We have something a little different today with a wee vertical from a Scottish tequila brand. Before you scroll on it’s worth highlighting that UWA tequila are offering a twist on this Mexican staple.
Mention tequila in my household and you’re more than likely to be confronted with an impromptu rendition of the Terrorvision classic from 1999. You remember the one, all together now…
Ode to Jose the curse of Cuervo. So hard to say no though it gives one the fever. Pretends to be friendly. Then it’s all over, over. It’s all over, over. Pretends to be fine. Then the curse of Tequila.
During my teenage years, tequila had that air of the desperate. A quick hit on the one-way street to weekend oblivion. The cheaper option at the bar and an acquired taste. A little rough around the edges and classier than a Buckfast or Johnnie Walker Red. It’s unpleasant nature often matched the feeling the morning after the night before. Needless to say, tequila’s reputation like so many spirits at the local nightclub or bar wasn’t that of high status, hence the curse.
Today things have changed for the better, various spirits are fighting back from the mistakes of the past. Consumers nowadays want quality, a hands-on ethic and an enjoyable experience. Tequila is no different, as its close relation in mezcal. We do love mezcal here at Malt and an aim for 2019 is to cover more of this close tequila relation. For the record, tequila can only be made from the blue agave plant and its production is limited to certain states, whereas mezcal is more widespread. It’s utterly fascinating to nose and taste the differences that the can result due to production techniques and varieties of the agave plant. If you’re interested, a recommended read is Mezcal: The History, Craft & Cocktails of the World’s Ultimate Artisanal Spirit book.
Today though we’re taking a closer look at UWA tequila that brings together Scotland and Mexico in a liquid fusion. Founded by Michael Ballantyne, who so happened to know a master distiller in Mexico, with a 50 year old family distillery. It’s this partnership with Luis Trejo and the La Cofradia distillery that has given birth to a twist on the staple tequila theme. Fusion doesn’t necessarily result in success, so it’ll be interesting to gauge whether there is another use for the growing mountains of casks on Speyside.
Platinum Bianco – review
This is bottled at 40% vol and is triple distilled tequila, consisting of 100% Lowland Blue Weber Agave. A bottle of this release will set you back around £50.
Colour: Why are we bothering?
On the nose: A sense of new make spirit familiarity. Then comes the twists with an earthiness matched by juicy fruit – especially peaches – with apple peel and liquorice. In the background, a note that took ages to quantify that I can only suggest is barbecued pork sausages.
In the mouth: Approachable and pleasant. Wine gums, green jelly sweets, more apples and a sweet and sour dynamic. More interesting and complex than you anticipated. Fennel, basil, very herbaceous and liquorice once again. On the finish a pleasant ashy quality.
Platinum Reposado Speyside cask – review
Matured in a Speyside whisky cask for 7 months, this is bottled at 40% vol. and also is a triple distilled tequila, consisting of 100% Lowland Blue Weber Agave. This will set you back around £55.
Colour: A very faint trace of hay.
On the nose: More biscuits, cereal and yes, wood. The fruit aspect has diminished compared to the Platinum. Less earthy as well. This feels more neutral now, a half-way house. Nutty characteristics, dampness and a touch of smoke.
In the mouth: Odd in a word. Hard to describe but again more earthy dampness, morning soil and then potatoes and cauliflower. More liquorice, aniseed, fennel, liquorice and mustard seeds. A green tea quality as well. Star anise followed by a lime finish.
Platinum Añejo – review
Matured in a Speyside whisky cask for 14 months, this is bottled at 40% vol. and also is a triple distilled tequila, consisting of 100% Lowland Blue Weber Agave.
Colour: Now we’re into a more robust hay.
On the nose: Not as pronounced, more mingling and meetings going on. Tequila office culture? Familiar notes of honey, syrup and almonds reveal themselves from the meeting room. Then a mineral quality that I can only summarise as when you’re laying down new stones in the garden; a flint-like limestone apparel.
In the mouth: Now the hay is smoking! Is the party lit? There’s a touch of malt here and an oaky sense with pencil shavings. Time reveals more fennel, aniseed and a dirty vanilla. Very oaky in fact.
Platinum Reposado Sherry cask – review
Bottled at 53% vol., details are limited on this new expression, which has matured in a sherry cask.
On the nose: Musty and dense with chocolate initially. Interesting, murky almost. Possibly cancelling each other out? Wholemeal bread, aniseed and freshly baked cinnamon pastry with a creamy caramel. Time pays dividends here. As does water to loosen up the marriage. Bringing hazelnuts and unlocking a wood emphasis.
In the mouth: Interesting again, thought-provoking. Clearly, the tequila can hold its own against a sherry cask. Vegetative elements, but it is the herbal qualities that come through with fennel, chickory, basil and aniseed. Adding water brings a stronger earthiness that carries into the finish.
Looking back, I’ve really enjoyed this foray into tequila. Like rum, it forces you into new flavours and territories. New experiences whether in whisky or other realms are always welcome here. It makes you stronger and more appreciative. How can you identify with whisky and the world of spirits if you just limit yourself to a handful of bottles?
In terms of the Speyside casks and the fusion element, the key aspect seems to be time. The longer the better as proven by the 14 month period exponent. The sherry cask is very intriguing and hasn’t dominated the tequila spirit whatsoever, as it fights back. And we shouldn’t overlook the pure form of tequila that is certainly better than the Terrorvision days.
Our thanks to UWA Tequila for the samples. As always such free things never influence our opinion. Also the mezcal link is a commission paying one.