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Hornitos Plata Tequila

Review: Hornitos Plata Tequila  81.5/100
a Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Original Posting Aug 09, 2011
(Revised and Re-scored May 05, 2015)

Hornitos Plata Tequila is a 100 % Agave Tequila produced by the Sauza Tequila Import Company. The Plata Tequila is said to be the creation of Don Francisco Havier Sauza (Don Franco), who is a third generation member of the Sauza family which founded the La Preseverancia, distillery. Incidentally, Don Franco is credited with helping the Mexican Government to establish the Jalisco region of Mexico as the exclusive origin of genuine tequila in 1974.

According to the Hornitos Tequila website, their Plata is constructed to be a pure expression of the natural agave flavour of Tequila, and is made with no aging or contact with wood at all. The spirit is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

Note: I identified the NOM on the back label of the bottle as 1102. 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 verify the distillery of origin. In this case it is TEQUILA SAUZA which is of course the distillery which produces all Sauza tequila brands.

In the Bottle 4/5

When I did my review of Hornitos Reposado Tequila, I likened the shape of the bottle to the image of an ancient horned altar. I was making the point that the marketing gurus who selected the bottle shape may have been playing a subliminal game with their consumers. Horned altars were common in ancient Mesopotamian culture and played an important role in fertility rites (which were believed to increase virility and sexual prowess). The advertising which I originally saw on television also seemed to be playing with similar themes where the Plata Tequila is featured in humorous commercial as a Tequila with purer intentions than its consumer. The sexual implications in the television commercial were obvious to me, and it is quite safe to say that sexual innuendo is part of the overall presentation of the spirit to the North American public.

I have no quibbles with the marketing plan. I think that both the television marketing and the bottle presentation are witty and serve to catch a person’s attention. I do however wish that the Hornitos bottle would be sealed with a nice cork rather than the flimsy metal cap.

In the Glass 8.5/10

I poured out a small sample of the Hornitos Plata into my glass and began with a good look at the tequila spirit before I began to nose it. It is a clear spirit, and I could detect no hint of colour. This is consistent with a blanco spirit which has had no contact with wood. I gave my glass a light tilt and a slow swirl and discovered a light sheen of tequila was left on the inside of the glass which slowly disappeared but gave up no legs. Again this is consistent with my expectations, and I am happy with my observations.

When I brought the glass to my nose, I discovered a moderately punky/earthy agave aroma with a mild white pepper scent rising from the glass. There is a light vegetal earthiness in the aroma and some very light hints of citrus (I am thinking lime and lime zest).

In the Mouth 49/60

The entry into the mouth is spicy with more heated citrus zest than I noticed on the nose. In addition to citrus zest, the spicy flavour also carries black pepper, a touch of cloves and perhaps a little ginger across the palate as well. A vegetal earthiness of the Agave fruit lies under the spices accenting them with its punky agave taste which sort of resembles broiled zucchini and pumpkin; however, the earthy flavours take a backseat to the peppery heat which becomes even spicier as you sip some more.

As with the aroma, I am finding the taste clean and crisp. The Hornitos Plata is perhaps a spicier than my own personal preference would lean; but I can certainly understand another Tequila aficionado appreciating this spiciness more than I.

When my tasting group, the Rum Chums sampled the agave spirit as part of our deliberations for the 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge, our perceptions during the blind tasting were very consistent. (For this competition, I designed a standard cocktail (see recipe here).) What we discovered was that Hornitos Plata pushes its heat into the cocktail experience to some degree, and in fact, the spice it carries can dominate the mixed drink. However, if an allowance for that heat is made and we add a splash of soda to the cocktail, the resulting Margarita cocktail (shown below) is much nicer.

In the Throat 12/15

We have a very traditional finish as the Hornitos Plata Tequila has a spicy exit filled with white pepper. The earthy agave is apparent as well, but the spiciness of the finish is definitely much more apparent than the earthiness. Although the exit was spicy, I did not notice any undo burn. The tequila will knock your tonsils for a loop, but it will not char your esophagus.

An interesting aspect of the finish is the lasting impression of dryness (or it may be more correct to say the lack of sweetness).

The Afterburn 8/10

The centerpiece of the Hornitos Plata’s flavour is the heated agave with all of its spiciness on display. In fact, the Plata is perhaps just a bit too spicy for me to enjoy sipping neat. However, when mixed with a forethought to accommodate the spiciness, I am found the tequila quite satisfactory.

You may read some of my other Tequila Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe

The Margarita Cocktail (A Traditional Recipe)

1 1/2 oz Hornitos Plata Tequila
3/4 oz Triple Sec
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1 tsp simple syrup (optional)
Splash of soda
lime slice for garnish

Chill a cocktail glass and rim the outside with coarse salt
Place the tequila, lime, Triple Sec, and simple syrup into a metal shaker
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into the chilled cocktail glass
Add a splash of soda
Garnish with Lime


I am also going to suggest a recipe of my construction called The Green Ripper which is part of my ongoing series of Tequila cocktails which are named after the Travis McGee novels of American author John D. MacDonald. I have always like the Travis McGee novels, and the titles of these novels just seem to me to be particularly well suited to be also the names of great tequila cocktails.

The Green Ripper

1 1/2 oz Hornitos Plata Tequila
3/4 oz Bols Blue Curacao
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
Orange and Mango Soda (Koala Brand)

Place the tequila, the Blue Curacao, and the fresh juice into a metal shaker
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into the chilled wine glass
Add Orange and Mango Soda slowly stirring until the desired shade of green is achieved
Garnish with Lime if desired

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: 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)

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