Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Spirit Log: Olmeca Altos Reposado Tequila

It was Black Friday, but I wasn’t looking specifically for Black Friday deals. I just figured I’d see if there was any tequila on Amazon that I could use our Prime membership on – and there was. So delivery is free, instead of the usual £4.50 or £4.95 you have to pay to buy spirits online, and it was also £14 cheaper (at £20) than at any of the other online suppliers. Here it is, the Olmeca Altos Reposado.
It’s only 38% as most tequila seems to be, but it is full agave, which is a minimum requirement for me these days. Aged for 6 to 8 months in American oak ex-bourbon casks, this particular variety is notable because some of the agave used has been juiced using the artisanal tahona method, where a 2 tonne volcanic millstone – carved from one piece of rock – is used to crush the cooked pinas. A full, and quite interesting story of the production is available at altostequila.com, but it looks like the range varies according to the amount of tahona liquid (and possibly other aspects of the production process) incorporated. The basic Olmeca, for example, isn’t full agave, but it does incorporate a portion of tahona liquid, while the more premium Tezon, is certified 100% tahona liquid. So what we’ve got is an intermediate level expression for the brand, that should be decent quality.
I suppose it’s worth asking whether this Tahona method is really the most effective way of getting juice from the cooked agave hearts. There must be an ultimate method, but what it is, I don’t know. For now we’ll just have to assume the tahona one is a good one.
Let’s just say first of all, it is packaged quite beautifully in a square bottle with a small label and a fancy mottling effect. On opening, it transpires that what looks like a fancy wood-topped stopper is actually an oversized screwtop.
As ever, the full agave proved popular with our guests Pablo and Veronica on the night of opening, so were quite easily able to polish off nearly half a bottle. My overall feeling though, is that while this is drinkable and pleasant, with a fresh peach smell prevalent on the nose, it is far too mellow to deliver my favourite aspects of tequila. It should sting a little bit – and that quality seems to be something that dissipates when the spirit has been rested in wood even a brief while.
So next up for me will be a return to the blanco varieties – and after that, I think I’ll have to go the whole hog and try and anejo expression – just to be sure –though I won’t be going all the way up to extra anejo, since you’re looking at £80+ for a 3 year old. For now my preference lies with the blanco full agave varieties anyway. Nevertheless, this would probably make an excellent introduction to tequila for someone who is a little less familiar with the agave sting. And if you can still get it for around £20 (at the time of writing, Amazon UK have it at £23.09 on Prime), it’s definitely worth a punt.