A complete of 21 agave-based spirits throughout six totally different classes made the ultimate judging “Sweeps” spherical on the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC). These spirits consisted of Tequila (4 classes), Mezcal (one class) and All Other Agave Spirits (one class).
An extra 16 Tequilas and Mezcals scored Double Gold medals.
Founded in 2000, the SFWSC is the oldest competitors in North America and the biggest spirits judging on the earth. A complete of 70 judges from world wide evaluated roughly 5,000 spirits over two weeks in April 2022.
The competitors is organized by the Tasting Alliance, a company based by Anthony Dias Blue, and along with the SFWSC consists of spirit competitions in New York and Singapore and wine competitions in San Francisco and New York.
Agave-based spirits are more and more being produced all around the world. Moreover, over the past decade, the Mexican authorities has outlined the official manufacturing zones for the varied agave-based spirits produced there. The result’s a steadily increasing vary within the aroma and style profiles of agave-based spirits.
Historically, agave-based spirits have been related to Mexico. The bulk of those spirits continues to be produced there. Of these, Tequila represents round 98% of Mexican agave spirit manufacturing, whereas Mezcal and the lesser-known Mexican agave spirits like Sotol, Bacanora and Racilla, amongst others, signify round 2%.
Agave, nevertheless, has round 270 totally different species and is indigenous to a broad zone stretching from the southern United States to northern Chile. There is a long-standing historic custom of creating agave-based spirits all through this area from any variety of wild agave species. Few of those spirits can be found within the United States, nevertheless.
Moreover, the Blue agave (Agave tequilana), from which Tequila is made, is now been efficiently cultivated from Texas to South Africa to Australia.
All of Mexico’s better-known agave-based spirits now have delineated zones of licensed manufacturing, though the geographic boundaries of some areas are nonetheless being fine-tuned. Many of the licensed manufacturing zones overlap.
Tequila will be produced anyplace within the state of Jalisco and sure parts of the states of Nayarit, Tamaulipas, Guanajuato and Michoacan.
Mezcal will be produced in 9 states. While Oaxaca is taken into account the guts of the Mezcal producing zone, the spirit may also be produced within the states of Guerrero, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Michoacan, Tamaulipas and Puebla.
Bacanora can solely be produced within the state of Sonora, whereas the official manufacturing zone of Racilla is centered round Puerto Vallarta and consists of parts of each Jalisco and Nayarit states.
Tuxca, a little-known agave spirit, is produced from wild Lineno and Cimarron agaves from a area centered across the city of Tuxcacuesco. The official manufacturing zone covers parts of southern Jalisco and northern Colima states.
Comiteco, one other little-known spirit, is produced across the city of Comitán de Dominguez within the state of Chiapas. It is produced from the fermented agave sap of the Comiteco agave (Agave atrovirens). The species, traditionally, grew wild within the area round Comitán. During the nineteenth century, the manufacturing of Comiteco rivaled that of Tequila. A dwindling provide of untamed agave, nevertheless, slowly drove the spirit into obscurity.
Sotol is a spirit produced from the Dasylirion plant, usually Dasylirion wheeleri. The plant grows wild within the Sonoran Desert of Chihuahua and Sonora, in addition to the desert areas of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Historically Dasylirion was thought of a subspecies of agave, however the species has just lately been reclassified botanically as a member of the asparagus household (Asparagaceae). So, whereas handled as an agave spirit, technically Sotol isn’t produced from agave.
There have been three finalists in The Best of Class: Añejo Tequila Black Sheep Tequila Añejo, Don Julio Tequila 70 Cristalino and Siempre Añejo Tequila
The Black Sheep Tequila is produced on the Integradora San Agustin, S.A. de C.V. distillery (NOM 15647) in Tototlán within the Jalisco Highlands. It is one in all about two dozen totally different Tequila manufacturers produced on the distillery.
Black Sheep describes its Tequila as a “farm to bottle,” “single estate, small-batch line of Tequilas.” In addition to the standard lineup of Blanco, Reposado Añejo and Extra Añejo, the corporate additionally bottles a unprecedented 15 YO Tequila it calls Antano (Spanish for yesteryear).
