Category Archives: Stephen Coomes

Casa Noble Joven Review

Casa Noble Joven

 

CasaNoble_JovenFew spirits I’ve tasted—tequila or otherwise—grabbed my attention the way Casa Noble Joven did when I tasted it at the distillery two years ago. Traveling with a press group led by the distillery’s CEO, Pepe Hermosillo, we’d consumed multiple expressions of Casa Noble while there. But this one, packing a 104 proof punch, was simply electrifying.

Not because it was hot or a peppery-boozy tongue lasher, but because at nearly still strength and without any aging, the tequila told the story of the agave from which it came better than any I’d had at that point in my life.

A couple of my peers didn’t agree. They weren’t comfortable with the proof and said Joven overpowered their palates. I thought privately, “You’re missing out! Try it again and get used to it!”

Drinking this way is part of life where I come from in Louisville, Ky. That’s Bourbon Country, where high-proof spirits are preferred by many because that’s where the flavors are. Sure, it takes practice to nose and sip such rocket fuel correctly, but it’s worth it when you taste George T. Stagg 141 proof or a barrel-strength Four Roses.

But Casa Noble Joven didn’t demand such patience. It was—to my palate—immediately drinkable after a few swirls in the glass. Instead of a burn, it felt as if slightly carbonated, a delightful buzzing sensation.

The nose was abundantly fragrant: floral, tropical-fruity and loaded with heaps of roasted agave. It may still be the most inviting tequila I’ve ever nosed. The flavor was lush, laden with sweet agua miel, spicy white pepper and highlands agave minerality. Unlike some of my colleagues, I wanted more and received it in a generous pour from Hermosillo, who smiled in approval.

Two days later, at a tequila dinner in Louisville attended by Hermosillo, I met a liquor store owner who’d bought an entire barrel for his store and was having it bottled. I had to have one. Once acquired, I rationed it out slowly and carefully, treasuring it.

Don’t miss this part: That turned out unnecessary when I made a cocktail with it. Here’s why. Even though I love Joven straight, my standard 2-ounce pour of tequila (any spirit) took over the drink, not the desired effect. Next time I used 1.5 ounces and it was perfect. I’d never had a better margarita.

But wasn’t it too costly at $50 a bottle to use in a cocktail?

Not at 1.5 ounces per pour. When I did the math, I figured out that using Joven to make the ultimate margarita (scratch sour mix only) was actually less expensive than pouring 2 ouncees of Casa Noble’s 80 proof Crystal. Crystal is an exceedingly fine blanco, but its younger brother is even better.

Cannot recommend this one highly enough—if you can find it.

 

stephen coomes, steve coomes,About 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 Penasco Anejo by Steve Coomes

 logo2white2, tequila, penasco anejo, penasco, tequila aficionado, bourbonThe Ohio Valley’s schizophrenic spring weather has had an unexpectedly positive effect on my home liquor cabinet. Since it’s been too warm for the furnace and too cool for the air conditioner, the house temp has averaged about 75 degrees for two months. And one of the most notable beneficiaries is Tequila Penasco Anejo (the bourbon has benefitted, too!).

 

Sipped somewhere in the mid-70s one evening, the blooming butterscotch and cooked agave nose was brilliant. A good bit more swishing elevated vegetal notes, hints of mint, lemongrass, and aguamiel. Since temperature raises alcohol volatility, I remained wary of vapor burn. Still, walking that fine line between elegant fragrance and fire was worth it.

 

The flavor of this spirit, rested 14 to 16 months in oak, was bright and brilliant, launching with all the predictable barrel notes of vanilla and light caramel, even touches of chocolate. Held in the mouth, the añejo delivered lush floral notes backed by cinnamon and some straw. After swallowing, that rumor of chocolate reappeared and then dissolved into bruléed sugar, butterscotch and toffee. Given a brief nap in the glass—and trust me, it’s hard to put down—this expression offered up orange peel, wood and again butterscotch, joined by coriander.

logo2white2, tequila, penasco anejo, penasco, tequila aficionado, bourbon

 

Some spirits lose their body when warm, but not this one. It was full and coated both glass and mouth evenly, always generous and soft to every surface. Vigorous swirling of the golden expression yielded numerous narrow legs lined up and evenly spaced as the Rockettes in action. Think that’s a bit much? Have a look for yourself. (Maybe it was the glass?)

 

Sadly, Tequila Peñasco did not supply any press information, such as what its products cost. A quick web search revealed only the brand’s notoriously wonky website and expired liquor store discount offers for the añejo, but no details. That’s unfortunate given that I’d like to know how it stacks up (at the cash register) against its peers.

 

Suffice it to say, though, if you find it, get it if it fits your budget. It’s a straight-up fine sipper.

 

Follow Penasco online: FacebookTwitter.

 

 

 

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Tequila Penasco Reposado by Steve Coomes

penasco, reposado, tequila, Tequila Penasco Reposado

The quality of tequila pushing into the U.S. market is so high these days that it’s hard to write a really bad review.  It’s easy to be wowed by some more than others, and some, though good, make me question the price point, but I have yet to find one I’d swear off drinking again.

Tequila Peñasco Reposado has extended that winning streak for all the correct reasons:  flavor, aroma and color are all what a reposado is supposed to represent–that perfect balance between a blanco’s vibrancy and that kiss of maturity born of brief barrel rest.

