Category Archives: Stephen Coomes

Demetrio Blanco Review by Steve Coomes

demetrio blanco Growing up in Bourbon Country (I live in Louisville, Ky.), you get used to seeing squat bottles of brown Kentucky Nectar on bars and retailers’ shelves. Even the rare long-neck containers aren’t usually tall, especially compared to some tequila bottles. That marks the first reason I like the trio of Demetrio tequila expressions I acquired this year.

From foot to stopper top, each package is 14 inches tall, a height that keeps them in the front row on my liquor closet shelves. (Sure, it’s a stretch to say this, but its long neck and slender, tight shouldered figure reminds me of Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” but I’m a visual guy.)

The fact is, they’re too tall to go in the back. Like attention seeking children, they stick out among the class of other spirits in the two-tiered closet, forever out of their seat, eager to be seen first.

demetrio blanco, audrey hepburnNot that I consider that a problem for the blanco. Whether sipped neat or coursing through a cocktail, it’s an expression you notice: intensely fruity up front with a nice mid-palate tingle followed by a super-clean finish. Sour mix is a bit heavy for this expression, but it plays nicely with tropical fruit juices.

It boasts a spicy nose, but it’s not assertive with pepper. I got lots of agua miel, agave and honey, even an interesting touch of acetone with several long draws. Long after my glass was empty, it still gave off a back note of yeast, mint and even a hint of strawberry. Very cool!

It’s an easy sipper: lean and light bodied, but leaving no question that it’s been in your mouth many minutes after swallowing. (Get the most out of the aftertaste by closing your mouth and exhaling through your nose. You’ll get some really rich agave and vegetal flavors.)

Back to the bottle: I really like the smooth wooden stopper, which fits so snugly I have thump it to reinsert its rubber cork back into the bottle. That’s handy not only for preservation of the spirit, but in the event such a tall, small-footed bottle tips over (it can happen during extended tasting), there’s no fear of spillage.

My lone quibble: The bottle tag carries good descriptive information about Demetrio, but as a 49-year-old wearer of bifocals, it’s a challenge to read.

Especially after a few tastes.

Read more by Steve Coomes at SteveCoomes.com

 

 
 

 

stephen coomes, steve coomes,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.

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Number Juan Reposado Review by Steve Coomes

number juan tequila, tequila aficionadoNumber juan reposado, tequila, tequila aficionadoThe first two times I tasted Number Juan Reposado, it reminded me of my 15-year-old son in the morning: something that awakens very slowly. For $49, I expected more than clean, mildly spicy tequila that was decidedly low on complexity. But time and future tastings would reveal that Number Juan was only being shy at the start.

Number Juan Needed Time

I abandoned it for two weeks before tasting again, and it was clearly better. But I was suspicious. Maybe my palate wasn’t truly clean or the early arrival of winter was playing tricks with my nose. With each taste, I used the Vinturi Spirit aerator to jump start it, but the fun flavors still didn’t emerge for at least 20 minutes. Some floral notes and cinnamon floated from the glass, but not much more. Two weeks’ time made me like it more, but not overly so, and I shoved it to the back of my liquor cabinet to reach for something else.

Two Weeks Later

Two weeks later I grabbed it for another try, pouring a generous ounce, aerating and sipping it. My immediate reaction was, “This is a whole new tequila.”

I looked back at my notes at two weeks and read, “Tons of bright peppermint, some wood, but barely floral and vegetal. Some honey, but overall narrow flavor profile. Clean, straightforward, inoffensive.”

Three Times a Charm

This third go-round was something special. The peppermint took on some holiday spice and “barely floral” turned into hints of roses. “Some honey” turned into pronounced honey, and “vegetal” gave way good minerality on the palate chased by some dried fruit in the background.

I looked back at my old notes again: “a wisp of smoke, even some cocoa … becoming more delicious with time.” Boy was it! New flavors of cooked agave emerged, trailed by some pronounced wood notes.

In all three tastings, its finish was clean, barely lingering, but on the third it left pleasant heat; not harsh, just confirmation I was sipping it straight.

What began as a good, but not remarkable sipper, Number Juan had become a full-flavored reposado with just a little time and room in the bottle for some air to work.

Lesson learned: Good things come to those who wait.

 
 

 

stephen coomes, steve coomes,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.

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Tequila Ocho Single Estate Plata Review by Steve Coomes

Ocho Tequila El Refugio

Tequila Ocho Single Estate Plata 2012

By Steve Coomes

 

Pouring just an ounce of Tequila Ocho Single Estate Plata 2012 from the bottle sends a rush of fruit into the air. Highly aromatic, but not busily so, this plata greets the nose with aromas of papaya, banana, grapefruit and cooked agave. Swirl it to yield some field grasses, a bit of butterscotch and even cooked bell pepper.

The taste is delightful: loads of agave, white pepper, some peppermint and after some time, a touch of salt. The distiller’s tasting notes mentioned pomegranate, but I didn’t get it. So I walked to my liquor cabinet for a whiff of Pama liqueur, the closest thing I had, and sniffed again.

Maybe, but not clearly.

His mention of green olive brine made sense to my sinuses, as did the his claim of “tutti-frutti.” For me, that came off a bit more like bubble gum, but not at all cloying as that might imply.

