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By Tom Thornton | November 14, 2016 | Food & Drink
Extra añejo tequilas offer sophisticated layers of sweet and savory complexity.
The age of añejo: As master distillers begin aging tequila longer, the rise of extra-añejos is placing Mexico’s national spirit on the top shelf amongst whiskeys and Cognacs.
Añejo tequila served neat has been a staple at Austin’s smartest bars since the category’s establishment 10 years ago. Pairing a year (or more) of barrel aging with tequila’s earthy, sweet agave complexity and peppery spice offers much for the drinker to savor. Building on this momentum, tequila houses are adding extra añejo expressions: These tequilas are aged over three years in oak to impart luxurious, rich flavor—an exciting development for aficionados.
A subtly brilliant reference point is Herradura’s Seleccion Suprema ($350), aged for 49 months in white oak barrels. Although it might evoke Highland single malt Scotch, the agave shines through with vanilla and peppery accents and a creamy finish.
Two brands with local ties also offer variants of extra añejo. Austinite John Paul DeJoria’s Gran Patrón Piedra ($400) is aged in new American and French Oak for four years, with a flavor profile Patrón manager of trade education David Alan calls “sophisticated [and] sweet, with a rich and complex earthy flavor, accented by light vanilla and fresh mushroom. The finish feels like it lasts indefinitely.” Austin-based Dulce Vida’s critically acclaimed extra añejo ($150) is aged for five years in Napa wine barrels and bottled at 100 proof. The resulting expression is bold and spicy, with oak and caramel mingling with peppery agave.
Befitting founder Eric Dopkins’s past at Deep Eddy Vodka, Dulce Vida in August introduced a line of lime and grapefruit-infused blanco tequilas. While other “lime” tequilas on store shelves are billed as liqueurs, the Dulce Vida product uses natural flavors and real juice to simplify mixology. Dopkins suggests “a nice splash of Topo Chico and a muddled jalapeño” as suitable additions.
photography by ipopba / getty images