As an old journalist, I fancy myself a decent researcher, but gathering good intel on Tequila Peñasco is difficult. Its website is buggy and provides scant information about what appears to be a young brand. The oldest press releases there date back to 2013 and its distribution in the American market is only to seven states. Its extra añejo expression is 39 to 42 months old, however, which proves the brand’s given its products at least four years’ consideration.
There’s no claim that Peñasco distills its own juice (made from Highlands [Jalisco] agave, according to another website), so it’s likely the spirit was made at an unnamed plant and sourced and, for all we know, blended by Peñasco.
Thankfully, its four-expression lineup is simpler to understand, especially its plata. It’s about as straightforward as tequila gets. Flavorful, smooth, sippable or useful in cocktails. Aficionados everywhere try, try and try again to find deeper more complex flavors in everything we sip, but this one hides nothing: it’s all up front and presented on the proverbial platter. No deep thought needed. Just taste and appreciate.
Immediately and throughout the mouth, you get roasted agave and white pepper. With a moment’s wait comes a little lime. Nice. A couple more sips delivers a pleasant toasty note backed by a little fusel alcohol and some shy minerality.
After its peppery-fruity intro, you get more minerals and a bit of brine mid-palate, which I love. Unfortunately, that effect doesn’t come back with more tasting; I only get it when my palate is completely clean.
Since it’s light bodied and refreshingly sweet, it’s good (maybe best?) consumed neat. But there’s no lingering finish at all. You swallow it and it’s gone. Some will definitely find such cleanliness ideal, but I like some “mouth memory” for further consideration upon exhaling.
It works in cocktails, of course, but it doesn’t stand up well to particularly sweet or fuller-bodied mixers. For example, if your sour mix is straight lime and agave syrup, be sure to thin out your syrup at least 1:1 to help this plata cut through. Otherwise it doesn’t stand a chance. Even fresh-squeezed white grapefruit gave it a bit of a fight. The rest of the line, which I’ll review later, stands up admirably to the mixer test.
Tequila Aficionado is proud to welcome rising star in tequila and travel journalism, Stephen Coomes, as a Contributing Writer and Reviewer. His steady gigs include roles as contributing editor for Nation’s Restaurant News (the U.S. restaurant industry’s largest publication), restaurant critic and feature writer for Louisville magazine, feature writer for Edible Louisville and Seafood Business magazines, Kentucky travel and dining contributor for Southern Living, and dining blogger for Insider Louisville. He also writes marketing, PR, web copy and ghostwrites for numerous private clients. You can visit Steve online at www.stevecoomes.com.