After years and years of shuddering, I'm starting to develop a mad fondness for tequila.
I think I'm not alone in having misunderstood what might rightly be called Mexican champagne — or bourbon, for that matter. (here's an explanation of why).
It's a complicated landscape: there's highland and lowland agave, and then at least three grades: blanco, reposado, and añejo. My taste — and more signicantly, my curiosity — was wetted by a typically-delightful Esquire article evangelizing tequila recently. (Which is what Esquire does best, by the way — a frequently-captivating magazine, to which I am a proud subscriber for years)
Good tequila, it turns out, is a sipping beverage. Who knew? I think that's part of the problem, the whole tequila shots, lime, salt, etc. thing — it's an undeniable mythos, and it would be interesting to research where it came from. (Some of that mentality, not unlike other boozes, turns out to be designed to soften the bite of lower-quality stuff)
The top-shelf stuff — which ain't cheap — is something else entirely. You like bourbon? Good bourbon? You could like tequila. It's as simple as that.
I'm still looking for the right balance of price and delight. The Esquire article provides some very helpful insight into the nature of the beverage, and some places to start.
So far, I strongly like Jose Cuervo Tradicional reposado and I love Herradura añejo. I've followed my nearly-drained bottle of the latter with some Milagro añejo, but I'm less than thrilled with that. Tequilas are so different from one another it turns out!
I'm still resistant to crossing the $50 mark — and reaching for the Gran Centenario or more likely this Chinaco bottle — but it's probably only a matter of time; I've found that sitting at night in the quiet autumnal Campsie backyard, under the stars, with about 3 oz. of quality tequila? Almost pricelessly peaceful.