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Agave 99 Anejo Tequila

Review: Agave 99 Anejo Tequila  78/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on June 17, 2012

Agave 99 Tequila is a lowland tequila produced by Fabrica de Tequilas Finos, S.A. De C.V.. The distinction between agave grown in the lowlands instead of the highlands is important because lowland agave tends to carry more earthy and vegetal flavours into the final distilled product than agave grown in the highlands. These lowland characteristics should be even more assertive than usual given the high bottling proof (99 proof) of the spirit. (Incidentally the 99 proof bottling strength is the reason the spirit is called Agave 99).

The Agave 99 Anejo Tequila has been aged for a minimum of two years in American White Oak and as indicated above, is bottled at 49.5 % alcohol by volume. As part of the media package I was given for this spirit when I received my sample (from Select Wines & Spirits) were two copies of official looking certificates. These indicated that the Agave 99 Tequila is considered legally ‘organic’ by both the European Union and the USDA. It was also indicated to me that the tequila is kosher and is therefore suitable for both Cinco de Mayo and for Passover.

In the Bottle 4/5

To the left is a nice J-peg picture of the Agave 99 Anejo Tequila. The bottle looks fine and has a nice synthetic cork closure which will give me that nice “pop” when I open it. However, the labeling upon the bottle is a little disappointing. It is rather plain with an uninteresting logo and colours which blend in rather than stand out. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the label looks ‘amateurish’ rather than professional. When I saw my first bottle on the shelf at a local liquor store, I was not inspired to believe this would be a premium Tequila.

In the Glass  9/10

As I stated above, Agave 99 Anejo Tequila is produced from agave grown in the lowlands of Jalisco. Lowland agave tends to carry more earthy flavours into the Tequila than agave grown in the highlands. This difference in character is noticeable in the glass as the aroma from the Tequila is indeed quite earthy with that underlying punky agave scent reminiscent of baked garden squash.

There is a light oak scent which resembles sandalwood, and enticing wisps of butterscotch and caramel rising into the air. Hints of cardamom and ginger are scattered within the breezes and perhaps a few orange pekoe tea leaves as well. Within all of this is a very subtle citrus spiciness which seems beautifully melded into the aroma.

In the Mouth  46/60

As the Anejo tequila entered my mouth I noticed two very different flavour sensations which seemed at odds with each other. The first was a strong butterscotch sweetness which seemed out-of-place in an anejo tequila, and the second sensation was the sharp taste of white pepper which gave this spirit real bite. Both sensations were, let me say, ‘uncomfortable’ for me. The first because this amount of sweetness really was not welcome, as it did not fit easily into my perceptions of the taste profile for anejo tequila. The second because the peppery bite seemed to have the sharpness I associate with alcohol burn rather than with spiciness. Now, this is 49.5 % alcohol by volume product, and so I expected intensity, in both the flavour and the bite; but I am finding it hard to reconcile these two taste sensations in what is supposed to be a smooth aged agave spirit.

On the positive side, the spirit does have a very soft texture in the mouth. I taste a lovely ribbon of fruity/earthy agave, some mild oaky notes, as well as an undercurrent of herbal tea; but for me, these pleasing aspects of the spirit are somewhat buried under the initially strong sweetness of butterscotch and the unbridled heat of white pepper and alcohol.

When I added a cube of ice to my glass, the bite was tempered, but the sweetness seemed unabated. I am, to be honest, disappointed that the promise of complexity and balance on the nose was not realized in the mouth.

In the Throat  11.5/15

The Agave 99 Anejo exits with a fair amount of burn in the throat that is not tempered by the addition of water, nor ice. The soft oily texture of the tequila coats the palate and the throat leaving a lingering aftertaste of herbaceous spiciness which is good, but it also leaves distressing impressions of cane syrup and too much caramel.

The Afterburn  7.5/10

The sampling sessions I had with this spirit did not go as well as planned. The spirit has too much bite, and too much sweetness for me to find the enjoyment I had hoped for in an Anejo Tequila Spirit. I wonder about that sweetness and where it could be coming from. I also note that the bite of this spirit reminds me as much of alcohol burn as it does of peppery spice. I guess I am not a fan of this interpretation of Anejo tequila.

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

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Suggested Recipe

In keeping with my recent tradition of naming my new tequila cocktails after the 21 novels in the Travis McGee series by American author John D. MacDonald.  I have named this cocktail after the eighth book in the series, One Fearful Yellow Eye. As you know, I have always liked the Travis McGee novels, and I believe that most of the titles for these novels make great names for cocktails.

One Fearful Yellow Eye

1 oz Agave 99 Anejo Tequila
1/2 oz Galliano
1/2 oz Cointreau
Orange and Pineapple Juice
ice
Squeeze of Lime

In a metal Shaker filled with ice add the Tequila, the Galliano and the Cointreau
Add equal parts of Orange and Pineapple juice (about 3 oz total)
Shake until the sides of the metal shaker frosts.
Strain into a tall highball glass
Garnish with a squeeze of lime

Enjoy!

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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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