Befriending an Old Enemy

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We’ve all been there. You’re in a bar having a friendly drink and then someone behind you shouts “TEQUILA!” Before you know it, you’re dragged to the bar, handed a small shot glass with a colourless liquid inside and a lemon on top. Salt is sprinkled onto your hand and then it’s all downhill from there. I have been a victim of this pastime on many occasions. It’s due to this that I have never personally considered tequila a serious tipple. Well, that was all to change.

I had the pleasure of attending a tequila tasting evening courtesy of The Tasting Sessions. The event was aptly named The Reconciliation and was held at The Bedroom Bar in Shoreditch, East London. It was quite an unusual set up. This wasn’t the formal drinks tasting affair I was expecting. Instead, the venue had an old Texas prison theme. As soon as I entered the bar I was forced into a prison jumpsuit while a prison officer shouted in my ear and ordered me to take a drugs test. The drugs test just happened to be a shot of Tequila Sunrise with Cazadores Blanco. Afterwards, I had a tattoo done (followed by another shot) and then I was interrogated under spot light for the crime of drowning four women in tequila. Luckily, I was found not guilty.

Once the introductions were over, the tequila tasting commenced. Tequila expert, Steffin Oghene, gave us a quick history of the drink and briefed us on the different types, as follows: blanco; colourless and the youngest type. Normally bottled early after leaving the distillery. Reposado; this is slightly golden and is aged between 2-12 months. The Mexican’s preferred tequila. Anjeco; this is the old man. It has been aged in the oak barrel for more than 24 months. Also the most expensive.

We tried seven varieties in total. Here’s a quick summary:

Olmeca Los Altos Blanco – 0 months
To kick things off we started with a very young tequila. It was crystal clear, very smooth with a peppery aftertaste. A nice way to warm things up.

Cazadores Reposado – rested 2 months
This was more like a single malt whisky, very smooth and very tasty. As a whisky fan I could have easily continued to sip this one. But there was a lot more to come.

Herradura Gran Imperio Roposado – rested 11 months
This was a woody, rum-flavoured tequila with a bit of a kick.

That was the end of round one. At this point I was a little lightheaded but still standing and ready for more.

Cazadores Anejo – aged 12 months
Now we were moving on to the stronger stuff. This is was a very nice tequila, like drinking a fine Cognac. It was very smooth and extremely tasty. Definitely one of my favourites.

Herradura Anejo – aged 2 years
This one I didn’t like too much. It had an unusual after taste. I think the lemon and salt is needed for this one.

Jose Cuerou Reserva de la Familia Anejo – aged 3 years
HELLO! This one felt like someone just walked up and slapped me in the face really hard. This had a very strong kick and was very flavoursome. I think I’m ready for more now.

Herradura Seleccion Supreme Extras Anejo – aged 4 years
They saved the best until last. At £50 a shot it was the most expensive tequila of the evening. You know where the money goes with this one, it was very, very smooth and had a strong woody taste.

The night ended with the host providing us with his very special cocktail mix of tequila and absinthe. I know what you’re thinking, it should never work, but I must admit it was the best cocktail I have had in a long time.

I feel I owe tequila an apology. It is not the worm-ridden, get-tipsy-fast drink most people mistake it for. I think it is time that we stop with the salt and lemon and start appreciating tequila for what it really is; a very fine tipple which is up there with rum, cognac and brandy. The next time I’m at a bar and someone shouts “Tequila!”, I think I’ll have the Cazadores Anejo. And you can keep the lemon and salt.

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