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Hornitos Plata Tequila

Review: Hornitos Plata Tequila  82.5/100
a Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on Aug 09, 2011

Hornitos Plata 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.

According to the company website, the 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 bottle I am reviewing (pictured below) is a 750ml bottle, and it is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

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 recent advertising I have seen on television seems 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 implications in the commercial are obvious, and sexual innuendo seems to part of the overall presentation of the spirit to the North American public. I have no quibbles with the marketing people. I think that both the marketing presentation and the bottle presentation are witty and serve to catch a person’s attention. I just wish that when we open our bottles of Hornitos Plata Tequila, we could ‘pop’ our corks instead of unscrewing our metal caps.

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 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). I like how clean the aroma is. Maybe I am falling a little for the hype on the website, but my feeling is that I am about to experience an unusually pure tequila spirit.

In the Mouth 50/60

The entry into the mouth is spicy with more of that citrus than I noticed on the nose. The spicy taste is kind of like black pepper but with a touch of cloves and ginger thrown in. The vegetal earthiness of the Agave fruit lies under the spices accenting them with that punky agave taste but in some ways the earthiness takes a backseat to the pepper which becomes even spicier as you sip some more. I detect a hint of almond flavour and perhaps a touch of coriander as well. Like the aroma, I am finding the taste clean and crisp. It is perhaps a tad spicier than my own person preference would lean; but I can certainly understand a well indoctrinated Tequila aficionado really liking what they taste.

As part of the review I mixed a Margarita. However rather than my usual  Royal Alexander Margarita which uses Louis Alexandre Grand Marnier, I mixed a more traditional Margarita (see recipe below) with triple sec instead. The resulting cocktail was very nice. It was tart and zesty and just lightly sweet the way a good Margarita ought to be.

In the Throat 12/15

We have a very traditional finish as the 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 impression of dryness (or it may be more correct to say the lack of sweetness) I taste. I suspect this lack of sweetness is responsible for how good I found the Plata worked in the Margarita which I mixed. This is definitely a good cocktail tequila.

The Afterburn 8/10

I have previously reviewed the Hornitos Reposado and found it to be a powerful, spicy, and earthy tequila which in some ways overwhelmed me. When I began my review of the Hornitos Plata, I was a little worried that I would have the same experience. But I found that the Plata was quite different. The centerpiece of the flavour is the agave with all of its spiciness and earthiness, but this tequila is clean and crisp in flavour, and far more approachable than I was expecting. The tequila is still just a bit too spicy for me to enjoy sipping neat on a regular basis; but as a cocktail tequila I am finding Hornitos Plata hard to beat.

I should mention that Sauza Tequila is now part of  Beam Global Spirits, and it was the Beam Global Team here in Alberta who made a sample of Hornitos Plata available to me such that I could provide this review.

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


Suggested Recipe

I mentioned earlier in the review that a traditional Margarita is a great cocktail with the Hornitos Plata. Here is the 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 (optional)
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 if desired
Garnish with Lime

I am also going to suggest a new recipe of mine called The Green Ripper. This cocktail continues my series of Tequila cocktails 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


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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