04 February 2016 11:18

Tequila Sipping Revolution

A New World Tequila Drinking Experience with Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado

Tequila has come a long way over the last 250 years. From its early days as a drink for bandidos and rancheros it has grown in popularity, and refinement and premium craft tequila is fast showing its appeal to sippers worldwide.

What comes as a surprise to most, is that in Mexico, tequila is sipped rather than slammed, shot or mixed in Margaritas. Best drank in a caballito (a tapered long shot glass) with sangrita or cold beer, while some even drink it in a cognac snifter glass.

Award-winning bartender, tequila aficionado and official ambassador for Jose Cuervo Tradicional, Siavash 'Marshall' Behaein explains what to look for, how to drink it and what to pair it with.

Marshall says that the biggest mystery among the uninitiated, is that nobody seems to know how to drink tequila other than in a cocktail or as a shot but when enjoyed correctly tequila can be as fine a spirit as a single-malt whisk(e)y, bourbon or cognac.

"To start off you need a great tasting 100% blue agave tequila," he says. "Only premium craft tequila is made from blue agave (pronounced: Ah-Gah-Vey). You will find '100% de agave' on the bottle to indicate this."

HE EXPLAINS: "This essentially means that the alcohol contained within the bottle is a direct result of the fermentation of the agave and only the agave; no sugar or other additives have been included which results in a better tasting tequila."

Try the newly launched Jose Cuervo Tradicional, it is the original tequila produced 220 years ago by Jose Cuervo himself, and it is the first documented tequila ever made, it is unlike any other tequila and is produced specifically for sipping.

"Set aside the shot glass and choose the right glassware - a snifter or traditional caballito glass (slightly more tapered and longer than a shot glass) works best," he says. "You can apply most of the same tasting rules to tequila as you would to whisk(e)y or cognac but here are some basic steps to get you started:"

LOOK AT ITS COLOUR: You can tell if it's a 100% blue agave tequila by looking at the consistency of the liquid, tequilas that have been aged for longer will have a heavier, thicker body.

For example Tradicional is a pale straw-coloured 100% blue agave rested tequila, made from agaves harvested at the peak of their maturity (7-10 years), baked in stone clay ovens, carefully fermented and double-distilled in small artisanal stills and then rested in white oak barrels. It is aged for no less than four months, which mellows and refines the tequila, producing a combination of superb smoothness and great taste.

SAVOUR THE AROMA: Whatever you do, do not sniff the liquid like you would wine, this is 40% proof alcohol so by doing this you will oversaturate your nose. Little sniffs are best and try to see what you can identify without swirling the liquid. Next, swirl the glass and take note of the different aromas.

Tradicional has delicate, tissue box perfume and exotic peppercorn and cooked agave aromas, with herbaceous hints of olive, fruit (banana) and a light wood overtone.

SIP IT SLOWLY: Take a small sip and take the tequila onto your tongue. Keep the liquid in your mouth and breath in with your mouth slightly open to taste the flavours. Finally, swallow it and the back-end notes will emerge.

Tradicional is extremely well balanced and clean in taste, flavours of cooked agave, light smoked aftertaste, herbaceous, subtle citrus and slightly spicy. A round entry leading to an off dry light to medium bodied palate with light caramel, toasted spices, oak and agave.

WHAT TO DRINK IT WITH: Tequila comes from Mexico so pairing it with food from the region is the best option. Salsas, roasted tomatillo, tacos and citrus flavoured desserts will all go well with sipping tequila. Pairing tequila with food is much like pairing wine; you look for things like acidity, freshness and bitterness to bring out the flavours.

In Mexico it is customary to sip Tradicional with sangrita or a cold beer. It's best served chilled in a snifter glass or sipped from a caballito shot glass with craft beer (signature serve).

For more information go to Facebook.com/JoseCuervoSA or join the conversation on Twitter @JoseCuervoSA #TradicionalSA

Tradicional is available at most bottle stores at a cost of R230.