Dulce Vida Organic Tequila (Blanco)
Review: Dulce Vida Organic Tequila (Blanco) 89/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on November 28, 2014
(updated to include additional information May 22, 2015)
Dulce Vida Organic Tequila is produced from 100% organic agave grown in the Los Altos highlands which are situated in the Tequila Region of Mexico. As a highland tequila, we can expect the Dulce Vida to exhibit strong fruity citrus notes and to have a little hot pepper in the delivery and in the finish. As this Tequila is additionally bottled at 50 % alcohol by volume, we can expect these highland characteristics to be more pronounced or assertive given the higher concentration of the spirit.
Dulce Vida produces the only 100° proof, 100% organic tequila (also free from additives of any kind) in the world. As well as being 100% organic, this spirit is also produced in a manner which embraces the concept of sustainability. During production of the spirit a complete waste recapture program is set in place which results in the production of a nutrient-rich soil supplement which is supplied to the local farming community. As well, the methane gas which is produced as a by-product of the waste collection & processing is captured and utilized to help power Dulce Vida’s production facilities in the village of San Ignacio Cerro Gordo at Campanario (in Mexico of course).
Although the Dulce Vida website does not specify the exact distillery which produces this agave spirit, I did notice that the identified NOM on the bottom of the label 1443. This NOM identifier is required by the Mexican Government to be placed on the label of each bottle of tequila to verify that it is produced legally from agave sourced in the Tequila region of Mexico. Each distillery has its own NOM, and thus we can trace the distillery of origin. In this case it is the Don Pilar Distillery who of course also produce Don Pilar Tequila.
Dulce Vida Organic Tequila was recently released in Ontario, and I was provided a sample bottle of the blanco spirit by the distributor Woodman Wine and Spirits.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
When I unveiled the Dulce Tequila bottle at my last tasting, my guests seemed to like the presentation better than I did. The spirit arrives in a tall slender bottle which I admit has a nice appeal; however, I found it rather difficult to place this tall bottle on my tequila shelf which is constructed for the more typical short and squat tequila bottle. The ‘slender tallness’ of this bottle has the additional drawback of being a bit unstable requiring only a small jostle to knock it over.
Having said that,the bottle is sealed with a nice synthetic cork closure, and the labeling is more than satisfactory. My guests at the tasting especially liked the embossed tequila plant which was printed on the back of the bottle (which also makes the bottle easy to grab). I liked that my particular bottle was identified as NOM 1443 from batch number 16. Labels which help to identify a particular batch are very helpful to the producer and the consumer if something appears to be wrong with a particular bottle.
Overall the good certainly outweighs the bad, although a shorter squat bottle would have garnered a perfect score.
In the Glass 8.5/10
I poured out a small sample of the Dulce Vida Organic Tequila into my glass and began the review process by examining the spirit visually before I began to nose it. It is of course a clear spirit which would not have spent any time aging in oak barrels. I gave my glass a light tilt and a slow swirl and discovered a light sheen of tequila left on the inside of the glass the crest of which gave up a multitude of very small droplets which formed very skinny legs which ran back into the spirit at the bottom of the glass.
The initial aroma from the blanco spirit is somewhat peppery with a sweet underlying agave scent. There is a light earthy quality which sits within the spicy pepper and some effervescent citrus notes which remind me of lightly sweet grapefruit and lime citrus zest. The breezes above the glass also carry impressions of fresh garden mint, some very mild licorice and a hint of the smell of wet grass just after a light rain shower. All of the impressions above the glass are in harmony and they seem to carry less intensity than I would normally expect from a highland tequila, especially one which is 50 % alcohol by volume.
In the Mouth 54/60
The peppery highland character of the tequila which was somewhat subdued as I nosed the glass, came rushing at me when I took my first sip. That first taste revealed the spirit had a spicy intensity with hot white pepper and effervescent citrus zest leading out in front. This was not unpleasant in any way, as within that spicy heat I could also taste soft earthy agave flavours reminiscent of fresh garden cucumber, grilled zucchini and baked squash. There was also an underlying sweetness which almost tasted of butterscotch and light vanillans. As I continued to sip the blanco spirit I tasted tiny bits of cinnamon, hints of anise, and some sweet impressions of sugar cane followed by a hint of cool menthol.
The dichotomy of the spirit is wonderful, and the result is a very interesting blanco spirit full of spicy character, yet also capable of displaying tender nuances within the spicy heat.
During the tasting flights for the 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge, the Dulce Vida stood out from the crowd as the light earthy quality which I noticed when I sampled the tequila neat manifested itself as a light smoky flavour in the Margarita cocktail. In fact more than one of my judges asked me later if I had slipped a lightly smoky mescal into the challenge. I had not of course, but the observations were astute as the Dulce Vida certainly carries a light mescal-like character into the cocktail experience.
In the Throat 13/15
The Dulce Vida blanco finishes with a swat of white pepper and citrus zest which combine to heat both the throat and the palate. Fortunately, the exit also contains a lingering presence of cooling menthol with embedded hints of sugar cane sweetness. Everything I taste bodes very well for mixing great bar drinks.
The Afterburn 9/10
Dulce Vida Organic Tequila is a wonderful blanco spirit for those who love to revel in ritual of bracing agave heat and spice (tequila shots); yet it will also appeal to those who also love to explore the subtle intricacies and flavour nuances of a traditional highland sipping tequila. The spice and the pepper may hit you firmly; but the subtle flavour nuances within, as well as the mild almost butterscotch-like sweetness and the lingering menthol coolness all seem to counterbalance the spicy heat and bring the spirit to a new level of enjoyment.
You may read some of my other Tequila Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
The spirit also excels as a cocktail mixer as the Margarita recipe below will attest.
The Margarita is probably the quintessential Tequila cocktail, and it is one of the most popular cocktails in North America. Although this bar drink is typically made with lime juice, it is certainly acceptable to add a bit of lemon as well. The results are certainly delicious when mixing with the Dulce Vida Blanco.
Lexi’s Cocktail (a Margarita with Lemon and Lime)
1 1/2 oz Dulce Vida Organic Tequila (blanco)
3/4 oz Grand Marnier
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz sugar syrup (optional)
lime slice for garnish
Chill a cocktail glass and if desired rim the outside with coarse salt
Place the Tequila, Lemon and Lime, Grand Marnier, and Sugar Syrup into a metal shaker
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into the chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with Lime
Note: If you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
You may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing Tequila. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, (we are probably still cocktail in territory).
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing delicious cocktails!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)