Tequila is a joy. It’s got all of whiskey’s complexity but its aficionados aren’t quite so self-serious. There’s far less chance you’ll get judged for mixing a top-shelf tequila into a Paloma than for mixing a top-shelf whiskey into an old fashioned. Besides that, there’s something about a shot of tequila that opens the door to wild times and the fun variety of bad decisions.
With summer — checks notes — here! TODAY! I asked four of our staffers to blind taste 14 bottles of tequila in a single sitting. At the office. The whole scene turned a little messy by the end, but four of the five of us managed to keep it together through the tasting. The nice thing about this blind test is that everyone came to the table with a different knowledge base. Head drinks writer Zach Johnston was the expert and we let him know what he was drinking, to create a sort of baseline. I’m pretty solid on tequila, so I felt like I could make a few educated guesses on what was what. Vince Mancini and Mike Botticello are both more whiskey experts but they’re eager to learn (Vince just went to a weekend workshop with Herradura). Finally, Allison Sanchez was a complete newbie, which was fun and provided us with some raw, funny takes.
Check the list below to find a bottle you’re keen on. Then get outside on solstice day, have an adventure or two, and make yourself a few Palomas round about sunset.
1. Casa Noble Añejo — Retails for $74.99
What To Expect (by non-blind taster Zach Johnston): Muted vanilla should be distinct. Then a vegetal essence comes in with a saccharine cream soda vanilla sweetness and a hint of spicy fresh chili peppers.
Mike: Now this dog has bite. As in the dog of the hair, before the hair of the dog. Traditional tequila expectations reside here.
Vince: Medicinal. Mouthwashy. Not a fan. Or maybe I just need to get used to agave again, since this is dram #1.
Steve: Nice grassy agave fading quickly and growing creamy on the palate. If you could afford to mix with this — I reckon it’s pricey — you’d be in heaven. Otherwise, I’d like an ice cube to open it up a little.
Allison: I want to say very quickly that I’ve never sipped tequila in my entire life. I’ve had it in drinks and I’ve licked salt and taken shots — so when I take a sip of this first tequila I make the world’s worst face. After a couple of sips though, it’s kind of okay. Smooth. But it smells like a combo of plastic and sweet which reminds me of a Barbie who came with her own signature perfume. That could be because of the plastic shot glasses. Probably is.