The Tequila Class of 2011: 12 New Agave Sensations
on 02/06/11 at 8:57 amSpirits
The differences between brands of 100% agave tequilas have been years in the making. From the planting of the agave to unbarreling the añejo, the production cycle can take in excess of a decade to complete. It is a time-honored process steeped in tradition and culture, in which every decision made along the way will have a perceptible impact on the finished product. Cutting corners or speeding up the process may make sense financially, but that’s not how to make great tequila.
America’s fascination with 100% agave tequilas can be traced back to the early ’50s when Bing Crosby and Phil Harris first imported Herradura Silver into the United States. Now, more than a half of a century later, consumption of tequila is at a record high, prompting manufacturers to hike production. As of November 2010, there were 1,132 brands of tequila, an increase of 163 new brands in the past year alone.
The unfettered growth of handcrafted tequilas has left many consumers feeling overwhelmed. So which of the 100% agave tequila brands just making their way onto shelves have what it takes to play in the bigs? Here’s our take on the top 12 contenders:
Undoubtedly the most striking tequila making its American debut is artisanal KAH “Day of the Dead: 100% Agave Tequila. The tequila is presented in hand-painted ceramic skulls, which pay homage to Meso-American Dia de los Muertos traditions. As gorgeous as the bottles are, the certified organic tequila is even more so. The añejo is aged in American oak for up to 2 years, while the extraordinarily flavorful KAH Reposado is bottled at a lip-tingling 110 proof.