Tequila

Review: Westland Celebrious American Single Malt Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Westland Distillery.

Image courtesy of Westland Distillery.

ABV
52.7%
Aging
American Oak (47 months) + tequila barrel ( months)
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Westland (Seattle, Washington)

Westland releases an April Fool’s day bottling of single malt every year, joining the likes of the esteemed “Boldsmooth” and “Sport Dram”. This year is a parody of social media - with whiskey swag alongside “Celebrious” branded mirrors, tacky “celebrious status” badges with the invitation to “everything awesome” and pro-tips on maintaining celebrity status.

“In the age of celebrities

and the spirits that celebrate them,

In a world where everyone can have their moment in the spotlight,

there is a new star rising….

Any celebrity worth 15 minutes of fame,

deserves their own whiskey.

A whiskey that says, ‘I’ve made it'!’

Now you can count yourself among the echelon of the elite.

You are one of the rare few to have the adoration of thousands,

and the whiskey to prove it”.

More seriously though, how often do we see Tequila finishes? They are becoming more popular, but are still not commonplace yet.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

The nose has a nice mix of dried red berries and dried fruit, roasted jalapeno, soursop, white pepper, light smoke, baking bread, vanilla, and hard caramel sugar candies. The palate has tequila spices and dried fruit notes which fade to spice and oak, with a nice kick of roasted grain leading into the finish. The finish has a rich dried fruitiness, spice, light oak, and a touch of minerality and earth. Lots of dry tequila spice on the finish.

Quite good and reasonably balanced, but it doesn’t quite come together in terms of both depth and breadth like some of the other Westlands – but maybe that is the point. It’s a bit sweet, too. Still, quite nice - and 52.7% is quite nice.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: N/A.


Review: Lohin McKinnon Tequila Finished Single Malt Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Lohin McKinnon Tequila Finished.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
Ex-bourbon and Tequila barrels
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Central City (Surrey, British Columbia)

This is a Lohin McKinnon which has been finished in Tequila casks which were described by the barrel broker as “Mexican Heaven” barrels. This is the only Tequila finished whisky that I know of, certainly the only one in Canada. I know Wiser’s has experimented with Tequila finished whisky but they haven’t bottled any. This is one of the annual special releases from Lohin McKinnon (last year we saw the excellent chocolate malt).


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

The nose is spicy, intensely grainy, and full of rich earthy notes: roasted root vegetables, orange, cacao, toasted coconut, and pear. There are some nice floral notes, too – which sit on top. This would be an example of a nose that I would call “layered” – the floral notes sit on top, with citrus and plum beneath, then some sweet spice and a touch of tequila, and then earthy notes at the bottom. Quite a nice, rich maltiness with this one.

The palate has dark brown sugar, a mild oakiness, vanilla, a touch of jalapeno, oat cakes, rich honey, and a bit of sour agave just towards the end. The middle of this whisky is so rich – it’s quite fascinating. It still sits a bit “heavy” as if from youth, or maybe that comes in from the barrels. I like how the whisky has a tequila characteristic, but it isn’t dominated by it.

I’ve found that I’ve liked Lohin McKinnon more and more as I’ve tried more of it.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). It’s very rare to find Tequila finished whiskies – in fact this is the only one I know of which has been bottled (I’ve tasted some which weren’t bottled), so on a uniqueness scale, it’s up there. It’s a fun one for blind tastings.

Value: Average. It’s pretty unique, and is on the cheaper side of micro-distilled single malts in Canada (70$).


Review: Cazadores Tequila Reposado by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
Reposado (2 - 12 months)
Recipe
100% Blue Agave
Distiller Bacardi Y Cia (Arandas, Mexico)

One thing I do really like about Mexico is that the distillery has to be written on the bottle - with Norma Oficial Mexicana (NOM) codes. (See here.) I wish whisky had the same...it might cut out quite a bit of misleading or illegitimate marketing, which is everywhere in the whisky world.

The stag on the bottle comes from the deer which grazed among the blue agave plants outside the house of Jose Maria, who founded the brand. The tequila is double distilled, and double fermented (like wine).


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

Quite candied on the nose, with some creamy and spicy notes as well.  Dry and spicy, with cilantro, and rising woody spice through to the peppery, methol, fresh orange, toffee, and creamy finish. Fairly clean, and also a bit sweet (too much perhaps). The finish also has some dried berries. Overall, again, no bad off notes – but lacking complexity I search for.

