2011 K&L Awards - Best Tequila of the Year
This was a tough category for us to pick just one. Both of us had to declare a tie for our final decision and so we ended up with four different top tequila choices. All four are entirely deserving of the title.
David Driscoll picks: ArteNOM 1079 Blanco Tequila - Jacob Lustig's project of bottling tequilas by their distillery (rather than by brand) would have been fun to watch even if the tequilas weren't good. However, he knows his stuff and he wasn't choosing his producers at random. He knew right where he wanted to go and this blanco from Rancho Buenavista distillery is probably the best blanco tequila I've ever had. So clean, pure, and vibrant. It's the kind of bottle where people taste it and say, "Wow, I never knew I liked tequila so much." It's not you, honey. It's the tequila.
David Driscoll also picks: ArteNOM 1414 Reposado Tequila - One of the most important things I learned about tequila production from Jacob Lustig is that tequila producers chapitalize their must. Legally, they can add agave nectar to the washback, increase the sugar, and get more alcohol from their base. This also results in a sweeter, heavier spirit and when you taste the 1414 you realize what unchapitalized tequila tastes like. You would never have know their was a difference until tasting this reposado. It has all the flavor, the spice, the nuance, and the beauty, just without that fat texture on the mouthfeel. It makes a HUGE difference and, now that I know there is one, I'll be taking my tequila without extra glucose.
David Othenin-Girard picks: IXÁ Blanco Tequila - IXÁ is made in an old and increasingly rare way with fully mature agave plants which are cooked slowly in traditional clay ovens and then fermented and distilled with the agave fiber included, compared to modern distillers who buy agave half the size, pressure cook in a tenth the time, and ferment and distill only the agave juice. This old school method, known to produce excellent tequilas like Siete Leguas, is more time costly, time consuming, and makes all the difference. When you taste IXA you'll understand why they went through the extra effort.
David Othenin-Girard also picks: Grand Mayan Extra Añejo 5 Year Old Tequila - For those in search of the ultimate sipping tequila, look no further. All the richness of a fine Cognac, without the cloying sweetness of some other big-brand tequilas, is present in the Grand Mayan extra añejo - a bargain when you look at the prices of other extra añejos on the market.
-David Driscoll & David Othenin-Girard