I’m a pretty big fan of the blanco edition of the Casamigos tequila. And, being a whiskey fan, I also like things that are barrel aged. So the anejo edition of Casamigo’s tequila (essentially, barrel aged blanco tequila) sounded like heaven to me. Naturally, I needed to grab a bottle and find out for myself.
Back in the early 2010s, famous actor George Clooney and his nightlife entrepreneur buddy Rande Gerber were building vacation homes next to each other in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. (As one does when they are incredibly wealthy.) The pair had been sampling local tequila trying to find the perfect one to stock their homes and, after working their way through the available offerings and finding none to their taste, they decided to simply make their own. (Again, as one does when they are incredibly wealthy.) Their goal was to create a tequila that tasted great and didn’t burn going down, minimized any hangover, and could be taken straight or over ice.
Clooney and Gerber partnered with property developer Mike Meldman to commission a local distillery to make their dream tequila, ordering a reported thousand bottles of tequila per year. After hearing the size of the order, the distillery asked the trio to get a business license to facilitate the transaction and so they formed the Casamigos tequila company (Casamigos being a combination of “casa” and “amigos” for a rough translation of “house of friends”) in 2013.
The company was never intended to produce a single bottle of tequila for commercial sale, only being a mechanism for the trio to stock their own personal liquor cabinets. However, it didn’t take long for word of this special tequila to get out and they started selling to the public in 2014 with Clooney and Gerber still taste testing and acting as quality control for every single batch of tequila. Sales went through the roof, doubling every year, and in 2017 the British spirits giant Diageo purchased the brand for a cool $700 million with an additional $300 million to come based on performance. Since then, the brand has become one of the fastest growing tequila brands in the world.
Here in the United States the tequila is imported by the Casamigos Spirits Company based in White Plains, New York.
This specific tequila is produced on contract for Casamigos by the Productos Finos de Agave distillery in Mexico.
As with all tequila, this spirit starts with 100% blue agave plants that have been grown for about 10 to 12 years in the cool highlands area of Mexico. The plants are harvested, their leaves are shaved off, and the heart of the plant is then cooked for three days in a traditional brick oven to release the sugars. From there, the steamed plants are left to ferment in large vats for 80 hours — about twice as long as normal. This allows some of the slower acting (but better tasting) yeast strains to have a larger impact on the flavor of the spirit, compared to the faster acting but less flavorful versions that typically finish their job in about two days.
Once the fermentation converts the sugar into alcohol, it is distilled at least twice to concentrate and purify the spirit. Then, for this anejo version, the newly made tequila spends fourteen months in American oak barrels before it is packaged and shipped out the door.
As I said in the review for the blanco version, this is the most boring and unimaginative bottle design I may have ever seen. It looks like someone took a beer bottle and over-inflated it a little bit. To be fair, I suppose makes sense given the history of the brand — this was never intended to be a brand of tequila offered for sale, only for private consumption. So spending a ton of time on a fancy bottle didn’t make sense. With Diageo now behind the wheel, though, you’d think that they would have done something more fancy, though… so its possible this was a conscious decision to lean into the origins of the brand.
As for the label… well, that’s also very much on the sparse side, but I don’t hate it as much. It’s a black label with white lettering, with the details looking like they were printed on the label with a typewriter. Again, this seems to be consistent with that whole “private production” theme they have going on. The only splash of color on the bottle is the blue-green agave plant for the logo in the center of the label, and the red bottle number.
Something I do want to note is that, while there are about three items that look handwritten on the label (including George Clooney’s signature), it actually appears that everything is printed.
The liquid is a beautiful gold color, just a hair darker than usual.
Coming off the glass, the first impression I get is those Werther’s Originals candies — butterscotch, caramel, and vanilla all rolled into one. That might be the most prominent component but digging a little deeper, the herbal component — that “fresh cut grass” note — is still there… its just far in the background. And somewhere further behind that might be a tiny hint of lemon citrus.
It smells much more like a lightly aged whiskey than it does a tequila.
Those aromas transfer into the flavor as well. There’s a charred oak component here that I don’t think I’ve seen before from a tequila, like a combination of Nilla wafers with slightly burned marshmallows. Just enough of a char to make it interesting without being overpowering, and with a sweetness and a smoothness that make for a delicious sip. That flavor develops a more distinct caramel tone as time progresses, finishing with a good hit of black pepper spice.
The one thing that this is missing from the flavors is the herbal notes and the lemon citrus. I get the black pepper spice that you associate with a tequila, but the lighter aspects have been aged out of the mixture. Not necessarily a bad thing, just something to note if you bought this thinking it’ll just be the same flavor profile as a standard tequila.
The biggest flavor components here are the aspects you’re getting from the charred oak barrels. Typically in a whiskey, when you drop a couple ice cubes in your glass, you’d expect those flavors to be toned down a couple notches. That’s the case here as well, but I think it’s a good thing.
With the added ice, you can actually taste the herbal “fresh cut grass” and the lemon citrus notes coming out to play. It’s like the barrel aging process covered them up a bit too much, but didn’t eliminate them. So, once the ice is in the glass, those flavors get reduced a bit and the end result is something much closer to a standard tequila flavor profile… but with some amazing caramel and vanilla notes to make it unique.
There’s some truly great stuff going on here.
What I especially like is that the warmer tones from the vanilla and the caramel in the barrel aged flavors are balancing out the drink. A margarita tends to be a very citrus forward and bright drink, but these flavors in the spirit are bending it much closer to a whiskey sour.
That said, the traditional margarita notes are still there as well. From the herbal aspects to that citrus pop, it may be slightly more toned down but it is still present. And it makes for a delicious experience.
As I’ve said before, I really want to hate celebrity tie in spirits — and 90% of the time, I’m right in assuming that they are complete garbage. But in this case, what we have is a spirit that tastes great and has a lot of unique notes working well together… and then it also happens to be promoted by a celebrity.
I really like the fact that those barrel aging notes are coming through so clearly and sweetly here. I was concerned when I started tasting tequila that the raw alcohol would always be the biggest contributor to the flavor, but in this case the aging process actually has more impact on the finished product… just like with a good whiskey.
|Casamigos Anejo Tequila|
Produced By: CasamigosOwned By: Diageo
Production Location: Jalisco, Mexico
Classification: Anejo Tequila
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $46.99 / 750 ml
Overall Rating: 5/5
This is the perfect way to get a whiskey drinker to love tequila.