Tequila. There is no other liquor that commands such a visceral reaction. For some, tequila-powered margaritas have been a reliable go-to at relaxing happy hours and lazy beachside resorts. For others, the mere mention of that word invokes a cringe-worthy response as hazy memories of cheap tequila shooters fueling poor decisions and questionable behavior during wild nights out — and the inevitable morning after — flood their brains.
But much like we all have, today’s tequilas have matured. You no longer need to mask its taste in syrupy cocktails or fear its sharp bite. Today’s tequilas are refined; their distillers are equal parts scientists and artisans who want their creations to be enjoyed and relished. Here, we highlight three craft tequilas at the top of their games.
Tears of Llorona
Beginning as the distiller’s personal reserve, Tears of Llorona is a rare, handcrafted tequila created from combining the traditional processes of small batch extra añejo tequila with techniques borrowed from the world of fine cognacs and Armagnacs. “Tears is the most personal expression of my knowledge, intuition and skill taught to me by my father,” said Master Distiller Germán González Gorrochotegui. Every step of the distilling process has been painstakingly selected to deliver a layered tasting experience, including aging the tequila for five years in three types of barrels: Islay scotch, Spanish brandy and Spanish Sherry Oak. While Gorrochotegui recommends that his patrons enjoy Tears by itself, he also has a recommendation for the type of vessel to use as well.
“I am a purist, so my recommendation for all types of tequila would be the Riedel Tequila Ouverture Glass or a Glencairn Whiskey Glass.”
“I am a purist, so my recommendation for all types of tequila would be the Riedel Tequila Ouverture Glass or a Glencairn Whiskey Glass. Because of the shape of the glass, when you are pouring the tequila, it allows oxygen to get in and the flavors to come out. The interesting thing about the tequila glass is the stem, so you don’t have to warm the tequila with your hands. A white wine glass will do this also. They all have really nice shapes and allow the smells to come to your nose.”
Tapatío Excelencia Tequila Extra Añejo
Tapatío Excelencia Tequila Extra Añejo is proof that terroir — the natural environment including the soil, topography and climate — is just as important to craft tequila as it has been for fine wines. Hailing from the highlands region of Jalisco, Mexico, which is the heart and soul of tequila country, this tequila has a long history behind it. “La Alteña Distillery, producer of Tequila Tapatío, is a family business built by my grandfather, Don Felipe Camarena, in 1937, following his grandfather’s steps on growing agave and producing only 100% agave tequila in the highlands of Jalisco since the last part of the 19th century,” says Master Distiller and CEO Carlos C. Camarena.
“All tequila produced at La Alteña in the past 83 years of history has always been 100% agave and made by hand.”
“All tequila produced at La Alteña in the past 83 years of history has always been 100% agave and made by hand, using only artisanal and traditional methods.” Makers of different tequilas for different occasions, the Tapatío line of tequilas also includes two blancos and a Reposado, which is aged for six months in former bourbon barrels made of American oak.
Tequila Casa Dragones Joven
While it’s the youngest of the three tequilas featured here, Casa Dragones Joven has nevertheless turned many heads in the craft tequila world. Made exclusively from the finest blue agave plants individually selected by the maestro tequilero, Casa Dragones Joven is multiple-distilled with pure spring water originating from the Volcano of Tequila. The distilling process is then finished by adding a hint of extra añejo tequila that has rested in new American oak barrels for more than five years, and the brilliant platinum color is achieved using an ultramodern filtration system. Each limited edition Joven bottle is pure, lead-free crystal and individually engraved using the traditional and graceful Mexican pepita technique.
“Each bottle of Casa Dragones Joven is hand-engraved, hand-signed and labeled.”`
“Each bottle of Casa Dragones Joven is hand-engraved, hand-signed and labeled, as a testament to our commitment to quality and Mexican craftsmanship,” said Bertha Gonzalez Nieves, the co-founder and CEO of Tequila Casa Dragones. Joven’s distinctive bottle design was named the winner of Grand Prix Stratégies du Luxe in the product design category, making it the first Mexican brand to receive this prestigious recognition.