The Black Sheep Añejo Tequila confirmed:
Pronounced vanilla notes on the nostril with a touch of black pepper and fruit notes. Well balanced, dry on the palate, with fruity and a slight caramel be aware. Long candy fruity end.
The second finalist is a Mexican traditional, Don Julio, Tequila 70 Cristalino. It’s produced in Atotonilco El Alto within the Jalisco Highlands.
Cristalinos are Tequilas, usually añejo or additional añejo and in some circumstances reposados, that bear a filtration course of to take away the colour induced by barrel ageing. The result’s a crystal-clear Tequila that resembles a Blanco Tequila however retains the vanilla and caramel notes typical of an aged Tequila.
The Don Julio Cristalino was:
Minerally, candy, with noticeable vanilla notes. Sweet and creamy on the palate with lingering vanilla notes.
The Siempre Añejo Tequila is easy and creamy. It exhibited aromas and flavors of:
Salted caramel, with slight bread notes together with dried fruit. There are cooked tropical fruit notes of banana and a little bit of mango. The end is lengthy, easy and fruity.
The finalists for The Best of Class: Extra Añejo have been Rancho Sierra Mar Extra Añejo Tequila, CalFino Extra Añejo and Ateneo Extra Añejo.
Ranch Sierra Mar is a slightly obscure model that seems to be related to Myrtle Bank Rum, a Jamaican rum producer. The Tequila was once produced on the Tequila Las Americas distillery in Amatitán within the Jalisco lowlands. It’s not clear whether it is nonetheless produced there.
The Ranch Sierra Mar Tequila confirmed:
Distinctive vanilla and caramel notes on the nostril. Smooth and flavorful on the palate, with a slight tannic dryness. Very fruity with a creamy, nearly crème brûlée like high quality.
The second finalist for Best of Class Extra Añejo, CalFino Tequila Extra Añejo, reveals:
Vanilla on the nostril with slight tropical fruit notes. Sweet and creamy on the palate however barely drying. Long fruity end.
The finalists for Best of Class Reposado Tequila have been Lobos 1707 Reposado Tequila, Don Nacho Reposado Tequila and Cincoro Reposado Tequila.
The Lobos 1707 model was based by Diego Osorio, a member of a household whose involvement with Tequila date again to 1707, therefore the title.
All the Lobos Tequilas are completed in casks that beforehand held Pedro Ximénez (PX) Sherry. PX is a thick, viscous Sherry produced from partially dried grapes. It imparts sweetness in addition to flavors of fig, date and raisin.
The Lobos 1707 confirmed:
Some vanilla and dried fruit on the nostril. Sweet however barely drying on the palate with caramel, dried fruit and seasoned wooden notes. Long candy, fruity end.
Cincoro, a model related to basketball nice Michael Jordan and different NBA luminaries, is a Tequila designed particularly for an American palate. It’s easy, candy, and fruity.
Don Nacho is a premium Reposado Tequila. This is a really fruity Tequila that reveals:
Aromas of honey together with tropical fruit notes of banana, mango, melon, guava in addition to citrus notes of lime and orange. There are additionally slight natural/vegetative notes of agave and chamomile.
The finalists for Best of Class Silver/Gold (Unaged or Blanco Tequila) have been Tequila Ocho Plata, Certeza Blanco Tequila, El Tequileno Platinum, Serpiente Blanco Tequila and Cava de Oro Plata Tequila.
Tequila Ocho Plata is produced by Master Distiller Carlos Camarena on the household’s Destileria La Alteña (NOM 1139). The distillery additionally produces Tapatio, one in all Mexico’s best-selling Tequila manufacturers, in addition to El Tesoro de Don Felipe. The latter model is now owned by Beam Suntory however continues to be produced at La Alteña.
Camarena has been utilizing the Ocho Tequila model to discover the idea of terroir in Tequila, bottling site-specific Tequilas. This is one other farm-to-glass Tequila model with every bottling coming from agaves produced at a single website and harvested in the identical 12 months.
These are additionally, by default, vintage-specific Tequilas. Since it takes roughly eight years or extra to mature an agave crop, the “vintages” from every particular website are eight years or extra aside. Each 12 months, agaves from a distinct website are used.
