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The First Big Taste Test   Leave a comment

The goal is to craft the ultimate Margarita … not find the best tasting tequila.  Therefore, we followed the suggestion first seen on The Goodist, and created a taste test to showcase tequilas in a standard Margarita recipe.

The classic Margarita recipe was just too tart for the family members that were tasked to sample some of the preliminary mixes.  The classic margarita recipe has a proportion of 3:2:1

  • 3 parts, tequila
  • 2 parts, lime juice
  • 1 part, orange liqueur

The Goodist suggested a “tequila forward” recipe of 4:1:1, but that was similarly unacceptable to our palates.  We settled on a 6:5:4 recipe, as follows:

  • 1-1/2 oz, tequila
  • 1-1/4 oz, margarita mix
  • 1 oz, Grand Marnier

Further, we decided that we would not put ice in the samples, as that would dilute the recipe based on when the sample was drunk.  Therefore, we addded a cup of water to the Margarita Mix recipe, (hopefully) simulating the melting of ice.  Hey, it’s our taste test; we made up the rules.

We then had to choose 13 tequilas to go into the final test.  In the weeks leading up to the first big taste test, we had “pre-gamed” with almost all of the tequilas, and there were already strong opinions on those that just wouldn’t do.  Therefore, we excluded 3 tequilas from the first formal tasting.  Excluded:

  1. Jose Cuervo Gold … In our first preliminary and blind taste test with 4 tequilas, all 4 judges rated this tequila the worst sampled.  “It tasted like fish.”  I advocated keeping this in, as it is the # 1 selling tequila in the world, but I was overuled.  Excluded.
  2. Pueblo Viejo Reposado … A relatively inexpensive reposado, it also didn’t make it out of the preliminary tastings.  Cheap, but no good.
  3. Reserva del Maestro Dobel Diamond Reposado … an expensive artisan tequila that had a too bright, perhaps over-filtered flavor.  I’m not a brewmaster, but I’ll tell you this tequila tasted awful.  I bought it at BevMo, where another tequila buyer commented on what a lovely bottle the tequila came in; that’s true.  They should have invested in the product, not the packaging, IMHO.

The 13 remaining tequilas were all mixed about 3 hours before the taste test, and refrigerated until they were poured into the tasting cups.

Each drink was rated in 4 categories: Aroma/Nose, Initial Taste, Finish and Smoothness. Perfect rating would be a 20 from each judge, and we had 11 judges.

This was a blind taste test; the only person who knew which tequila was in which bottle, initially, was me. By the time the tasting began hours later, I only remembered the number of one of the tequilas. After the tasting, I didn’t know which was which and I didn’t care.

All tasting cups were put in a tray with crushed ice to keep the samples cool.

We mixed the equivalent of 5 cocktails for each tequila. We then poured 11 samples, which were roughly the equivalent of 2-1/2 cocktails total of each. If you consumed all of each sample … which most did not … then you were drinking 2-1/2 cocktails. Too much for a taste test? Probably. But everyone filled out their ballot after drinking perhaps half of each sample. No one thought their judgement was impaired. Later on … when all of the excess samples were dumped into the “number 14 Margarita” … well, it was a good night.

When the tasting began, the 11 judges were seated around the dining room table.  Everyone had water to drink, as well as access to tortilla chips (salt!) and guacamole.

The results?  I was surprised.

Tequila   7 comments

There are literally hundreds of tequilas on the market today. Even if you limit your selections to Reposados … hundreds. I researched tequilas, chose some of the best sounding and best reviewed, and then bought the best I could find.  We started the taste test with the 16 tequilas that I could find.

Most were purchased from two Southern California chains: BevMo and Total Wine. A few came from other sources … the Marquez de Valencia is difficult to find, as this tequila is rather rare in our area. Here are the initial contenders for the best of the best, along with local pricing that I found and some ratings that you’ll find on the ‘net:

3 Amigos Reposado

  • $24.99
  • Tequila.net Editors: 92
  • Tequila.net Readers: 92

7 Leguas Reposado

  • $38.99
  • Tequila.net Readers: 92

1800 Reserva Reposado

  • $15.99
  • Tequila.net Readers: 83

Casa Noble Reposado

  • $43.99
  • Tequila.net Readers: 93
  • This tequila has a big brand presence

Don Celso Reposado

  • $29.99
  • Tastings.com Editors: 94

El Tesoro de Don Felipe Reposado

  • $37.99
  • Tastings.com Editors: 94
  • Tequila.net Readers: 92

Gran Centenario Reposado

  • $23.99
  • Tastings.com Editors: 94
  • Tequila.net Readers: 91

Herradura Reposado

  • $32.99
  • Tequila.net Readers: 85
  • 2011 TEQUILA.net Awards – “Best of the Best” Best Lowland Reposado Tequila

Jose Cuervo Gold

  • $13.99
  • Tequila.net Readers: 61
  • # 1 selling tequila in the world

KAH Tequila Reposado

  • $47.99
  • Tequila.net Editors: 92
  • Tequila.net Readers: 92
  • 2011 TEQUILA.net Awards – “Best of the Best” Best High-Proof Tequila
  • Day of the Dead-themed Skull makes this one of the most attractive bottles on the shelf!

Lunazul Blanco

  • $15.99
  • Tequila.net Readers: 82

Reserva del Maestro Dobel Diamond

  • $39.99
  • Tequila.net Editors: 93
  • Tequila.net Readers: 92

Marquez de Valencia Reposado

  • $47.99
  • Tastings.com Editors: 94
  • 2011 TEQUILA.net Awards – “Best of the Best” Best Highland Reposado Tequila Judge Favorite
  • 2010 TEQUILA.net Awards – Gold Medal
  • “Best Tequila for Margaritas according to BestCovery.com

Muchote Reposado

  • $24.99
  • Tequila.net Editors: 94
  • Tequila.net Readers: 94
  • 2008 Agave Spirits Challenge Gold Medal & Judge Favorite

Pueblo Viejo Reposado

  • $18.99
  • Tequila.net Readers: 88

Sol de Mexico Tequila Reposado

  • $39.99
  • Tequila.net Editors: 91
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