There’s no shortage of quality blanco tequila on the market in the U.S.; that is for certain. In comparison with say, bourbon, this could theoretically be seen as one of the more limiting factors in how many successful tequila brands could be expected to be supported by the market at any given time. Where each bourbon is likely to differ in terms of factors like mash bill, barrel type, proof point, maturation length and secondary finishes, most tequilas in the three most common designations—blanco, reposado, anejo—are made to roughly similar specifications as put forth by Mexican law. They’re made from a single species of agave, with most of the premium brands being made in a similar, traditional manner. Most reposados or anejos are aged for similar lengths of time, while all blancos are unaged. The bottom line is that you end up with a whole lot of similar products on the shelves, making the lines of distinction between them more fine and granular.
Tepozán Tequila is a well-established brand in Mexico with 25 years of history behind it, but it’s just hitting the U.S. market for the first time this June. It positions itself with a focus on quality and farm-to-glass production, being an estate tequila made from agave, naturally occuring yeast, and volcanic-filtered well-water from the estate of Master Distiller Don Carlos. As the company puts it, “The estate’s biodynamically-grown blue agave is harvested by hand by local jimadors and meticulously processed and bottled on property using no additives of any kind.”
Today, we have Tepozán Blanco to taste, weighing in at the typical 40% ABV (80 proof). It’s a product of Jalisco, Mexico’s traditional center of tequila production, and carries an MSRP of $45, which puts it pretty firmly into the premium, small producer, “artisanal” territory for a blanco tequila.
With that said, let’s get to tasting.
On the nose, my first impressions here are quite salty, briny and fresh—it’s giving me a seaside-like vibe, with seaweed vegetation that transitions into earthy white pepper. There’s a good amount of agave as well, slightly more cooked than fresh in nature, which contributes a slightly roasted or nutty note. I don’t get a ton of fruit or citrus on the nose, as this is initially striking me as a more savory, salty, agave-forward blanco.
On the palate, this blanco is definitely bringing the spice and herbaceous notes into play. It’s quite peppery, with a “mixed peppercorn” vibe meeting herbal notes of mint and some grassy, greener sweetness. The impression of salinity also carries over, and I’m also getting a bit of anise, giving it a faint impression of something like absinthe. Again, I’m tasting pleasant cooked agave notes, and not a ton of fruit or citrus, despite them being part of its official tasting notes/description. Perhaps it’s just that I’ve had other, more citrusy blancos recently, so this one seems more subdued on that front. Ethanol is quite mild and well integrated, although that’s something you should ideally be able to say for just about any 80 proof blanco.
Overall, Tepozán Blanco strikes me as a clean, somewhat simple tequila profile that offers nice notes of spice and agave, with a kiss of heat. No doubt it will mix nicely in just about any kind of application, although it might have trouble justifying its price point for some more budget-conscious consumers.
Distillery: Tequila Tepozán
Region: Jalisco, Mexico
Style: Blanco tequila
ABV: 40% (80 proof)
Availability: 750 ml bottles, $45 MSRP
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.