Cava de Oro Tequila Extra Anejo

You could spend $100 on this incredibly sweet tequila.  Or, you could buy a bottle of agave syrup for $5 and a mid-range Blanco tequila for $20, mix them, and get basically the same result.  I got through the bottle by making Millionaire’s Margaritas, which were actually pretty tasty.

Millionaire’s Margarita

3 oz. absurdly sweet and expensive tequila, such as Cava de Oro Extra Anejo  or Clase Azul Reposado

1 oz. Grand Marnier

2 oz. Rose’s Lime Juice

Serve over ice in glass with salted rim.

Cost: For the Cava de Oro: $15 at home, $45 in a bar (at least).  For the Clase Azul, $23 at home, $70 in a bar.



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Clase Azul Reposado Tequila

As you can see, Clase Azul tequilas come in some of the most distinctive bottles out there, made in the mountainous Mexican town of Santa Maria Canchesda, population 1,750. There, the 180 or so employees, 80% of whom are women who grew up in poverty and with little, if any, formal schooling, decorate each bottle by hand.  The entire production process takes about two weeks. And the cap isn’t chrome-plated plastic.  Oh no.  It is metal, that drinkers will often strike to produce a little ring after the pour.  “You may have heard people talk about ‘ringing the bell’ on their Clase Azul bottle, which was actually discovered quite by accident” mentions Brand Experience Specialist Saskia Iha. “In order to use a more sustainable material, we redesigned the cap which happened to make a ringing sound when tapped just the right way. We now consider this sound the ‘unleashing’ of the magic inside the bottle.”  Okay.
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Codigo 1530 Tequilas

By Spirits Contributor Neal Kotlarek

Anyone keeping abreast of celebrity news knows that tequila is a hot market. In June2017, actor George Clooney and his two partners sold their tequila company, Casamigos, for around $1 billion. Their initial investment was $1.8 million. In May 2007, rock musician Sammy Hagar sold an 80%  stake in tequila company Cabo Wabo for $80 million.

Entrepreneurs Frederico Vaughan and Ron Snyder got the bug—or is it worm?—to start a tequila brand while they played a round of golf together at Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. Vaughan’s favorite local distillery is located in Amatitán where a family has been producing tequila for five generations. The tequila begins with fully-matured agave aged over seven years, which is cooked in stainless steel ovens, fermented utilizing a local organic family baker’s yeast, and distilled twice in stills handmade by the distilling family themselves.

“The secret of Codigo 1530 tequilas begins with the best blue agave in Mexico, the purest water in all of Mexico, and yeast from a local bakery,” confirmed Vaughan. “We then age the tequila in French Oak wine barrels out of Napa Valley.”

The varieties of tequila that come from this process differ based upon the resting time and the charring of the barrels.

Blanco is an unrested tequila that’s clear and pure. Rosa has a pink tint from the aging in the wine barrels and is a delicious sipping tequila. Reposado is aged for six months and serves up a smooth, vanilla and caramel flavor to pair well with food. (An 18 month old Añejo and six year old Origen are also available.)

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Camarena Tequila

Camerena TequilaWinter is behind us for yet another year, and even under quarantine, thoughts turn to relaxed evenings on the deck or patio, steaks or shrimp sizzling on the Weber, and something cool and refreshing in the glass. A crisp Chardonnay or ice-cold beer are nice, of course, but it’s hard to beat a well-made Margarita (no sweet-and-sour mix!) when the weather gets pleasant. And, of course, Cinco de Mayo is just a couple of days away as I write this.

A good Margarita is only as good as the tequila it’s made from, and the best tequila is 100-percent blue agave. Blue agave is a smooth-leafed succulent plant (a cactus-type plant with no needles). The unique blue cast of the plant’s leaves gave it its English name. Agave is native to the central Mexican state of Jalisco; it was there in 1761 that the Spanish-immigrant Camarena family co-founded the town of Arandas (approximately 280 miles east of Puerto Vallarta). In 1860 the Camarenas began cultivating blue agave for tequila, becoming one of Mexico’s top growers. Today, the family grows more than three million agave plants, some at an altitude of 7,700 feet, in the Los Altos Highlands, the world’s highest agave fields. Here, the mineral-rich volcanic soil, low rainfall, and temperate climate support plants of greater flavor maturity.

In 1938, the Camarenas began making their own tequila. The process starts when the seven- to ten-year old plants are hand-harvested by the field workers, the jimadores. The jimadores use sharp spades called coas to remove the spiky leaves from the agave. What remains is a trimmed central piña, often weighing more than 100 pounds.

The piñas are then slow-roasted for two days in ovens made of volcanic sandstone, to convert the agave’s fructose to fermentable sugar. Next, the cooked agaves are passed through a shredding mill to separate the juice from the pulp. A special wine yeast is added to the juice, or wort, to create a mildly alcoholic liquid called mosto. The mosto is then distilled using traditional, small pot stills.  Apparently, Camarena goes a step further.  According to their Web site, “we use a proprietary method which blends traditional ovens and modern techniques. This allows us to consistently produce one of the smoothest and best-tasting tequilas around.”  Indeed, both of Camarena’s tequilas are exceptionally smooth and appealing, and they are excellent values.  (There is also an Anejo, which I didn’t have a chance to try.)

E.&J. Gallo (yes, that Gallo) inked an exclusive deal to distribute Camarena in the U.S. in 2010, which is why the brand appeared nearly everywhere seemingly instantly.

To help get your summer started, here’s my personal Killer Margarita recipe: combine 4 oz. tequila, 2 oz. triple sec, and 3 oz. Rose’s lime juice with 1 cup crushed ice. Stir or shake until ice is nearly melted. Pour into salted-rim (I like to use a mix of 3-parts kosher salt to 1-part tajin seasoning) glasses half filled with ice cubes. Garnish with a fresh lime slice.

Camarena 100% Agave Silver

Camarena 100% Blue Agave Silver Tequila rests for several months after distillation to integrate flavors before it is bottled at 40% alcohol. This unaged tequila is completely clear, and exhibits hints of sweet vanilla and black pepper. Substitute it for vodka in a Bloody Maria.

Camarena 100% Agave Reposado

Camarena 100% Blue Agave Reposado Tequila is aged for two months in American oak barrels. The wood aging imparts a golden color, and brings out additional roundness to the flavor, as well as the natural agave sweetness. Substitute it for bourbon in a Mexican Manhattan.

Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Tequila

Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Tequila

Cuervo Reserva de la Familia is the world’s first extra-añejo tequila. It is drawn from the Cuervo® family’s private reserve collection of tequilas, relying on a family recipe handed down over ten generations.  Each bottle is numbered, dated, and sealed in wax. All by hand. The tequila is made using only the flavorful inner portion of hand-selected blue agave plants harvested at peak maturity after seven to twelve years of growing in the field.  After distillation, it is aged in French and American oak barrels for a minimum of two years, although the final blend includes tequila from reserves as old as 30 years. Definitely not for shots or margaritas, Reserva de la Familia is best served in a snifter, allowing for full appreciation of its flavors and aromas of rich oak, toasted almonds, vanilla,  and cinnamon. There is a long and velvety finish. At about $170 per 750ml bottle, this is a rare treat for most of us, but worth it if you can swing it. Cuervo commissions a different well-known Mexican artist each year to design the wooden presentation box Reserva de la Familia comes in, so the current offering won’t match this photograph.

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