The Tequila Ocho Plata reveals:
Minerality with slight, caramel, and cooked agave notes on the nostril. Sweet on the palate with cooked caramel and barely roasted/cooked marshmallow notes. Fruity with a protracted, lingering, candy end.
Certeza, Tequila Blanco is far sweeter, displaying:
Toasted marshmallow on the nostril with a noticeable candied sweetness. Sweet and easy on the palate with pronounced caramel and toasted marshmallow notes.
El Tequileno Platinum is one in all Mexico’s fastest-growing Tequila manufacturers. It demonstrates:
pronounced Agave notes with a particular earthiness accompanied by pepper and slight cinnamon notes. There are additionally citrus fruit notes of lemon and orange together with tropical fruit notes of melon and mango. There can be a slight vegetative be aware of dried thyme.
The finalists for Best in Class: Mezcal have been Los Vecinos del Campo Mezcal Espadin, Montelobos Espadin Mezcal, Mezcal RAUMEN, Mezcal Vago, Magia Mezcal, and La Luna Mezcal Espadincillo.
Los Vecinos is a three way partnership between Casa San Matias, the oldest Tequila producer within the Jalisco Highlands, and Sazerac. The model has been a perennial winner in International Spirit Competitions.
The Mezcal reveals:
Earthy aromas with a cooked vegetative be aware on the nostril. Sweet, fruity on the palate with a slight licorice be aware.
Montelobos Espadin Mezcal exhibited:
Minerally and earthy on the nostril with hints of smoke. Slightly candy on the palate with a noticeable savory be aware and a few natural and fruity flavors.
While the Mezcal RAUMEN is described as:
Tropical fruit notes and natural aromas on the nostril. Dry on the palate with pronounced earthy and vegetative notes, a touch of licorice. It has a protracted end with natural and licorice notes.
Mezcal Vago Ensamble-en-Barro, is bottled at a 50.2% ABV. It reveals:
a particular floral be aware on the nostril with a refined however persistent earthiness.
Vago is a consortium of 5 totally different Mezcal producers, every of whom makes their Mezcal in numerous elements of Oaxaca utilizing totally different manufacturing strategies.
This specific Mezcal is produced by Tio Rey utilizing ancestral strategies and doesn’t make use of any mechanical or electrical instruments. Rey makes use of conventional clay pots for distillation. These contribute smoothness to the Mezcal in addition to a pronounced earth be aware.
Magia Mezcal gives up aromas of moist earth, with citrus and agave notes and a touch of smokiness.
La Luna Mezcal Espadincillo is produced from a wide range of Espadin agave native to the state of Michoacan. The Mezcal has received Gold and Double Gold medals in worldwide spirit competitions. It gives up floral aromas together with smoke, roasted corn, vanilla, and citrus fruit.
The solely finalist in Best of Class: All Other Agave Spirits was the AQARA Agave de Los Andes, Rito.
AQARA is a Peruvian agave spirit producer that makes use of Agave cordillerensis and Agave americana. Both species are indigenous to the Peruvian Highlands.
The firm has been a perennial medalist in worldwide spirit competitions. The Peruvian agave spirit reveals:
Minerally and earthy notes on the nostril. Slightly candy and fruity on the palate. The end is lengthy with fruity and licorice notes and barely peppery.
The 21 agave spirits that made it to their respective closing “Sweeps” rounds are all excellent. They vary from well-known established manufacturers to obscure craft producers. They illustrate the large range of agave spirits, a range that can develop much more complicated as agave spirits from elsewhere world wide are launched.
Mexico, with its Tequila, Mezcal and different native agave spirits will at all times be the epicenter of agave spirits, however the vary of those spirits is destined to develop much more diverse and complicated as different, non-Mexican producers, launch new expressions.
The 2022 SFWSC agave spirits judging produced an impressive set of medalists, all of which supply excellent Tequilas and Mezcals; many at distinctive costs. Be certain to take a look at the 16 different Tequila and Mezcal expressions that scored Double Gold medals on the Tasting Alliance web site.
We are within the golden age of Tequila and Mezcal. If you’re an fanatic of both one or agave spirits usually, you might have many new expressions to find.