Hornitos Reposado Tequila
Review: Hornitos Reposado Tequila 79/100
a Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on July 12, 2011
Hornitos Reposado Tequila is a 100 % Agave Tequila produced by the Sauza Tequila Import Company located in Tequila, a municipality of the state of Jalisco, Mexico. The Tequila is the creation of Don Francisco Havier Sauza (Don Franco), a third generation member of the Sauza family who founded the La Preseverancia, distillery. 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. Hornitos was reported to be Don Franco’s favourite tequila. Unlike other spirits which proudly boast of a maturation period in small oak barrels to ensure heavy contact between the spirit and the oak, Don Franco’s Hornitos spirit is different. The Hornitos Reposado is aged in large 10,000 gallon oak ‘pipones’ to ensure limited contact with the wood during maturation such that the agave flavour remains as pure as is possible in a reposado spirit.
And this concept of minimal wood contact may have some merit. I have spoken with many Tequila aficionados who insist that aging Tequila in oak damages the spirit rather than enhances it. These Tequila connoisseurs are looking for that pure agave expression which Hornitos Reposado promises. Sauza is now part of Beam Global Spirits, and it was the Beam Global Team here in Alberta who made a sample of Hornitos Reposado available to me such that I could provide this review.
In the Bottle: 4/5
I am a bit of an archeology buff, and so I am familiar to some extent with ‘Horned Altars’ and their place in ancient Mesopotamian society. And maybe I am stretching things a bit, but I see a resemblance between the Hornitos bottle pictured below and the shape of the horned altar pictured to the left. (Maybe my imagination is working overtime here.) These horned altars were used by many of the ancient Mesopotamian cultures as platforms to burn perfumes and incense as part of their fertility rites. The horns represent bull’s horns, and the bull was seen as a sign of sexual prowess and fertility. I wonder to myself if the marketing gurus are making some sort of subliminal suggestion here with the bottle presentation. The name of the Tequila, ‘Hornitos’ is certainly suggestive, in English anyways.
Of course when I ran the word ‘hornitos’ through a Spanish to English online translator, I discovered that ‘hornitos’ is a spanish word for ‘ovens’ and instead refers to the clay ovens that bake the agave piñas prior to fermentation in the production of the Hornitos Tequila. So maybe I’m on the wrong track with all those thoughts of horned altars and subliminal messages about sexual prowess.
But then again, those marketing guys and gals are cagey…
And… those were my first impressions, as I looked at my fresh unopened bottle of Hornitos Reposado (see photo below) for the first time.
In the Glass 8/10
The initial nose is full of spicy herbal agave fruit. It is a powerful, earthy smell that pours out of the glass growing deeper and stronger as you allow the tequila to breathe. White pepper scents and tart green apples reach the breezes along with grilled pineapple and lemons to round out the nose which is robust and anything but laid back. The scents and aromas from my glass interest me, but I sense a strong warning in those breezes. This is going to be intense.
In the Mouth 47/60
That powerful fruity agave that poured out of the nose jumps out of the glass onto the palate, and it is quickly followed by a rush of peppery spice. This is a full mouth of agave fruit and white pepper that is unrelentingly strong and spicy. As I sip on the glass I receive vague impressions of grilled pineapples in the midst of the onslaught of the agave and perhaps a little spicy coriander accompanies the white pepper. However if I am more honest with myself I realize that the pure unrelenting strength of the herbaceous agave and spicy pepper make any other tasting notes more a result of fantasy than reality.
As part of my tasting regimen I mixed a Royal Alexander Margarita to test the performance of the Hornitos Reposado in a cocktail. The assertiveness of the tequila pushed through the Grand Marnier and the lime, and the resulting cocktail had a very strong peppery agave flavour. For the well indoctrinated tequila enthusiast this assertiveness on the part of the Hornitos will probably be very welcome, but I found myself struggling to finish a cocktail which I normally enjoy.
I did construct a nice cocktail which had a larger accent on fruit juices (see the recipe below) that was quite enjoyable; so my conclusion with respect to the Hornitos Reposado is that it is important to experiment and find a style of cocktail for the Hornitos Reposado which suits your particular palate.
In the Throat 12/15
With the full fruity agave flavour and the hot spicy mouth feel, I was expecting this Tequila to grab my tonsils and never let go. But instead, the smoothness of the spirit in my throat was remarkable. Not that this tequila is easy in the finish, the Hornitos Reposado does bring oodles of peppery spice to the back of the palate, that spice just doesn’t translate into burn in the throat. (I guess I felt this was important to note because the hot spiciness I am feeling in my mouth and throat is part of the spicy flavour of the Tequila not a sharpness of alcohol burn. There are taste receptors at the back of the throat but not further down in the throat. If I was experiencing an alcohol burn I would be feeling it in my esophagus as well.)
In spite of the smoothness in the throat, the heat left behind on the palate does make the spirit seem harsh on the exit and it is not easy to sip.
The Afterburn 8/10
Hornitos Reposado Tequila will not suit every palate. It is a full flavoured, spicy tequila that wishes to bring to the aficionado all of the spice and flavour which the agave plant can deliver in the distilled form. It will be too much fruity agave and hot pepper for some; but if you are a high-spirited tequila lover, then the Hornitos Reposado may just be right up your alley.
You may read some of my other Tequila Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
This cocktail I affectionately call, Nightmare in Pink.
Nightmare in Pink
1 1/2 oz Hornitos Reposado Tequila
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
3/4 oz Cranberry Juice
1/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine
(Splash of soda Optional)
Frozen Blueberries for Garnish
Add all the first six ingredients with ice into a metal shaker
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with frozen blueberries
Note: Nightmare in Pink is the second of 21 novels in the Travis McGee series by American author John D. MacDonald. I have always liked the Travis McGee novels, and I have always believed that most of the titles for these novels would make great names for cocktails.
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)