In our last review, we tried the blanco version of the Caralegre tequila and found it to be a bit of a bitter pill to swallow. But, generally speaking, bitterness is something that a bit of time in an oak barrel should be capable of fixing… in theory. I was willing to bet the price of a bottle of their anejo to find out (so our readers don’t have to).
This specific brand seems to have been invented for retailer Total Wine, which is a pretty common pattern for big retailers of their kind. It appeared on the shelves in 2022 without so much as a backstory or a website.
The spirits in these bottles are produced by Envasadora De Productos Lideres, a legitimate distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, who does all of the production and bottling. Spirits are then imported into the United States by Saranty Imports, which is based in White Plains, New York.
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There’s almost zero information on this bottle besides the legally required information about the type of spirit and production location. But that little bit of information still gives us enough to start to make some educated guesses.
As a tequila, we know this starts with blue agave plants which are grown in Mexico for about eight years prior to harvesting. The leaves of the agave plant are shaved off leaving behind the hard center core, which is then processed to create the sugary liquid. Exactly how that agave core is processed is not disclosed, which probably means that the more industrial and expeditious method of using a pressure cooker, a mechanical shredder, and some acid is used to convert the starchy fibers into the sugary liquid.
Since this is a 100% agave tequila, we know that there was no additional sugar added and all of the sugar comes directly from these agave cores.
That sugary liquid is then added to water and allowed to ferment, which creates a mildly alcoholic liquid. From there the liquid is distilled to concentrate and selectively capture the desired alcohol.
For this anejo version of this tequila, the resulting spirit is aged for a minimum of one year in oak barrels before being bottled.
There’s not a lot going on with this labeling and bottle design, but what is there seems to be trying to ape the design of Casamigos.
The bottle is a boring and typical shape, sporting a rounded body that flares from the base to the shoulder, which rounds nicely to a medium length neck. There’s a bit of a bulge in that neck to allow for easier pouring, and the whole thing is capped off with a wood and cork stopper.
Where we really get close to the Casamigos design is in the label. It has the same minimalist concept, with the bare minimum information in a typewriter font listed on the front, and a red lot number printed on the label. This is all pretty much exactly how that more famous spirit does their thing, with the big difference being that the labels each have a different overall shape (Casamigos’ looks like a small sticker, but this thing takes up most of the front of the bottle). That shape difference is probably enough to keep them out of court, but I see exactly what they were trying to do here.
On first sniff, this definitely seems like an anejo tequila. I’m smelling a good bit of vanilla, some caramel, brown sugar, and baking spices all supported by some herbal agave aromas coming off the golden colored liquid.
Taking a sip, I was pleasantly surprised that the bitterness I saw originally in the blanco version of this spirit seems to have been resolved. Brown sugar, vanilla, and baking spices are the first things I get, followed by some black pepper spice, and finally on the finish you get a glimpse at that herbal grassy agave note that is a hallmark of a tequila. The bitterness is nowhere to be found.
The flavors here aren’t knocking me out of my seat with their saturation, but they also aren’t wallflowers either. There’s a good level to them that makes this sippable as-is, but I’m worried they will leave something to be desired in the cocktails.
With the added ice here, I think the flavor profile is actually what the blanco version was trying to achieve.
Most of the barrel aging components dropped out of the running once the ice cubes were added, leaving behind only the strongest and clearest components. In this case, that’s a grassy and herbal agave first, followed by some black pepper spice, and then a bit of vanilla with a hint of brown sugar on the finish. As the finish continues, there might even be a hint of baking spices that come back and makes an encore appearance.
As expected, the saturation with the added ice isn’t exactly optimal, and the missing barrel aging flavors aren’t great. It’s basically a good reposado at this point, as it’s not really putting those barrel aging components to good use.
Unfortunately, I think the bitterness from the base spirit is finally peeking through, and it’s not to the benefit of this spirit.
In terms of the flavors, this is a better balanced cocktail than usual. The brown sugar sweetness and the herbal agave do a great job complementing the lime and orange aspects, and makes for a fairly well balanced cocktail. The only thing bringing it down is that same bitter characteristic from the blanco version, seen here creeping in on the finish. This is something different, beyond the usual bitterness of the lime juice, that leaves a sour note on your palate at the end.
This is a perfectly acceptable anejo tequila. Sipped on its own, there are no faults with the character of the spirit, no ill effects in the taste, and the flavor profile is on point. But that said… there isn’t anything to recommend it beyond the level of mediocrity either.
Compared to other offerings in this same price range, it doesn’t achieve even a fraction of the flavors and characteristics of what else is out there.
If you told me this was a $20 anejo, I’d be happy. I think that price point works. I’d put it in the same ballpark as Hornitos and compare the two favorably. But at this higher price point, I expect a lot more in terms of flavor… or at least even a hint of a backstory.
|Caralegre Anejo Tequila
Produced By: CaralegreProduction Location: Jalisco, Mexico
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $44.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 1/5
An anejo tequila that tries to price itself with the big boys, but gets easily outperformed.