That I liked it this much was particularly surprising given my not-so-favorable reaction to its sibling Tequila Peñasco Plata, an expression I thought fine, but unexciting.  The reposado, however, delivers a 180 as a super-enjoyable sipper.  Every time I’ve drunk it, I’ve always wanted more because it’s so flavorful and easygoing.

In just four to six months barrel time, it makes quick friends with the wood, but no inappropriately deep relationships.  Like a new college graduate who shows some maturity gained in his matriculation, this expression displays complexity while maintaining its youthfulness.  Sip it neat or use it in a cocktail–it’s flexible!  Given my druthers, though, I’d choose this neat.

Its light gold tint is alluring and hints accurately of a light body with a clean finish.  On the front of the palate come good wood accents, touches of cinnamon and just a whisper of pepper.  After a few sips I pick up some fruit, wood flavors and even some crème brulée on the exhale.  This is a spirit any novice tequila sipper could enjoy straight.

Aerating and swirling bring out some butterscotch and brown sugar notes, followed by a good dose of vapor, so don’t nose it too closely like I did (and do too often).  Let it rest and the brown sugar returns alongside a scant bit of toasted bread.

What tingles the tongue up front softens quickly at mid-palate and disappears before reaching the back.   No, it’s not much for finishing, but hey, after less than a half year in the barrel, what do you expect?  Maybe that quick disappearing act is what leaves me so eager for more when I’m finished.

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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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Demetrio Añejo Tequila Review by Steve Coomes

demetrio_anejo__86765.1383765280.1280.1280I like small barrels, and I cannot lie … and Demetrio’s choice of a 200 liter vessel for its añejo is just fine by me.

Some reviewers I’ve read (and respect) object to tequila aged in small barrels because they say that adds too much oak flavor too soon. But as a fan of big-bodied, buttery, oaky chardonnays and woody, luxurious old bourbons, I’m so fond of this technique that I’d say I prefer most añejos aged this way. If not, why spend so much time in a larger barrel with less wood contact and, ultimately, giving so much away to the angels?

The results of this tequila’s 15 to 18-month cooped-up rest are hard to criticize. The añejo delivers a suitable medium body and soft finish, plus a nice tingle up front. It’s highly flavor forward but doesn’t exit hastily. The nose brings forth a bouquet of citrus, mocha, wood and even a hint of bubblegum. In the mouth, its wood notes are accompanied by delicious back notes of cola and cooked agave.ham

I sip tequila when I’m working late, which means oft-interrupted tasting. Those long breaks between sips allow new flavors to emerge, even in the empty glass. Long after it was gone, the traces of this añejo still gave off aromas of pepper and honey.

I also tend to have fun foods at home that pair well with spirits: in this case, some chocolate truffles and slices of high-quality country ham. (If you’re not familiar with this southern U.S. delicacy, it’s salt-cured and dry-aged like prosciutto, lightly smoked and aged about a year.) Chocolate-Truffle-Row_largeBoth not only paired well with the spirit but played well together. The saltiness of the ham brought out mineral notes in the Demetrio, while the luscious chocolate amplified the aforementioned mocha. Impressively, its peppery notes cut through the chocolate at mid-palate: a nice surprise and a great effect. demetrio

Prices for Demetrio añejo I found on the web ranged from $31 to $41 per bottle, and on the low end, that’s a fair deal. But closer to and beyond $40, much as I liked it, I’d keep looking.

 

 

 

 

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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Demetrio Reposado Review by Steve Coomes

If fiery, edgy blancos had their own song, it might go something like this:

 

If I could spend time in a barrel

The first thing that I’d like to do

Is to soften every day

Till all harshness goes away

To ensure I’d be sipped slow by you

 

 

 

 

OK, sorry. That was corny, and all apologies to the late Jim Croce and his treasured song, “Time In a Bottle.” But you get my point that some young tequilas benefit from listlessness in a barrel, where they trade harshness and aggressive spiciness for refined notes of wood, vanilla and cinnamon.

demetrioSome, however, are better off not barreled. With spunky character and an in-your-face-flavor profile that screams, “I AM PEPPER, FEEL ME BURN!” some blancos are more fun if allowed to mouth off—at least until they’re captured and confined to a barrel long enough to become a well-mannered añejo.

And that’s basically what I wished for in this year’s release of Demetrio Reposado: a little more time in the barrel. I wrote about its younger sibling, the blanco, packing loads of fruit, a dash of fire and spice that cuts through a cocktail with ease. I liked it. Like musicians who describe their instruments as having “a voice,” Demitrio’s blanco does, too, and I dig that voice.

But to my palate, the reposado’s voice goes sotto voce during the seven to nine months Demetrio barrels it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice tequila, smooth and fragrant, full of honey and citrus and a sly kiss of yeast. Only a smoker with acute rhinitis would find nothing to like about this expression.

But is it terribly exciting?

Not compared to the blanco or the añejo (I’ve tasted that old dandy already and will write about it later.) To me, it lacks crucial individuality that makes it cravable. Sipping it makes me feel like a father who says to his middle child, “Can’t you be more like your brothers?” The youngest is playful; the eldest, sophisticated. Mr. Middle can’t seem to decide whether he wants to be cool or classy.

But I’ll drink him anyway.

Read more by Steve Coomes here at tequila Aficionado or at www.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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