs.
The Añejo is Casa Noble’s finest product. It’s aged for two years in French white oak casks and distilled three times (Añejo tequila aging requires a minimum of one year, but the top-enders go as long as three years). The liquid pours out a gentle golden color, both sweet and peppery on the nose. The front end of the first sip pops with a bitter but light chocolate flavor, then immediately transitions to sugary caramel and tangy orange peel. None of the flavors are remotely harsh or overpowering. The finish is long but tapers off with light tones of bitterness and vanilla sweetness. The complexity and smoothness are bolstered by a developing personality that’s as creative as small-batch bourbons and 12-year-old whiskies.
I served it up to some friends who appreciate fine spirits. After the initial sip, all three of them responded with pleasant responses. Casa Noble Añejo has earned Gold and Double Gold medals at international spirit competitions, and boasts the complexity of flavor that quickly will earn this tequila an honored spot on your bar cart. After a half an hour, the bottle was three-quarters gone, and three men gently sipped its high-end contents over good conversation. “This is tequila?” one of them asked rhetorically, then took another long, slow sip.