New Mexico’s Spirits Trail: Part 3
In our final installment of the New Mexican Spirits Trail (have you read the others?) we’ll be sampling tequila. Ay-yi-yi!
Tequila, pronounced tə-ˈkē-lə, tā-, or after one particular birthday party, I was convinced it was pronounced “to kill ya,” is an import from Mexico. And, it has to be from Mexico, specifically the Jalisco state, to be considered true tequila. It’s like the French with their Champagne. So, the “tequila” made in New Mexico, is considered “tequila-esque.”
Modern tequila is made from the agave tequilana (or blue agave) plant. This spiky succulent loves volcanic soils at elevations over 5,000 feet, so Jalisco is home sweet home. Due to the high sugar content, the plant handles all the marinating so that the liquor isn’t aged in a barrel – or not for long.
At first, the native Mexicans – Aztecs – used sap from the Maguey plant (a variety of the agave) to concoct “pulque.” This early form of tequila was used by priests and royalty in rituals. Yep, sacrifices occurred between shots. Of course, many an American has sacrificed their liver during Cinco de Mayo.
There are five main types of tequila: Blanco (white), Plata (silver), Joven (gold or young), Reposado (“rested” or aged 2-12 months) and Añejo (“aged” 1-3 years).
Now, let’s go and SIP some of this goodness at several great New Mexican bars and lounges.
But you’re here to try the SilverCoin Tequila served by some amazing mixologists (they’ve appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, etc.). SilverCoin is a “silver” tequila that is distilled to proof (meaning water isn’t added later).
It’s a jungle in here…
- Dos Lunas is actually out of El Paso, and also uses imported blue agave. We tried the Silver. It is distilled three times and then aged for six days in white oak barrels prior to bottling. We found it a bit sour and the citrus flavors usually found in tequila were muddled.
- Centinela Tequila Reposada was next up. This is a family-owned tequila distillery, located in Jalisco, which dates back to 1890 so it’s an import. Reposada means it’s aged 3 years. To our tongue, it was a bit too oaky. It felt “whiskey-like”.
- We lost track… Oh, yeah we’re at shot #3 – the Hornitos Añejo (not aged as long as Reposada style). This one was very aromatic and had a great balance of sweet and citrus. *My pick
Then I saw it, just hanging out with the other bottles. The fabled Cabo Wabo Reposada tequila (created but no longer owned by Sammy Hagar at his bar in Baja, Mexico).
The Sacred Cabo
As I sipped the nicely oaked tequila, with citrus and only a slight burn, I could hear Sammy singing…
I’m goin’ way down south where the big blue agave grow,
Takin’ a weekend trip down to Baja, Mexico!
Where you can drink the water, but don’t ya eat the ice,
Take your vitamin “T” with salt ‘n lemon slice …
You can hear Sammy sing it too…
Lane & Juliet
The writing and photography team behind Southwest Compass, the travel blog for the American Southwest.