Sometimes aging tequila for a few years in an oak barrel doesn’t always produce a spirit that’s worth the time it took to age and the price tag people will pay for it. The matured spirit can take on too much of the qualities of the barrel it’s been aged in, losing some of the agave soul that makes it tequila.
But other times, all that extra aging time results in a complex balance of rich woody tannins and agave sweetness — and that’s what two tequila producers based in Austin, Z Tequila and Dulce Vida Organic Tequila, are betting on with the recent releases of limited edition extra añejo tequila.
Z Tequila has just gotten Zevada Family Gran Reserva, a tequila that’s spent four years in oak barrels, onto store shelves right in time for the holidays. With only 500 cases out there, it won’t be around for long, unlike the Z Tequila Blanco, Reposado and Añejo that have originated from Jalisco, Mexico, and are now sold all over Texas.
The Gran Reserva was created with the help of Z Tequila’s founder, Jose “Pepe” Zevada, who wanted to release a tequila that would round out the brand’s portfolio in a distinctive way.
“There is a big difference between a nice bottle of tequila and tequila in a nice bottle,” he said in a press release.
Dulce Vida’s Extra Añejo Tequila was released last month to commemorate Dulce Vida’s five years in the marketplace, and it’s already been getting raves from spirit enthusiasts who like that despite aging five years in Napa Valley wine barrels, the tequila isn’t overpowered with wood and vanilla notes. Previously in these barrels were Merlot and Cabernet wines, which helped imbue the extra añejo with a cognac nose, a strong tequila body and a port wine finish.
All of Dulce Vida’s tequila varieties — in addition to a blanco, reposado and añejo, there are also a few special releases, including the añejo aged in Garrison Brother’s Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey barrels — were made with 100 percent blue agave from the Los Altos Highlands of Jalisco and subsequently distilled and aged in San Ignacio Cerro Gordo, Mexico.
To be labeled as extra añejo, the tequila must have been aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels, a distinction that was made in 2006.