The Tequila Festival 2018: Tequila

Let’s stay with alternative spirits and focus on mezcal & tequila and The Tequila Festival that came to Acklam Village, London in August 2018.

Tequila Festival Entrance.jpg

There’s a standard ‘whisky festival model’ that is now well established & widely adopted. A guide to good festival organisation includes:

1] Free and easily-accessible supply of drinking water

What kind of message do you think organisers of a festival would send if they failed to provide water stations or disallowed water to be brought in, on one of the hottest days on record? [Drink irresponsibly,…. or pay £2 for 50cl].

2] Spittoons

What kind of message do you think organisers of a festival would send if they failed to provide spittoons? Drink irresponsibly!

3] Glassware

Whisky festivals tend to favour the Glencairn or the Bugatti Kelch whilst RumFest for example offers the Copita. Can you imagine being offered instead those hopeless little plastic cups used at travel retail outlets. Here’s hoping they would be made of vegetal plastic, because hundreds of people can get through a lot of one-sip ‘shot’ cups.

4] Promotion & education

Drinks festivals promote interest in spirits, bottlers, brands and the industry. What kind of message,…. if you were asked to “hurry up”, when asking questions about various brands on offer, by hired staff with little or no knowledge about spirits or even bartending.

Tequila fest bar.jpg

At The Tequila Festival, the £20 ticket only gets you through the gate, so the full cost is more than it looks on paper. Commonly, whisky & rum festivals charge an up-front fee with free pours thereafter, though plenty of festivals [like Old & Rare & Limburg for example], operate a pay-as-you-go system. It worked out fine in the end as two £20 drinks tickets between two was enough to try & share most of the 30 mezcal’s & tequila’s on offer.

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Let’s get to the juice. The philosophy I currently deploy in life is ‘Start with the best, because you may not make it to the end’. With that in mind, I started with the mezcal and finished with the tequila – but reversing it textually makes for a better story.

Post-ordered by score, here’s the tequila. Astonishingly there were no reposado’s, not one!

 

El Jimador Blanco [2018]  Ob. Hand-harvested tequila 38%

El Jimador Blanco 38%.jpg

Isn’t it interesting that the most popular products we are regularly supplied & purchase are of consistently low quality. That’s the food & drinks industry all over.  80% of the food & drink we purchase in the UK comes from 4 companies. Choice, ha!

  • N: Butyric vodka.
  • T: Plastics.
  • F: Vodka with suggestions of orange, leading to memories of vomiting on Screwdrivers in Prague as a teenager.
  • C: Purely a mixer.

Scores a near miss

 

Whilst we are here, I recently polished off a bottle of El Jimador and here are my thoughts.

El Jimador Reposado [2014] Ob. tequila 40% [75cl] WF73

Friends and I procured this bottle from duty free after a trip to Mexico in January 2014 – my 1/3rd share coming to me in 2017. It’s a shame I knew nothing of mezcal or tequila back then. Reading the back label, this is 100% agave produced at Casa Herradura in Jalisco.

El Jimador Resposado.JPG

  • N: Light, mildly lemon-sweet, aperitif liqueur [Serge: Grand Marnier], & gin-like, herbal & leaf-spiced, clean non-offensive Tequila.  
  • T: As Serge says ‘Cologne-y’, and with a touch of hairspray also. I taste the cactus and find the spirit mildly prickly and unsatisfying.
  • F: Nothing more to add, except lime, salt and sweeteners! Appropriately, we’ve a short dry-green cactal finish.
  • C: This bottle lasted some years which tells you something. Non offensive.

Scores a near miss

 

[Back to the festival fayre]

El Espolon Tequila Blanco.jpg

 

El Espolon Blanco Ob. [San Nicolas] 40%/80 proof Difford’s

  • C: Cocktail juice from Campari.

Scores 76 points

 

 

Cazcabel Blanco.jpg

Cazcabel Blanco [2018] 38%

  • N: Chlorine, ozone and sweet-vegetal salad leaves.
  • T: Cloying & meandering.
  • F: A little tedious, concluding with metallic herbal notes. 
  • C: In very similar territory with what’s gone before.

Scores 76 points

 

Fortaleza Blanco 40%.jpg

 

Fortaleza Blanco [2018] Ob. tequila 40% WF79

  • C: With notes of [butyric] baby sick, waxy vanilla and glycerine, there’s much of a muchness with the El Jimador.

Scores 76 points

 

 

Patron Silver [2018] Ob. tequila 40% [WF – info]

Patron Silver 40%.jpg

  • N: Whilst merely hinting at mezcal this stays very safe, sweet and accessible. Glenmorangie-like says the Foz – bingo!
  • T: No surprises.
  • F: Short.
  • C: Super, light & fun mixer.

