The 2013 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Tequila
In my locale, 2013 was a rather slow year for the agave spirit we call Tequila. Although this Mexican spirit has seen steady growth in the world-wide marketplace, I have to admit that in Alberta there seems to have been a bit of a retrenchment during the past year where consumers returned to their old favourites rather than experimented with the new brands which appeared on the liquor store shelves. This is quite understandable given that Western Canada is not by any stretch of the imagination a Tequila hotbed, and many of these new brands arrive without promotion leaving the consumer befuddled and unable to make any sort of reasoned choice.
While many whisky events populate our calendars, as well as a few Rum Clubs which have popped up which feature tastings and the like, consumers (in my locale) have very little ability to read about or taste any of the new Tequila brands. Perhaps my 2013 Rum Howler Awards for the Year in Tequila can help remedy the situation somewhat. (And hopefully I will be able to sample more of these new brands and feature more reviews in the coming year.)
Having said all of that, I was able to sample and taste 17 different agave spirits for my 2013 Rum Howler Awards. The Awards I am presenting are based upon side by side tastings of the various spirits which are in competition for each particular award. It is a process which takes a little time to work through which means I begin my tastings early in September and do not finish until the end of September. It is my policy that all spirit samples which I receive in a given year (and if I have saved enough from the previous year as well) are automatically considered for my awards. I do my review, and then I set aside the remainder of the spirit for the end of the year judging. I also received additional industry samples specifically for my Rum Howler Awards.
Depending upon the style of Tequila I was sampling, I build one or two Cocktails with each brand to taste, and I also sampled each spirit neat side by side with those of the same style. And so without further ado, it is time for me to reveal the recipients of the 2013 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Tequila. These Awards are for the best Tequila Spirits I encountered in the year 2013.
The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Blanco Tequila
and the winner is:
Runner-up Award to: Herencia de Plata (Blanco)
Honourable Mention: Cruz Del Sol (Silver)
To choose the winner of this category I made one of my Tequila cocktails, The Lonely Silver Rain, and of course, the classic Margarita. I balanced the performance of the tequila in these cocktails against the flavour when sipped neat at room temperature.
It was no surprise to me that Avion Silver Tequila won the day. This is a superb blanco, with a lightly hot white pepper flavour leading out which is chased down by a light honey-like sweetness. No slouches either are the Herencia de Plata, and the Cruz Del Sol (Silver) which earned Runner-up and Honourable Mention Awards respectively.
The 2012 Rum Howler Award for Best Reposado Tequila
and the winner is:
Runner-up Award to: Cruz del Sol Tequila (Reposado)
Honorable Mention: Don Julio Reposado
For the Reposado category, I again decided again to make two cocktails upon which 50 % of the weight. As well I placed 50 % of the weight upon the cocktails and 50 % of the weight upon how the spirit tasted when served neat at room temperature. In case you are interested, the two cocktails I chose were the same as last year, the first being A Deadly Shade of Gold and the second, the Royal Alexander Margarita.
Corzo and Cruz del Sol were the class of the competition this year. The each displayed a light complexity of flavour which was very appealing when served neat, and they each carried some of this complexity into the cocktails I constructed. (Don Julio won the Honourable Mention Award).
The 2012 Rum Howler Award for Best Anejo Tequila
and the winner is:
Runner-up Award to: Patrón Añejo Tequila
For the Añejo category, I judged each spirit by sipping them neat and then constructing an elegant sipping cocktail I call, Maximiliano. Only three Añejo spirits were considered, and in the end I awarded only two. The winner, Don Julio Añejo is a true sipping spirit which brings a suave taste experience to the Añejo Tequila category. As you let the spirit breathe, it becomes more complex in the glass seemingly bringing more to the fore with each sip. The Patron Añejo is a worthy Runner-up, perhaps not quite a smooth as the Don Julio but a classic Highland Añejo nonetheless.
(Although I sampled other Añejo spirits, I did not award an Honourable Mention in the Añejo category this year.)
The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Tequila
and the winner is:
Runner-up Award to: Corzo Reposado Tequila
Honourable Mention: Don Julio Añejo Tequila
This year I decided after all of my tastings to select the Tequila which I felt best represented its class of spirit. Although it is difficult to judge spirits across different categories, I nonetheless decided that this could be accomplished by making my enjoyment of the spirit the primary focus of the analysis.
In the end I decided that a blanco spirit, the Avion Silver Tequila deserved the top prize. The Corzo Reposado, and the Don Julio Anejo were both strong candidates as well.
The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Blanco Tequila: Avion Silver Tequila
The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Reposado Tequila: Corzo Reposado Tequila
The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Anejo Tequila: Don Julio Añejo Tequila
The 2013 Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Tequila: Avion Silver Tequila
The 2013 Rum Howler Runner-up Award for Best Blanco Tequila: Herencia de Plata (Blanco)
The 2013 Rum Howler Runner-up Award for Best Reposado Tequila: Cruz del Sol Tequila (Reposado)
The 2013 Rum Howler Runner-up Award for Best Anejo Tequila: Patrón Añejo Tequila
The 2013 Rum Howler Runner-up Award for Best Overall Tequila: Corzo Reposado Tequila
The Honourable Mentions:
The 2013 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Award for Best Blanco Tequila: Cruz Del Sol (Silver)
The 2013 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Awards for Best Reposado Tequila: Don Julio Reposado
The 2013 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Awards for Best Overall Tequila: Patrón Añejo Tequila