Week #2 of my new job in the books. It has been rough going from “retirement” to being a working stiff again. My life has been so different due to this job change in ways I never really foresaw. It may seem pretty trivial but I am very much a creature of habit so the changes have been hard to adjust to. My world is shaken up. I went from an SUV to a pick up truck, iPhone to a Galaxy, starting work at 8 to starting at 7, a 10 minute commute to a 30 minute commute. I have such terrible first-world problems. In continuing with the overall theme of being out of my comfort zone, I decided to drink some tequila tonight.
Like most people, I know tequila only in the context of a margarita or those painful, terrifying memories of Jose Cuervo shots in college. The former isn’t the worst thing in the world; margaritas are delicious. But, I sometimes feel guilty that I never give tequila a fair chance. I know that there is a big demographic of people that are into it the same way others are into whiskey. I ended up buying this bottle for a customer but after I left my last job, I figured I’ll just keep it for myself and add it to my pathetic excuse for a bar.
First, a little background. I think most people know that tequila is made from the blue agave plant. But what does that mean? If you have ever seen an agave plant it doesn’t at all look like anything that could be useful for anything enjoyable. The agave plant looks like the top of a pineapple but has a fat, succulent stem in the center of all the leaves. The leaves are shaved off and these starchy, succulent stems are left. They throw those in an oven for a while to get all the juices flowing. Starch, as you may or may not know, is a huge strand of sugar molecules all glued together. So what is happening in the baking process is that they are breaking apart the starch into the smaller sugar molecules that just so happen to be fermentable by yeast. The rest is similar to most of the other spirits out there. Fermented, distilled, barreled. Tequila is distinct from whiskey, for example, in that it can either be bottled un-aged (or very little) and sold as the blanco type of tequila or barrel aged and sold as reposado or añejo. This happens to be the añejo version of tequila which means that it spent at least 1 but no more than 3 years in small oak barrels. This is what gives it that lovely, green-gold color.
Ok, good stuff first. This tequila is as smooth as can be which has not been my experience with a lot of tequilas. It really has a light, almost fruity flavor. I think it picks up a hint of sweetness from the wood sugars in the barrel but it definitely does not have an oaky flavor at all. I am drinking this on the rocks and it is good but, and I am scared to say this, I just feel like I would enjoy it more in a cocktail.
Alright, onto the negative. While I respect that this is a well-crafted spirit at a bargain (less than $30), I realized I am just not into tequila. It has a weird medicinal taste that overwhelms me. I know that I am pretty sensitive to that flavor in general but I think I have finally realized that this is what is preventing me from liking tequila. Also, this one in particular doesn’t have enough back-end, dark flavors to overpower the herbal flavor that bothers me. I have had tequilas that were a little richer and I feel like if I were to get excited about tequila, it would be in that arena. It’s strange. In Spain they drink a lot of Orujo, which is a liqueur and the con hierbas variety I actually drank a lot of when I was there. It’s great stuff and, as you may have guessed from the name, has a heavy, herbal flavor mainly in the anise and fennel flavor spectrum. I didn’t at all mind the herbal flavor there but there is something about tequila that just rubs me wrong.
It’s important to note that in the course of the Sybarite lifestyle, you may encounter things you don’t like. It’s totally fine. You don’t have to like everything just because other people do or because some people spend a lot of money on it. For me, tequila is in this category. The important lesson here is ALWAYS REVISIT THINGS YOU DON’T LIKE. A huge part of getting into food and drink is about expanding your horizons and trying new things. But as you get further into that world, your tastes may change or you may have a new appreciation for things you previously were turned off by. Your palate may evolve, or you may acquire a taste for something and then be able to apply those profiles and appreciation to something you couldn’t understand before. I keep trying to like tequila but for now, it just isn’t happening unless it is thoroughly wrapped up in a margarita. That said, I can see why this stuff was recommended to me and if you are into tequila, please give it a whirl and let me know what you think!