What’s hotter than tequila and mezcal? These two categories both caught fire in 2020 as more consumers grasped the high quality and mixability of both spirits. Especially as so many people mixed cocktails while sheltering at home.
Speaking of the pandemic, the 11th Annual New York International Spirits Competition, a partner competition of Cheers@Home, successfully went digital in 2020. Judges sipped and rated numerous spirits samples—delivered ahead of time—from the safety of their own residences. Below, we share results from the agave category, highlighting tequilas and mezcals that won double gold, gold and silver medals.
Judges for the New York International Spirits Competition are trade profes- sionals—retailers, bartenders, buyers, etc.—who blind-taste products based on price tiers. These reviews and ratings recognize spirits that represent both quality and value.
DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL
Caifino Tequila Añejo (Califino). The Luna family recipe uses blue weber agave aged in their lightly toasted barrels to give the añejo a golden amber color. When you raise your glass, caramel and hints of vanilla fill your nose. It lies full in the mouth, with a deep oaky balanced finish.
Cierto Teuila Reserve Collection Extra Añejo (Cierto Tequila). Cierto sources its agave from the mature highlands of Jalisco. The deep golden color comes from aging in dark European oak barrels for nine years. Hints of tobacco and vanilla fill the nose and the mouth with a warm, layered finish.
Cutwater Spirits Tequila Blanco (Cutwater Spirits). Using 100% blue agave, slow cooked in brick ovens, then open-air fermented in Jalisco. The cooked agave with hints of pepper enchants the nose, as vanilla appears on the edges of your tongue. It has a smoother finish then one would expect for a blanco.
Tequila Bribbon Reposado (Taub Family Co.). From one of the top three tequila families in Mexico who have been making tequila since 1924. The light color shows the time in the barrel, with hints of oak and nuts in the nose. It lies light when in the mouth, with hints of vanilla and dried fruit, before its soft ending as it travels down your throat.
Vamanos Riendo Mezcal (Good Spirits Ventures). A unique triple distilled mezcal inspired by a pechuga style that is normally poured at special events. It starts with an exciting medley of smoke and fruit to the nose. The balanced citrus flavor with mint is discovered in the mouth and ends with a velvety smooth finish.
4 Copas Tequila Anejo (Preiss Imports). A 100% organic tequila, and Kosher, from Master Distiller Sebastian Melendez. Aged in American oak barrels, its nose is a fine medley of dry fruit and soft flowers. When in the mouth, soft layered sweet flavors coat the tongue with a balanced soft sweet finish.
Cabo Wabo Blanco Tequila (Campari). A Sammy Hagar creation, a full blanco agave tequila using 100% weber blue agave. The cooked agave is present when nosed and continues when in your mouth. Light citrus and pepper mix in with the light smoke in your mouth. It has a tight, blanco finish with a little spice.
Califino Tequila Extra Añejo (Califino). Aged seven years in American oak barrels, and finished in a French Cognac barrel for one more year. The deep color showcases its time in the barrels with the soft sweet layers resting in the mouth. The finish is as warm and layered as its deep color.
Cierto Tequila Private Collection Añejo (Cierto Tequila). Aged in French limousin oak, the oakiness fills the nose with hints of citrus. The oak continues to be present in the mouth with chocolate and coffee as it lies on the tongue. The finish is silky, with a well-balanced, long finish.
Corralegjo Añejo (Infinium Spirits). This light-gold añejo carries
a soft wood aroma with hints of vanilla when nosed. A mix of silky sweetness of honey and spices fills the mouth. The silkiness continues in the finish along with hints of pepper.
Espolon Añejo Tequila (Campari). It is distilled from 100% blue Weber agave and then aged in new American oak barrels before finishing for two months in deep-charred Wild Turkey bourbon barrels. Whiffs of dried fruits fill the nose and the mouth. When in the mouth you feel its layered presence with notes of vanilla that continues down your throat for a balanced long finish.
Familia Camarena Tequila Silver (E&J Gallo). A clean silver tequila with citrus notes that come up from the glass. Vanilla and continued hints of citrus are in the mouth. The finish is surprisingly soft, with light spices.
Gran Centenario Leyenda Extra Añejo (Proximo Spirits). The same family distilling tequila in the highlands of Jalisco and recognized as one of the first producers of “extra añejo tequila.” The nose has hints of mint and, when in the mouth, the citrus experience is included as it lies on your tongue. That’s followed with a well-balanced, silky finish.
Mezcal Nucano Tobala Joven (Mezcal Nucano). An artisanal mezcal dis- tilled from wild agave from San Dionisio Ocotepec that is harvested after 12 years. Hints of leather in the nose with tings of citrus in the mouth. The finish is tight with notes of vanilla and the smoke that you desire in a mezcal.
Tequila Herradura Reposado (Brown- Forman Corp.). The rich gold color comes from aging longer than required for the 11 months for a reposado. Vanilla and hints of honey fill the nose and again in the mouth. It has a smooth finish for a reposado, with dark spice sprinkled on top.
Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado (Proximo Spirits). It is light in color, for it is not aged long in the oak barrel. Hints of oak and light herbs are in the nose. The oak presence continues in the mouth along with hints of vanilla. The finish is smooth, with the presence of spice at the end of your throat.
Cutwater Spirits Tequila Reposado (Cutwater Spirits). The reposado is slow cooked in traditional brick ovens and later aged in Cutwater Spirits whiskey barrels. The oak and vanilla in the nose come from the aging process. Caramel and vanilla come through on the tongue, with a soft finish for a silver tequila.
Tequila Herradura Silver (Brown-Forman). 100% blue Weber agave grown on the distillery grounds since 1870 is the foundation of this tequila. Aged in American oak barrels for 45 days, the color has a light yellow tint with a soft citrus nose. The soft citrus continues in the month with a lighter finish than one would expect for a blanco tequila.
Dos Hombres Mezcal (Dos Hombres). Don Hombres are actors Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul bringing their mezcal to market. It is distilled from a blend of espadin agave. The smokiness of a mezcal is present throughout the experience, along with hints of fruit from the mouth to the throat.
Veneno Tequila Extra Añejo (Veneno Tequila). A medium amber hue with hints of vanilla when brought up to the nose. Light spice and chocolate on the side edges of your tongue with this layered extra añejo. Chocolate and oak are part of the finale, with a smooth, balanced finish.