On Wednesday night we hosted the second of our tequila tastings in Soho, with the aim of selecting a new range of special guest tequilas to put on our bar list over the next year.
Since opening Wahaca, we knew we had a job to do when it came to tequila in the UK. It is such a misunderstood drink here, and there’s good reason for that – The prominence of low quality tequilas that leave you with a burning throat and a lingering feeling of regret has done huge damage to its reputation as a quality spirit. So we pledged to only stock tequilas that were of superior quality, 100% agave, and that had passed our own taste test. Move forward 4 years and we’ve got a list of tequilas that we’re really happy with, and we are developing this pledge further. We have been working with the Mexican Tequila Board to search out tequilas that are not available outside of North America. Tequilas that have been made with quality in mind, rather than mass production. The kind of tequilas that are sipped by those that really know what they are talking about. Our aim is to not only be able to offer these tequilas to you, but also to give these smaller suppliers the opportunity to give their products international recognition for the first time.
The Mexican Tequila Board very kindly sent us an early Christmas present of around 35 bottles of just such tequilas. None of which are available outside Mexico, none of which we had tasted before, and all of which sounded like they would be welcome additions to our bar list. But we don’t want to just add any product to our list, so they needed tasting. You don’t get this opportunity every day, so we thought that we’d share them around with our most deserving friends.
We invited our facebook fans to write in and tell us why they should be chosen to join us and we had a great response. We narrowed the field down and selected our panel of experts, who would be lending us their taste buds for the evening.
The evening was masterfully compered by Henry Besant, of the World Wide Cocktail Club, and who is about the most knowledgeable tequila aficionado in the country. He introduced us to a mixed selection of 9 tequilas that he had picked from our consignment and we diligently set to work tasting.
We ended the night having sniffed, slurped and swilled our way through 3 blancos, 3 reposados, 2 añejos and 1 extra añejo. There was debate, an exchange of words such as vegetal, herbal, woody and even bacon, and a pleasant feeling of having been involved in something that signified another small step in the right direction for tequila in the UK. Our voting system led to 4 winners, but there was a general consensus that in fact 3 of these had something extra special which made them stand out: A blanco named Tequila Gran Orendain, an Añejo named La Fortaleza (or Los Abuelos) and an Extra Añejo named Tequila Campo Azul.
Now, we should say here that the funny thing about tasting tequilas that you’ve never heard of before and which aren’t available outside of Mexico, is that occasionally you realise why that’s the case! We did taste some slight duds on the night, especially in the Reposado category. We happily supplemented them with a comparative tasting of our current house pour, El Tesoro Reposado, and were all agreed that there wasn’t any need to force the issue, none of the Reposados could measure up on the night, so they’d stay in Mexico for the time being.
Thank you so much to Kate, Ed, James, Yashoda, Jesús and Paul for responding to our request and coming along and lending us their taste buds and opinions. Thanks also to the Mexican Tequila Board for supplying us with tequilas that wowed, challenged, delighted and surprised us in near equal measure. And finally thank you to Henry for leading the way once more.
You will be able to see the final results from all of our tastings up on our blog soon, and most importantly taste them for yourself as they each take up their monthly guest spots over the coming year. We really hope you’ll enjoy our choices. If you have any thoughts on our tequila list, or general musing about this magical drink, please feel free to let us know in a comment below.