As expected, body is medium, and mouthfeel goes from zesty to soft.  Some tingle up front, coolness at mid-palate and a modest finish. After a few minutes’ wait, you get that hint of salt.

Doubtless, a complex plata like this will shine in cocktails, but I’m just fine sipping it. Take your time with this and you’ll find some spice notes popping up within the rest. It’s certainly no sin to mix it in a cocktail, but I recommend something bold, such as replacing your rum of choice with it in a mojito. It’ll pair terrifically with the mint. Shaken with ice and poured neat—that’s a hot day treat!

Since Tequila Ocho’s products are single estate, each bottle is numbered in the event that collectors find it, well, collectible. For what it’s worth, the agave harvested for my bottle was from Rancho Refugio and the vessel numbered 8882. But truth be known, that does nothing to raise the odds of its collectability in my house. This tequila is a treat I’ll be drinking and sharing with friends over the holidays. At $44 per bottle, it’s worth getting another when this runs out.

 

 

stephen coomes, steve coomes,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.

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Tequila Cazadores Reposado Review by Steve Coomes

cazadores

 

By Steve Coomes

Like most, I like bargains, especially on tequila.  So I took a chance on a rebate deal recently that bundled Cazadores Tequila with one of my go-to gin brands. Priced at $23 for blanco and $26 for reposado, both were more than affordable, and with some cash back incentive, I figured it was worth the chance to grab both. If not thrilled with either, I knew they’d likely serve well in cocktails.

Those familiar with Tequila Cazadores’ labels know its mascot is a proud stag. Yet a good swig is all it takes to convince that this reposado isn’t quite as fuerte as that big-racked buck.

Neither the label nor the brand’s website shares any details of just how long the Highlands agave tequila is rested, but the straw color and light body attest to a fairly brief stay. The site does say it enjoys a double distillation and maturation in virgin American oak, but that’s it.

Still, it delivers some nice aromas: solid agave, a little bit of citrus rind and a scant bit of barrel. Let it linger in the glass and you’ll get some vegetal notes. Some vigorous swirling coaxes forth a good number of legs–even a second run if you’re inclined to wait.

Mouthfeel is fine. A little tingly up front, but a softie on the finish, it’s appropriately sweet and nice to move around the mouth. It also shares a bit of cooked agave on the exhale.

It’s not a bad sipper at all, just not memorable in that role. No big barrel notes: no oak, cinnamon or vanilla. I used a Vinturi Spirit Aerator to open it up some, but time in the glass helped more than anything. Since I was working at my desk while sipping, it got about 25 minutes of undisturbed rest in the glass. That let some caramel and a bit of orange sneak in, and a bit later I even got some peppermint–more proof that good things come to those who wait.

Mostly, it plays like a bold blanco, which makes it a good cocktail reposado because it has backbone. Since it doesn’t disappear in a Margarita or a Paloma, and only costs $26, I don’t mind cloaking a reposado in fresh sour mix or grapefruit soda.   That, I believe, is the best way to drink Cazadores Reposado.

 

 

stephen coomes, steve coomes,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.

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Herradura Coleccion de la Casa Review By Steve Coomes

herradura, Herradura Coleccion de la Casa, Reserva 2013 Cognac Cask Finish Reposado

Herradura Coleccion de la Casa, Reserva 2013 – Cognac Cask Finish Reposado

By Steve Coomes, Tequila Aficionado Contributing Writer

In October, I visited Casa Herradura Tequila distillery, in Amatitan, Jalisco, Mexico, where I and five spirits writers tasted the new Coleccion de la Casa, Reserva 2013 – Cognac Cask Finish Reposado. Aged 11 months in American Oak and finished an additional three months in cognac barrels, the new tequila, released this fall left me both perplexed and intrigued.
After just a few sips, I was challenged to conceive what master distiller Maria Theresa Lara was seeking from the second barrel maturation. Clearly, it wasn’t the common profile of an añejo.

Its tasting notes claim a hint of smoked oak, but it eluded my nose and palate. Agave, however, was well represented, as were some delicate vegetal notes. Though leggy in the glass, the mouthfeel was lean: a quick entry followed by a quick exit. A writer beside me described its finishing as “drying,” which was dead on: neither abrupt and sherry-like, nor lengthy and tequila-like.

Curious about the reposado on which the Cognac Finish was built, I asked if we could taste it, and our hosts happily obliged. The differences were stark. The Cognac Finish lacked most of its cousin’s sweetness and fuller mouthfeel. Where one may imagine a double dose of wood might amp up the vanilla, caramel and cinnamon, all three were somewhat muted.

The trade-off was redolent spice, especially white pepper, an abundance of agave, lightly herbaceous undertones and hints of citrus and pineapple. When we lunched later, its lean profile paired amazingly well with a menu that included raw clams and roasted lamb.

This is a sophisticated tequila, well balanced and nicely structured. It plays no tricks and keeps no secrets. What you get after a few minutes’ rest in the glass is largely what you get 20 minutes later—if you let it rest that long that is. Suggested retail: $89 per 750ml bottle; to be sold in Mexico, United States, El Salvador and Australia.

 

 

stephen coomes, steve coomes,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.

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