Scores 76 points

 

Calle 23 Blanco.jpg

Calle 23 Blanco [2018] 40%

  • C: Here’s a standard neutral/clean mixer that’s supposedly popular with bartenders. With a well rounded finish – savoury/waxy to taste – it appears a tad more [desirably] edgy later on.

Scores 77 points

 

Don Julio Blanco [2018] Reservade [#0323772] 38%

Don Julio Blanco reservade 38%.jpg

  • N: Concentrated/dense, metallic~coppery column still-like nose. This could be a hard hitter on the palate.
  • T: We’re fine, but then it’s rather predictable.
  • F: Becomes more industrial as it completes its journey.
  • C: There are glimpses/moments certainly, but that’s all.

Scores 77 points

 

Maestro Dobel 40% 750ml.jpg

Maestro Dobel Silver [2018] Ob. tequila 40% [750ml]

  • C: This will get your windows super clean, an untempered, direct, slap-in-the-face tequila that the shot drinkers here today should love. Finishes with hot prickles and a building heat. The Mannochmore of tequila perhaps? – and in that respect I like it, for its boldness.

Scores 78 points

 

Gran Centenario Blanco 38%.jpg

Gran Centenario Plata Blanco [2018] Ob. tequila 38%

  • N: Industrial emulsion notes like you’d find in column still grain whisky.
  • T: Same again.
  • F: Metal cactus.
  • C: Not terrible but disappointing given the desirable bottle shape/label design.

Scores 80 points

 

Ambar Blanco [2018] Ob. Tequila 38%

Ambar Blanco 38%.jpg

  • N: We’ve a decent reader that speaks of dusty vodka with nettles, unripe berries, some maltiness and key lime pie.
  • T: The palate is fine though the complexity on the nose doesn’t quite hold up. With a mild toastiness, it’s fairly innocuous.
  • F: Slides down and slides away with a dry-ish vegetal quality and a touch of toasted bitterness.
  • C: We are slowly getting somewhere.

Scores 83 points

 

Villa Lobos [13/01/16] Ob. Tequila blanco #4020 NOM 1139 40%

Villa Lobos Blanco 2016 4020.jpg

TWE: ‘Villa Lobos Blanco is a collaboration between Carlos Camarena (master distiller of Ocho and Tapatio) and Dale Sklar (managing director of Wine & Spirit International).’

  • N: Grrr to these plastic cups though the gems will still stand out despite them. Nothing really to speak of here other than soft herbal vodka.
  • T: With clean form and a nice mouthfeel, there’s no edge at all (Ilegal Mezcal is the one for that). Develops with a herbal vanilla chew, a touch of mineral chocolate and a suggestion [or more], of salty coastal notes.
  • F: Form & finish are as straight as a die, with a nutty husky result.
  • C: Flawless. Just don’t look for a treasure trove.

Scores 84 points

 

Herradura Plata [2018] Ob. Tequila Original 40%

Herradura Plata 40%.jpg

  • N: Peas, sweet & sticky airborne notes of a Gelateria and wafts of sweaty vegetal aromas outside a small greek airport.
  • T: There’s a pastry sweetness with little body.
  • F: Slightly lacking with a grassy savoury-sweetness.
  • C: Could be a batch differential, but this appears a little flat. It’s promising throughout however, so the benefit of the doubt has been given.

Scores 85 points

 

Ocho 8 Blanco [2018] Ob. Single estate tequila 40% [50cl]

Ocho 8 Single estate.jpg

Ocho claims to be the world’s first single estate vintage tequila. ‘Single Estate’ means that all agave’s used to make this tequila have come from one specific field, after 8 years average growth on this occasion.

  • N: Oh Ocho yes! Finally we have ourselves a malternative, on the nose at least.
  • T: A good initial development leads to weakish dry cognac vibes. Surely there’s some ageing here?
  • F: Long, complex, sweet savoury creamy vanilla finish.
  • C: Very good & available tequila and a contender for the best in show

Scores 86 points

 

Casamigos Blanco Tequila [2018] Ob. #23015 [GC-RG-MM] 40% WF64

Casamigos Blanco #23015 GC-RG-MM.jpg

  • N: Sashimi plastic fruits, aromatic fruity curried honeycomb and many things in-between.
  • T: Oh yum, fruity plastic ice-cream. There’s some body missing but it’s not too profound in this case.
  • F: More nutty vanilla ice-cream notes leading to a Feast Bar/Crunchie bar combo with a herbal minty-ness running throughout. 
  • C: The Glen Scotia 15yo of mezcal perhaps? Edgier than the Herradura and equal to the Ocho.

Scores 86 points

 

Next comes the mezcal!

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END

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Tequila Festival hats

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