This month, we join in the increasingly popular premium tequila craze. The market for this upscale version of the most hangover-inducing of liquors has really taken off in the past year. Part of the allure is that the premium tequilas are 100% Agave (regular tequilas are only about half agave, with the rest being cheap-and-vile additives) so they are very smooth and deserve to be drunk neat (save the cheap stuff for Margaritas). Part of the thrill is the price, which while expensive compared to regular tequila is much cheaper than other premium liquors like cognacs or single malts.
There are three types of premium tequilas : The Silver (or blanco) which is bottled without aging, the Reposada which is stored in oak barrels for at least six months, and the Anejo which is stored for at least one year.
Pictured above are two varieties of Chinaco Tequila, the Reposada and the Anejo. Of the different brands I've tried, Chinaco is clearly the best. The Reposada has the sour/salty taste of the tequila that you're probably used to without having to compete with the flavors of those hangover-inducing additives. The Anejo tastes closer to a cognac than a tequila and is truly a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, Chincao is one of the more expensive tequilas (around $40 for the Reposada) and is very hard to find. In fact, the Anejo has been out of production for several years and is rumored to be coming back sometime soon.
Because it's getting so popular, there is quite a lot of literature about premium tequilas. An August edition of the Santa Clara Metro covers the basics and talks about many of the brands. Also of interest is the Tequila Home Page which has all sorts of interesting pointers.
So grab a bottle, put on your sombrero, and drink the winter away.