For the past six years, sales of premium tequila have been averaging growth of 20 percent per year. The good side of that is that the rot-gut stuff that is only half agave is becoming less popular and the finely crafted good stuff is showing up in more and more bars. But which brands are for real and which ones are just riding the bandwagon?
Fortunately, most of the good stuff is quite good, so most of the silliness in pricing comes from fancy hand-blown bottles, silver medallions, and carved wooden cases. If you’re paying more than $80 for a bottle that hasn’t been aged for years, you are likely paying for one of these marketing enhancements.
Siembra Azul (Blue Harvest) tequila is a nice departure. Trusting buyers to purchase based on taste instead of flash, this is a high-end, high-scoring tequila that puts its money into agave fruit instead of eye candy bottles.
I’ve been sipping the añejo version of Siembra Azul this past week and it ranks among the best I’ve sampled over the years, with the distinct floral and herbal overtones you get from the highland regions of Jalisco and the perfect interweaving of flavors you get from an attention to high quality throughout the process. In this region, the agave plants grow at an average elevation of 7200 feet above sea level, giving them a terroir and flavor profile that many believe is more distinctive and complex than the brands grown at lower elevations.
This version was developed by David Suro-Piñera, a Guadalajara native who has owned a restaurant and tequila bar in Philadelphia since 1986. He wasn’t content to go halfway: each liter requires around 11.5 kilos of agave, compared to a standard level of 7 kilos. The agave piñas are roasted in ovens for 36 hours, with each oven cleaned between roastings. There’s double distillation, copper pot stills, and then the añejo is aged for 12 months in new American oak barrels.
The quality shines through and this tequila has been winning raves in blind taste tests, even before the judges find out that the list price is $45. But what about a hook? Anything to make Siembra Azul really stand out from the pack? Well, how about this—it’s kosher!
For more on the subject, see our feature story on premium tequila in Jalisco.