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Tequila! A Primer, a Tasting, a Journey to the Dark Side

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Sipping tequilas have come into their own recently, evidenced by the release of Maestro Dobel's Diamond Tequila and Centenario's hibiscus-infused Reposado. LAist decided to host an evening of tequila-tasting and get the low-down on some of the new products. Careful notes were taken, which eventually degenerated into Hunter Thompson-like scribblings. Apologies for the Zagatesque quote writing, but when we get to bat country, you will be amazed Zagatness was even possible.

Tequila is distilled from the piña of the agave cactus. Beware: some cheaper brands are made with grain alcohol instead of agave. Look for "NOM" on the label to ensure your tequila is 100% agave. The amount of time the tequila is allowed to age after distillation determines the color. The Plata (silver), aged the least, is white. Reposado (rested) is aged a little longer. The Anejo (aged) stays in the cask the longest, and picks up the most flavor of the oak. Like champagne, tequila is only allowed to be called "tequila" if it comes from a certain region - specifically Jalisco. Tequilas from other regions will usually be labeled "agave" or "mezcal" (Mezcal can refer to any distilled agave liquer).

The Tasting:

Of the platas, the Centenario was the most popular, hands down. Tasting notes on platas in general were "Smooth, no bite, nice tongue burn". "The silvers are definitely the most innocuous and the most suitable for mixing. Still a bit of kick though. The famous Patron is not actually the smoothest, Centario wins on that regard."

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Los Osuna and Tres Generaciones were the most popular reposados. Notes included "Reposados are aged longer & have more color & flavor character. Tres G is a very good example of this type."

There were two Anejos. They were definitely less popular and packed more of a wallop. One note scribbled across the top of the notebook said "POISON". It was a split decision, with some people preferring the Tres Generaciones and others preferring the Milagro.

In addition to the platas, anejos and reposados, I had two "specialty" tequilas. The Maestro Dobel is a new innovation, made from a combination of the three types of tequilas. The hibiscus-infused pink Centenario, though a reposado, was exciting enough to warrant special attention.

Many notes from the tasters defy classification. Welcome to bat country...

Jose Cuervo is the color of sunset and tastes like the summer. But compared to these brands [it's] bollocks! Maestro Dobel went down like a Russian whore, Tequila is why latinos are so lusty.

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What are you looking at?

He’s actually rather literate, he says. Taught writing in junior high. Secondary school. The rules, the grammar, that kinda shit. From the east coast. Back then it was almost guaranteed that you would have a better education. Writing. Writing.

Rooms full of souses. No coke? No one’s doing coke anymore. That was Reagan. Reagan was bringing in the coke and no one realizes that.

There’s been a choice. Four of the guests have said so. Majority rules.

Someone likes something that nobody likes. Commercially viable. People like the other one but were afraid to drink it. Fear. Raw fear.

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Talking shit. Done with tequila.

Cats and drunk people don't mix. Since when?

Infections. A mechanic. Pink stuff. That cat digs the pink stuff, but it fucks him up.

Dead cats. Dead squirrels. Pink shit. Dripping. Paranoia. Winnebagos.

Idiots. Greedy. Rent jacking. They got nothing. I must have that. No one else likes it. That should be good. Someone thinks someone is right. I tell you what, that reposado is nice.

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They like a big corn fed white boy in Chicago.

And what would opera be like if like Verdi and all them cats drank lots of tequila instead of all that dago red (or whatever) Can you imagine, the characters would all be CRAZY and chasing each other across the stage, all violent and raging and all. I better switch to beer now.

Heathbiter and Greg Thompson contributed to this post

Here is a video tour of the tequila-making process at the Los Osuna tequila factory in Sinaloa, Mexico. Enjoy.