Espolon Blanco Tequila
Review: Espolon Blanco Tequila (87.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted May 18, 2016
Espolon is a tequila brand created by Master Distiller Cirilo Oropeza. This is a premium tequila made in a small batch process from ‘hand-selected 100% Blue Weber agave, grown in the rich red clay and cool climate of the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. At that facility piñas of the hand selected agave are cooked for 18 to 20 hours prior to their fermentation. They apparently use a slower distillation technique than is in use at most other facilities, and when the spirit is finished, their Espolon Blanco tequila is rested, filtered and then bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.
The Espolon website tells us that the company likes to play rock music at their facilities to ‘inspire’ the agave. I did a little follow-up research and found a question and answer session with Cirilo Oropeza on the Campari America (the brand owner) website (see here) where the Espolon Master Distiller admits he actually prefers to play classical music instead. This is because (according to Oropeza when referring to classical music), “it’s not so fast, not so crazy, it’s gentler for the yeast.”
Although the Espolon 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 144o. 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 Destiladora San Nicolas S.A DE C.V who incidentally also produce heavy metal musician Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Tequila. (I suspect that we now can decipher why at least sometimes the ‘music’ that is played in the Distiladora San Nicholas is rock music rather than classical.)
In the Bottle 4/5
The bottle presentation for the Espolon Blanco is shown to the left. According to the Espolon Website, the label is “inspired by the work of a 19th century Mexican artist” and is said to “showcase some pretty revolutionary stuff”. I did a bit or research and found that the artist they are referring to is most probably Printmaker and Draughtsman, José Guadalupe Posada whose political prints and drawings often satirized then President Porfirio Díaz while at the same time celebrated the popular revolutionaries, Emiliano Zapata and Francisco Madero.
As you can see Posada’s work used whimsical skeletal motifs to carry his political message. This style of drawing struck a chord with the Mexican populace and has remained a popular art form to this day. Personally, I am not a fan of skeletal imagery associated with liquor. However, even I have to admit that a skeletal revolutionary riding a rooster with other skeleton persons flying all over the place, is much more humourous and light-hearted than it is macabre.
(Incidentally the name Espolon refers to the spur of the gallo (rooster) which serves as the revolutionary inspiration for the name of the tequila.)
I was going to award a perfect score for presentation until I opened the bottle. Unfortunately, as I did so, the topper sealing my bottle came apart. The wooden top was not sufficiently affixed to the synthetic cork (see photo below right). I hate toppers that break apart and I deducted a full point for the lack of attention to detail.
In the Glass 8.5/10
The blanco tequila is clear in the glass, and when I give my glencairn a slow tilt and twirl, I see the oily sheen left on the inside of the glass is thickened slightly. Many small droplets form at the crest and they lengthen into slender legs which amble down the inside of the glass.
The initial aroma is of a very typical highland tequila. My nose is greeted by a mild, but firm agave scent which rises into the air. This punky agave gives me impressions of both baked squash and lightly sweet grilled zucchini impregnated with a very light mint-like scent. The earthy agave is soon joined by a building spiciness of citrus zest and spicy white pepper. Taking my time with the glass, I also seem to notice some notes of vanilla in the breezes which perhaps hints an underlying softness which may become apparent upon tasting.
In the Mouth (52.5/60)
Taking a sip of the Tequila, I notice the somewhat oily consistency I noted in the glass has given the spirit a buttery feel in the mouth. Punky agave and hot spice lead out as flavours of grilled green peppers, baked zucchini strips and bits of pineapple are hinted at. The citrus zest and white pepper build as a little ‘highland squeal’ of hot spice greets the palate with each sip. Fortunately, bits of menthol provide some cool relief. I also taste hints of something floral (perhaps it is that menthol tricking me) and a light winding of vanilla. Overall, sipping is quite enjoyable, although I have a stronger urge to turn my attention to cocktails.
I began with my Alfred Cointreau Margarita, and the results were very good. The agave character of the tequila pushed right through the cocktail, and I was very happy with the results. I decided to go a little ways out into left field and mixed something completely different, a Tequila Punch (see recipe below), and again the libation was quite tasty. The Espolon Blanco is a tequila well suited to both sipping and mixing.
In the Throat 13/15
The exit is peppery. It would be disingenuous to call it smooth; but the light whack on my tonsils was not without its charm either. I believe we could add tequila shots to the repertoire of servings I could recommend for the Espolon Blanco.
The Afterburn 9/10
Espolon Blanco tequila is really nice. Its flavour begins with a firm push of earthy agave, and as you take a swallow the tequila transitions to citrus zest and peppery spice. The spirit can be sipped pleasurably, enjoyed in a shot, or mixed into your favourite tequila cocktail.
You may read some of my other Tequila Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
When we think of punch recipes, we think first of rum punch or perhaps gin punch. However, there is no reason Tequila cannot form the base of a nice summertime punch recipe. This recipe mixes citrus juice and berry flavours and with the Espolon Blanco Tequila, tastes delicious.
(Note: Espolon Blanco works well in Margaritas and Palomas as well.)
2 oz Espolon Blanco Tequila
1 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Ocean Spray Cranberry Cocktail
1/2 oz Raspberry Syrup
Build in a large Tumbler with Ice
Stir to Mix
Garnish with Frozen Raspberries
If you are interested in more of my original 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)