Those lime and agave notes come through neatly in Olmeca Altos, a tequila created by and for mixologists. Its bold citrus character and full palate mean that it’s more than able to hold its own in a cocktail.
Alongside clear blanco tequilas is a growing range of tequilas aged in barrel, the oak bringing an amber hue and added palate richness to the spirit. Aged tequilas, labelled “reposado” or “añejo”, according to the time they spend in the barrel, are also “a good way for people who enjoy cognac, whisky, or dark spirits to discover the world of tequila”, du Cray says.
The growing reputation of the Tahona Society, a global network of bartenders passionate about promoting premium tequila, is also contributing to interest in the category. The society hosts an annual event in Guadalajara, Mexico. Over a week-long series of workshops and talks, this year’s gathering saw 29 bartenders from across the globe explore innovation in the world of mixology.
From foraging to fire-singed ingredients “in many ways we’re taking ideas from the chef’s world”, says award-winning bartender Dré Masso, co-founder of the Tahona Society, who also highlights an increasing focus on sustainability as a major trend sweeping upscale cocktail bars worldwide. The week culminated in the Tahona Society Cocktail Competition 2017. Among those competing for the title was AJ Snetler, head bartender of The Twankey Bar in Cape Town, who went on to claim an impressive third place with his African-inspired Tokolosh cocktail.
While premium tequilas may not steal your heart right away, they are fast becoming the drink of choice for savvy spirit lovers. Whether you’re a reposado or a blanco fan, the time of premium tequila has arrived.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Agave-based spirits are made outside Mexico, including in South Africa, but since Denomination of Origin protection was granted in 1977, only agave spirits twice-distilled in five specific Mexican states can be labelled as tequila.