Why theres never been a better time to drink tequila

Tequila has come to connote summer, fiestas, and the rich culture of Mexico. Its also incredibly versatile: you can sip it, down it in one, mix it with soda, have it in a margarita, use it to replace the key ingredient in pretty much any traditional cocktail.

For those wanting to explore options beyond shots and margs, theres never been a better time. Interest in tequila shows no sign of slowing, so more and more products are making their way onto the British market. In addition to the increasing availability of artisanal tequilas and other mezcals (the former being the best known variety of the latter), demand is driving innovation and the development of ultra-premium agave-based spirits.

One of the hot new trends is cristalino tequila, which in just a decade has become the best-selling super-premium expression in Mexico. A cristalino is made when aged tequila is treated to remove the colour it picks up from resting in wooden barrels. Sometimes this is achieved through further distillation, but more often by filtering it with activated charcoal. These processes also remove some the harsher flavours that some drinkers find off-putting, leaving a clear liquid with more body and complexity than an unaged tequila, and in which bold agave gives way to more rounded citrus notes. Cristalinos toned-down profile has been controversial among fans of agave-forward tequilas, but they appear to be drawing in consumers who might otherwise have been deterred, and they open up new possibilities for cocktails.

A trailblazer here was Don Julio 70; first released in 2011 to celebrate the companys 70th anniversary and available in the UK since May. Marketed as the worlds first añejo claro tequila, Don Julio 70 is made with 100 per cent blue agave, triple distilled, and aged for 18 months in white oak barrels before being charcoal filtered. This process retains much of the deep vanilla and toasted oak that comes from the barrel, while reintroducing tempered notes of the raw agave you would expect in a much younger spirit. Its smooth, stable, and crystal clear.

Don Julio is one of the brands bringing an artisanal sensibility to tequila

Don Julios UK brand ambassador Deano Moncrieffe recommends serving Don Julio 70 in place of gin in a white negroni: a fiendishly clever drink, the unassuming appearance of which belies its satisfyingly bracing bitterness.

For those seeking even greater extravagance, Juan Domingo Beckmann Legorreta – the 11th generation leader of the Jose Cuervo tequila empire – has crafted the first in a new line of ultra-premium tequilas, Maestro DOBEL 50 1·9·6·7.

Two years ago, Beckmann turned 50, and he decided to celebrate by making an exceptional tequila inspired by the year of his birth. He reflected on disparate events – the launch of satellite television, the publication of A Hundred Years of Solitude, and the birth of Nirvana front-man Kurt Cobain – to blend a tequila that captured, in some ineffable sense, the spirit of 1967.

When blending the 1·9·6·7, Beckmann dipped into his family reserves, selecting rare spirits to enhance the double distilled, French and American oak-aged, and sherry barrel-finished extra añejRead More – Source

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