When I mentioned that I wanted to start testing some tequila, my wife immediately demanded that we get a bottle of Casamigos. Why? