The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

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Clase Azul: The Stunner When it comes to iconic packaging, Clase Azul’s statuesque, artisan- crafted Talavera style glazed ceramic bottle is among the most visually beguiling on the backbar, and the stuff inside the bottle lives up to the image. Made from organic blue agave and distilled through water refined in a five-step process, Clase Azul is also recognized for its signature smoothness, giving the plata and reposado expressions a sipability that’s hard to top. But the brand’s crown jewel is Ultra (SRP $1800), a complex, robust and rich limited edition extra-añejo that has been hailed as one of the best tequilas in the world since its launch in 2007. From planting to bottling and release, Clase Azul Ultra (only 100 bottles available) is a labor of love that takes 13 years to perfect, but trust us, it’s worth every sip, second and cent. Our Panel Votes: Clase Azul Reposado (SRP $89) is lush and mouth- filling, showing off toasted sherry barrels; sweet and aromatic with notes of apricots in brown sugar and vanilla with a perfume that continues to linger.; imported by Tequilas Premium Karma: The Spiritual Sipper Made from 100% blue agave out of the rich red soils in the high- lands of Jalisco, Karma is produced in a family- owned and -operated distillery that’s been passing on the good karma for generations. It’s still handmade in small batches through a multiple-distillation process, and then blended with both double- and triple- distilled tequila. The brand’s silver tequila is available for sale now at some of the hottest accounts in the country, with the reposado available to hit shelves within the next few months. Partners Gary Eisenberger and Devin Semler wanted a name that was universal—Karma means the same in every language—and founded on their work with children’s charities. Our Panel Votes: Karma Silver (SRP $37) is smooth and sweet-toned, weighty, pure and deep; the spirit comes from batches of double- and tripled-distilled liquid that are melded together. There’s a new look for Espolón in this reinterpreted modern bottle with all Highland agave–based spirit inside. Look for its release next month. Our Panel Votes: Espolón Reposado (SRP $25—a great value), aged six months in new Canadian oak barrels, speaks of chamomile and lemon verbena, gorgeous floral accents and a tease of spiced oak.; imported by Skyy Spirits april 2010 / the tasting panel / 89 John Hanson, President and CEO of Tequilas Premium sips his imported brand, Clase Azul, at Tommy’s Bar in San Francisco. espolón: Tradition Reinterpreted Although rooted firmly in tradition, Espolón has made the most of modern technologies, earning recognition as Best Tequila Factory in the region by the School of Architects and Engineers of Jalisco. Espolón’s embrace of modernity is reflected in its ultra-smooth profile, apparent in its expressions. There exists here an obsession with quality, from agave maturation, maceration and fermentation (classical music plays during the process) through bottling—and now to its all-new packaging that reflects a re-branding and positioning that heralds the modern in a tradition-based brand.

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