It wasn't until I moved to London that I ever had Jose Cuervo. You don't wanna sip Jose Cuervo. You want to shoot it and then kill it. But courtesy of a Texas university education, I was exposed to many better (and usually cheaper!) tequilas, so I was lucky not to be put off tequila for life.
However, I never really learned anything about tequila until I attended a talk by Wahaca's Thomasina Myers at the British Museum. She gave a short introduction to the differences between mixto (tequilas like Jose Cuervo which are 51% blue agave and 49% blech) and tequilas that are 100% blue agave. From then, I became curious about these better tequilas, and Wahaca was the only place you could get high quality tequila at a reasonable price.
It's probably thanks to that commitment to quality that the Mexican government sent over about 30 exclusive tequilas to Wahaca, which are being rotated through different tastings to determine which to stock as guest tequilas. Wednesday night's tasting was comprised of ten tequilas, all 100% blue agave. Our tasting was guided by the expert palate of Henry Besant, tequila guide extraordinaire.
We began with the blancos. The first, Don Vallente, was unmemorable. The second, Don Cosme, was impossibly sweet. Henry informed us that this is based on the original recipe for tequila, and is probably closest to what Mexicans drank in the old days. (I for one, was disappointed that badasses like Zorro apparently drank the tequila equivalent of a pink martini.) But the third was my favorite, the Gran Orendain. It was smooth all the way through, and lacked the rubbery finish the others had.
Orendain won the reposado category as well, with Orendaino Itas. But I got the impression that no one was particularly impressed with the reposados on offer, one of which had a chemical taste, and the other tasted watered down.
We had to race through the anejo category, which was unfortunate as we didn't have enough time to fully appreciate their flavors. These are the cadillacs, the tequilas that have a roundness and depth of flavor to rival the best of single malt Scotch.
Finally, Mark from Wahaca was kind enough to bring around a bottle of Don Julio's El Tosoro (their current stock) to compare to the new offerings. Fortunately or unfortunately, it easily bested the upstart competition. We also got to sample Mezcal in authentic terracotta shot glasses (the Mezcal was my personal favorite of everything we tasted).
All in all, it was a good time, and it was great to meet some of the minds that make Wahaca such a great place. My liver has yet to forgive me my indulgence, but hey, at least we had fun. And I look forward to reliving the experience over a nice pipian mole sometime in the near future.