Dulce Vida Extra Añejo
Review: Dulce Vida Organic Tequila (Extra Añejo) 97/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on August 15, 2015
Dulce Vida Tequila is produced from 100% organic agave grown in the Los Altos highlands which are situated in the Tequila Region of Mexico. The company produces the only 100° proof, 100% organic tequila (also free from additives of any kind) in the world. As well as being 100% organic, their tequila 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 Extra Añejo is a celebratory spirit which has been matured for just over five years in single oak barrels from the Napa Valley. The Limited Edition spirit commemorates Dulce Vida’s five-year anniversary. This is the first Extra Anejo Tequila spirit which I have reviewed, and my review shall begin as it always does with a look at the bottle.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
The spirit arrives in a tall slender bottle shown to the left. More and more of the Tequila spirits I have been reviewing lately seem to be arriving in some form of this tall slender (whisky-style) bottle. These bottles have good eye, appeal however they do have the drawback of being rather difficult to place upon my tequila shelf which is constructed for the more typical short and squat tequila bottle. The ‘slender tallness’ of this style of 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 (which is actually etched into the glass) 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). The good certainly outweighs the bad, although a shorter squat bottle would have garnered a perfect score.
In the Glass 10/10
The spirit displays as a very nice amber liquid in the glass. The colour is from the five years the spirit has spent aging in wine barriques from the Napa Valley. I suspect that at least some of those barriques held red wine as the soft amber colour I see seems to have a hint of a reddish hue, and in the breezes there seems to be that tell-tale hint of red licorice in the air.
When I bring the glass to my nose to inspect the breezes more thoroughly, it is hard for me (at first) to discern that this is a full 100 proof tequila spirit. The initial aromas are soft and are much perhaps more reminiscent of a 10-year-old scotch like Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, than they are of Tequila. This is I suppose not surprising as Glenmorangie pioneered the practice of finishing their spirits in exotic wine casks, and the scotch industry was much quicker to embrace alternative oak barrels than were the other players in the spirits industry. Dulce Vida Extra Añejo is in fact the very first tequila I have encountered which has aged a wine barrique.
And the result is stupendous. When I first sampled the Extra Añejo, I found myself spending a solid ten minutes just enjoying the aroma which drifted upwards from my glass. Along with that hint of red licorice were notes of dry fruit (dates and raisins), spicy oak and luscious milk chocolate. Given time, the agave did present itself, but it was a soft agave with smells of pumpkin pie and black pepper impregnating its presence. I thoroughly enjoyed nosing my tequila glass and for the first time, I am giving an agave based spirit a 10 out of 10 score for its wonderful olfactory presence.
In the Mouth 58/60
I suspect I could put this spirit into a tasting beside a nice bourbon, a great Canadian Whisky, a well aged Single Malt, and a fine Cognac or Brandy, and based only upon the nose and a small sip, none of my guests would be able to tell me what class of spirit the Dulce Vida Extra Anejo was. The flavours which come forward in that first sip represent a melding of all of the above (accepting of course that all of the above would be the best examples of their class). The Dulce Vida spirit features light winding of oak and chocolate flavours playfully dancing with dry fruit and red licorice.
Now if all of those guests at my hypothetical tasting were told to put just a little larger sip into their mouth, and to then chew on the spirit, their eyes would open wide with delight and they would all recognize the wonderful peppery agave flavour that filled their palate. At that point the agave nature of the spirit would be revealed. This peppery agave nature compliments the aforementioned suave winding oak and chocolate flavours perfectly.
Simply put, this is wonderful!
In the Throat 14.5/15
The exit is soft and sweet with flavours of chocolate and caramel which are complimented by just a touch of red licorice. As we sip the agave spiciness builds leaving the palate just a little more heated each time leaving me with yummy lingering impressions of spiced chocolate caramel.
The Afterburn 10/10
The Dulce Vida Extra Anejo is a sipping delight. I have found a Tequila spirit that rivals the best rums and whiskies which I have tasted.
You may read some of my other Tequila Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
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)