The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2011

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Page 40 of 124

CATEGORY REPORT High TEQ CLASSY NEW TEQUILAS KEEP THE AGAVE STAKES ELEVATED by Robert Plotkin T he differences between brands of 100% agave tequilas are years in the making. From the planting of the agave to the bottling of the añejo, the production cycle can take in excess of a decade to complete. It is a time-honored process, steeped in tradition and culture, one in which every decision made along the way will have a perceptible impact on the fi nished product. Cutting corners or speeding up the process may make fi nancial sense, but it’s not how to make great tequila. America’s fascination with 100% agave tequilas can be traced back to the early ‘50s, when Bing Crosby and Phil Harris fi rst imported Herradura Silver into the States. Now more than a half of a century later, consumption of tequila is at a record high, which in turn, has prompted producers to hike production. As of November 2010, there were 1,132 brands of tequila—an increase of 163 new brands last year alone. The unfettered growth of handcrafted tequilas has left many consumers feeling overwhelmed. So which of the brands of 100% agave tequila just making their way onto shelves have what it takes to play in the bigs? Here’s our take on the top 12 contenders. Undoubtedly the most striking tequila making its American debut is artisanal KAH Day of the Dead. The brand is presented in hand-painted ceramic skulls that pay homage to the Meso-American Día de los Muertos tradition. As gorgeous as the bottles are, the certifi ed organic tequila is even more so. The Añejo is aged in American oak for up to two years, while the extraordinarily fl avorful KAH Reposado is bottled at a lip-tingling 110 proof. ELEMENTS SPIRITS, INC. 40 / the tasting panel / april 201 1

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