I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one to notice this, but I think there’s been a shift in the spirits industry. Previously, the big companies were mainly focused on acquiring spirits brands made in America and Europe. But lately, more brands from the Caribbean, Asia, and Latin America have been getting acquired, which tells me spirits that aren’t gin and whisk(e)y are more popular than ever.
A good indicator of this is the various celebrity-owned Tequila and Mezcal brands. If that’s not enough evidence, then we also have the big boys, who are known for their whisk(e)y brands, slowly acquiring more rum and agave spirits brands. One of the companies is Pernod Ricard. From what I know, their most recent acquisition is the Código Tequila brand. While the link to the article only says “to acquire a majority stake,” it seems like a done deal. I’ve already seen distribution of Código switch from independent companies to Pernod Ricard locally and in Singapore, which means they’ve added another Tequila brand on top of already having Avion and Olmeca, as well as Del Maguey Mezcal.
Código 1530 Tequila was founded in 2016 by George Strait, Crocs CEO Ron Snyder, and Federico Vaughan. The brand is produced in Jalisco. Código means “code” in English, but I’ve always chuckled when the brand gets mentioned. Growing up, Código usually referred to cheat sheets for exams.
The brand’s regular expressions are Blanco, Rosa, Reposado, Anejo and Extra Anejo. They also offer various single casks and ex-sherry cask aged Tequila. Aside from these, the brand also produces Mezcal Artesenal and Mezcal Ancestral made in San Juan del Rio, Oaxaca. Their website says these are all 100% agave and have no additives.
I have sample bottles of their Blanco, Rosa, Reposado and Añejo. But, I’ll be reviewing the Reposado next time when I compare it to another Reposado Tequila.
Código’s Blanco is unrested. Some tequila brands rest their blanco in stainless steel tanks to let it breathe. This isn’t that different from practices for an Agricole rum. The breathing lets the heat in a spirit die down – and even change a bit – due to more exposure to oxygen.
Código 1530 Blanco – Review
40% ABV. USD $46.99 from K&L Wines.
On the nose: Initially, I get a mild and pleasant aroma of agave that lingers. Behind it are mild pepperiness, asparagus, herbs, vanilla, and a mix of caramelized citrus peels. At the end is a bit of salinity.
In the mouth: Compared to the nose, the agave taste here is lighter but still pleasant. The pepperiness has become slightly bolder, while the other flavors are much less coherent. I still get subtle tastes of vanilla, citrus peels, and herbs.
I was loving the nose, but it disappoints in the mouth. Smelling this was great. Despite the lack of complexity, there was a fair amount of enjoyable and coherent aromas. Then, every note aside from the agave just becomes a mess.
Their Rosa is rested for one month in uncharred Napa Cabernet French White Oak barrels. By uncharred, I’m guessing they mean toasted. This is a nice change, as most Blancos that get rested in either inert containers like stainless steel tanks or ex-bourbon casks. The ones that end up in active casks often get called Plata.
Without knowing what barrels these spent time in, I initially assumed this was aged in ex-rosé wine casks, because rosa and rosé sound similar, and the tequila has a pink hue. But upon reading this, I remembered that rosa means red in Spanish. So, it’s more likely that this was aged in red wine casks.
Código 1530 Rosa – Review
40% ABV. USD $59.99 from K&L Wines.
Color: Light pink.
On the nose:
I get a mellow but medium aroma of agave. With it are subtle aromas of pink peppercorn, cherries, strawberry-flavored marshmallows. and sakura. At the end is a bit of a plastic balloon note.
In the mouth: The pepperiness is more aggressive. It gets in the way of the agave and red wine cask influence. I get an incohesive mix of herbs, vanilla, red hard candies, agave, and citrus.
Like the blanco, this is better on the nose than in the mouth. Because the tequila only spent one month in the cask, not many flavors were imparted. But, as a purist, I think it’s nice since it allows the agave to shine more. Still, using ex-wine casks is a nice twist as it might tempt more wine drinkers to look the way of the brand.
The Código 1530 Añejo aged for 18 months in French White Oak wine barrels. This is a nice change, too, as they’re using French Oak instead of ex-bourbon casks which use American white oak.
Código 1530 Añejo – Review
40% ABV. USD $119.99 from K&L Wines.
On the nose: I get medium, short, and pleasant but some-what sharp aromas of roasted agave, honey, nougat but heavier on the nuts, vanilla, cinnamon, and caramel.
In the mouth: I get medium and slightly lasting tastes of roasted agave, honey, vanilla, nuts and caramel. The roasted agave with nuts and cinnamon can be tasted more at the end.
As someone who prefers unaged agave spirits, this one shocked me. After the 18 months of aging in casks, much of the pepperiness and herbal character of the agave are gone. What’s left of the agave character is the sweet spiciness that makes me think of the roast agave that’s heavy on nuts. But, among the three SKUs in this review, this is the most consistent. As what I got on the nose is also what I get in the mouth.
By tasting this, I’m more inclined to think that Código’s is one of the few brands that I’d prefer for their aged tequilas. Part of me thinks that much of the work is due to the French oak they used. Because most ex-wine casks are just toasted, the cask influence doesn’t overpower the agave flavor. Though, I wish this had more complexity to it. The flavors are solid, but you don’t get much in terms of variety. A bit expensive for an 18 month old spirit as well.
(5/10 if the price isn’t considered)
Lead photo author’s own. Bottle images courtesy of Código 1530.