EZdrinking

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary.

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary. EZdrinking is a drinks blog by Eric Zandona that focuses on distilled spirits, wine, craft beer and specialty coffee. Here you can find reviews of drinks, drink books, articles about current & historical trends, as well as how to make liqueurs, bitters, and other spirit based drinks at home.

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Review: Tequila Cimarron Blanco

Tequila Cimarron Blanco is distilled by Tequilena S.A. de C.V. NOM 1146 and bottled at 40% ABV.

Price: $17-22 per 1 liter

The Tequilena distillery is located in the city of Tequila and run by Enrique Fonseca, a fourth generation agave grower. The distillery is capable of producing up to 15,000 liters of 100% Blue Agave Tequila per day and according to K&L Spirit Buyer, David Driscoll, their aging warehouse has about 20,000 barrels of tequila quietly maturing in the highlands of Jalisco. Along with Tequila Cimarron, Fonseca produces tequila for eight other brands, including T1, Fuenteseca, and ArteNom 1146. 

Fonseca purchased the Tequilena distillery from Bacardi in the 1980s and it has five pot stills and one large column still. According to an interview between Driscoll and Fonseca, their agave is harvested from a number of different altitudes and soil types which lend different flavor characteristics. The pinas are cut with about 2-3 inches of the leaves remaining which gives the resulting distillate a stronger vegetal character. Fonseca cooks his pinas for about 24 hours in large autoclaves at less than 1 atmosphere of pressure and then allows them to slowly cool down for another 24 hours. The roasted pinas are then put into a large screw press which squeezes the juice out of the agave rather than shredding or mashing them. The juice is fermented slowly in large temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, which results in wash around 15% ABV. The wash is sent to both the column and pot stills for distillation. Once distillation is complete the pot and column distillates will be mixed in varying ratios depending on the brand characteristics. After the mixes are made the blanco tequila goes into a tank to rest for a few weeks before proofing and bottling. Since Cimarron is such a clean spirit, my guess that it contains slightly more tequila from the column vs. the pot stills. 

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose is light and pleasant with notes mineral water, pepper and green agave. The nose is simultaneously earthy and fruity with notes of ripe pineapple carried upwards by the alcohol.

Palate: The tequila has a light body with a light acidity and in the mouth it is smooth and round. Cimarron blanco is spicy with notes of pepper and cumin, an earthy sweetness like slightly charred vegetables from the grill.

Finish: The flavor has a short finish but the tequila has a very pleasant warmth that lingers without any burn out harshness. Lightly sweet notes of green agave hold on at the back of the palate waiting for the next sip.

Conclusion: Tequila Cimarron Blanco is an excellent tequila, a great value and fantastic for parties. Cimarron has been made for the bar and cocktail market which fits perfectly because it is very straightforward and clean. The blanco makes an great margarita and even though it is not the most complex blanco on the market the tequila shines through with it's natural fruitiness. Also, Cimarron Blanco would make an excellent tequila for shots if that's your thing. While the simplicity of Tequila Cimarron Blanco does not make it a great sipping tequila, it is incredibly well executed, affordable and fantastic for mixing.

Blind Whiskey Tasting $20 and Under

In June, David Driscoll of K&L Wines wrote a series of post called “Drinking to Drink.” While the series touched on a number of things, one of the themes was how whiskey drinkers often correlate price with enjoyment.  Driscoll argued that just because one whiskey is $80 doesn't mean that a drinker will enjoy it four times more than a $20 bottle.  In that same vein he suggested that there were a number of quality whiskeys that could be had for $20 and enjoyed more regularly without breaking the bank. After reading this series, I was inspired to organize a whiskey tasting of bottles that retailed around $20 or less.  I was curious to find out if there was a whiskey that I had overlooked simply because it lived on a lower shelf in the liquor aisle.

With some help from another post by Driscoll and my own mental list, I put together a list of six whiskies around $20 for the tasting.

  1. Buffalo Trace Bourbon
  2. Old Weller Antique Bourbon
  3. Jim Beam Black Label Bourbon
  4. Evan Williams Black Label Bourbon
  5. George Dickel No. 12 Tennessee Whisky
  6. Bank Note Blended Scotch Whisky

I know that Bulleit Bourbon can also be found on sale for under $20 but my friends and I are pretty familiar with it so I decided to leaving it out of the tasting.  I also decided to conduct the tasting blind. That there are a number of factors that can sway the perception of how good a beer, wine or spirit is based on external factors like, what shelf it's on in the store, label design, bottle shape and price.  I wanted to get an honest assessment of the contents of the bottles without being swayed by some of those external factors, so I had my wife wrap all the bottles in brown paper bags before the tasting.

The night of the tasting a friend of mine hosted the event and provided glasses, snacks and still water. We tasted the spirits in random order in glencairn glasses, neat, at room temperature.  We each took notes about what we tasted and gave each spirit a rating.  Once everyone had tasted all the whiskeys we revealed each whiskey from lowest to highest score.

 The undisputed favorite of the evening was Evan Williams Black Label, the least expensive whiskey, which retails at my local Safeway for $9.99.  I had tasted Evan Williams only once before a few months prior and I thought it would do well in the tasting but I didn't expect it to come out on top. Next came Buffalo Trace and Old Weller Antique.  I wasn't that surprised that these did well for the whole group but personally I was shocked that I had rated Old Weller above Buffalo Trace. This surprised me because I really like rye whiskeys and I have never been a fan of Maker's Mark. I assumed that this meant that I didn't like wheated bourbons and that I preferred bourbons with rye in their mash bill over wheat.  But even at 107 proof, I felt like Old Weller was more balanced and had more character compared to the 90 proof Buffalo Trace.

Dickel, Beam and Bank Note finished in the lower half.  Bank Note is a blended Scotch, and for the price I still think it is pretty good but I suspect that compared to all the bourbons it stood out like a sore thumb, and not it a good way.  The results that evening are exactly why I like to do blind tastings.  My assumptions about what I do and don't like were challenged and as a result I now have two new favorite whiskeys under $20: Evan Williams, and Old Weller.