Talking about TEQUILA
So this is a first for me … I’ve gone for wine tasting, and so too for whisky, cognac and gin, but tequila is an entirely new animal to me, I confess. And what I’ve learnt is that most of what we’re accustomed to, usually mixed in cocktails, is essentially low grade tequila!
What we know of tequila is almost always taken with salt and a squeeze of lime, but apparently, good grade tequila can and should be drunk neat, or at most with a wee bit of ice to bring out its flavours.
Chris Marshall, one part owner of Distilled, a Singapore-based independent brand development agency representing boutique beverage brands, was in Kuala Lumpur recently to explain the fine nuances of hand-crafted tequila Codigo 1530.
Having started as a private recipe tequila contracted by a family in Los Cabos for almost five generations, it was only named Código 1530 much later, meaning “the code” and based on the year when the city Amatitan, (where the brew was made) was founded. Made from the best Blue Weber Agaves grown by local farmers in Mexico, extraction of the best juice is from the first press.
For our taste test, we had four of the five variants: Blanco, Reposado, Rosa and Anejo.
Blanco, described as “the best reflection of the label”, is produced using fully matured agave that is aged over 7 years without ever touching a barrel to get that rich agave flavour. Chris said it was clean and smooth, but for me, even the scent alone was reminiscent of fumes that could power a car! The taste was just as powerful, with more than a slight burn. One website touted it to be a drink fit for kings, which figures why a plebian like me don’t know how to appreciate this.
More commonly found in the market, said Chris, is the Rosa, rested for four weeks in uncharred Napa Cabernet French white oak barrels. Pink in colour, the drink still packs quite a punch but was a lot more fragrant on the nose and gentler on the palate for me.
Personally, the Reposado like almost like shot of undiluted cask-strength whisky, resonating with more familiar flavours. Aged for 6 months in a French white oak barrel, it exudes bright and sweet agave notes with added complexity of vanilla, toasted caramel and subtle cocoa powder. The vanilla and caramel notes were most apparent, and easiest to drink.
Anejo is from ageing the Blanco in French white oak barrel for 18 months, and gives a refined and elegant expressive. The fruity notes with touch of spice was what I could perceive, and this was my second next best choice.
Extra Anejo “Origen” is considered Código 1530’s masterpiece, having aged the Blanco for 6 years in the finest Napa Cabernet French white oak barrels. This is said to be a lot like aged whisky and fine cognac, with similar tasting notes, but we didn’t get to try this variant.
Held at Astor Bar in St Regis Kuala Lumpur, the tequila tasting session was also an introduction to guest mixologist Benjamin Padron Novoa, owner of Licoreria Limantour in Mexico.
Codigo 1530, brought in by Dajin Beverages in Malaysia, has partnered with Limantour, ranked World’s No. 10 among The World’s 50 Best Bars. Benjamin will be working with Chris and Codigo 1530 to come up with three cocktails in a new series of tequila mix that will henceforth be part of Astor’s mainstay.