A decent tequila.

Value: Average. This sits in the mid-range of tequila prices, and is a decent buy.


Review: Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
>1 year
Recipe
100% Blue Agave
Distiller Tequila Sauza (Tequila, Mexico)

I picked this one up in the Mexico duty free in Mexico city after tasting a bunch of different tequilas. It is aged to be quite woody - four months in deep charred oak barrels, then an additional two months in specially toasted barrels. And there might be a whisky barrel in their too, but I can't get a clear story. Maybe I liked this one because I like whisky more than tequila though....definitely has some parallels. I like to taste this one blind in whisky tastings to see if I can trick people.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

This is very oaky – oak, peppermint, light bourbon aromas, vanilla, pickled jalapeno, grilled pepper….the palate is creamy and sweet, full of vanilla and asparagus before leading into a wave of oak and classic tequila flavours underneath. If you like whisky and want a tequila to start with, this is terrific – though very oak driven which squashes some of the agave’s impact. But, I really like it…the finish is dry, spicy, and oaky. I like to throw this one in at whisky tastings for fun…all you “smooth” word lovers would throw it in here.

Assessment: Highly Recommended. On a taste basis, this is a “recommended” but I find it so unique and it appeals to many non-tequila drinkers because of the oak - so I recommend.

Value: High. A buy that I recommend.


Review: El Jimador Tequila Reposado by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
Reposado (2 - 12 months)
Recipe
100% Blue Agave
Distiller Brown Forman Tequila Mexico (Amatitan, Mexico)

At the Mexico airport duty free, I tasted countless tequilas, and the bottle I chose to go away with was this El Jimador – one of the cheapest offerings, but a nice clean distillate. A jimador is a type of Mexican farmer who harvests agave plants. Like many tequilas, it is made from 100% blue agave - known as the best type of agave for making tequila. El Jimador is a Brown Forman brand (they also own Jack Daniels and Canadian Mist).


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2016

Beef jerky, citrusy, and some brilliant oranges, agave, fresh fennel, cumin, and menthol. I do love the vegetal and spicy character of tequila. Jalapeno juice, peppermint, green cardamom…The palate has lots of pepper notes, mustard, full of agave and more black pepper and beef jerky.  Finishes with some black pepper, more agave, and arugula and spinach.  It’s not brimming with complexity, but it is extremely clean and there aren’t any negative notes which I often find with cheaper tequilas. My choice mixer for a soft tequila in cocktails.

Value: Average. One of the better cheaper tequilas.


Review: Casamigos Reposado Tequila by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
American Oak; 7 months
Recipe
100% Blue Agave
Distiller Productos Finos De Agave (Jesus Maria, Mexico)

Exploring different spirits is something I always enjoy, and throwing in good Tequilas to tastings is always interesting (though lots of folk have had too much experience with bad tequila to appreciate it...). I bought this one before even hearing about it thanks to a medal from the New York International Spirits Competition - a rare spirits competition which doesn't give out awards like candy - only about 50% of entries are awarded a medal (most competitions give out medals for nearly all of the entries).

The brand was founded by Clooney and a business partner, and the tequila is made at the same distillery as the well known Clase Azul, Avion, and others. The reposado ("rested") designation means that the tequila was aged between 2 months and a year - this one, apparently, for 7 months.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

Sour, vegetal and spicy on the nose – pickled jalapenos, cilantro’s soapiness, dill, black pepper, vanilla, and freshly charred white oak – and some fresh, creamy tropical fruits emerge – like guanabanas. The palate has white pepper, agave, celery, and a bit more cilantro – a very nice vegetal and spicy balance with a bit of a buttery feel to it. Quite restrained, and balanced. Slightly sweet.

Finishes in a vegetal fashion with some dryness, and a bit of white pepper, with some tropical fruits emerging after the initial fade.  Slight saccharin. The tropical fruit notes bring in quite a lot of diversity and balance to the tequila, and make it quite interesting. I quite enjoy sipping this. Very complex.

Assessment: Recommended. One of the better tequilas in the Canadian market, and it’s quite decent stuff. I like it more than the “highly recommended” hornitos black barrel, but that got a higher recommendation because of uniqueness, not necessarily quality.

Value: Average.