There's a new tequila in town, and it's going to set you back a lot more than a bottle of Cuervo. At $250, Casa Dragones is pricier than any of the artisan tequilas that you'll find at Wine Expo, our favorite north of the Border shop to score sipping-worthy tequilas.
Like Casa Dragones, all of the Wine Expo sippers are made from 100% agave, not blends like many mass-marketed brands. Sure, it comes in a hand-etched crystal bottle, but we're not planning on displaying the Casa Dragones on our mantle -- we want to know if it's really worth the $20 a sip. So Squid Ink asked Erik Moreno, Wine Expo's tequila expert, to join us for a tasting.
The Casa Dragones is a joven, a "young" tequila aged up to 2 months, blended with a splash of 5-year extra añejo (aged 3+ years). According to Moreno, blending an añejo with such a light tequila is unusual due to the high price of most longer-aged tequilas.
"You definitely pick up a richness and a lot of character on the nose," he says, swirling the glass several times before taking a sip. "Then you get that heat and spiciness of a joven, but this is almost rounder, with more body and some smokiness from the añejo."
Though you're more likely to see jovens in your margarita due to their light flavor, Moreno says that's not always the case. "A good joven is one of my favorite styles [for sipping]."
He splashes a little tequila on his hands and rub his palms together vigorously. "If you rub the tequila between your palms, you can find out if they are using caramel coloring -- if you have any caramel color it would make your hands sticky," he says, noting that tequilas with color additives are typically oros ("gold" tequilas) but can be any style. He declares the Casa Dragones caramel color-free.
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Moreno's verdict? He liked the flavor profile -- nutty, with a hint of pear - but felt the aromatics were a bit too subtle. "I want a little more fresh agave flavor in a joven," he said, noting that this wasn't a straight joven. It was almost as if the tequila couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a young, perky joven or a mellow, complex extra añejo. A "wow" was all Moreno could muster when we told him the price tag was $250 (he promptly pulled down two of his favorite artisan sippers from 4 Copas for less than one-third the price).
As we show him the bottle for the first time, he smiles. The sparkling crystal decanter is nestled in an elegant blue box complete with poetic musings about co-founder an tequilero Bertha Gonzalez (among the few women who holds the tequila equivalent of a master sommelier title). "Looks like they are trying to sell it to a different consumer than the typical tequila drinker."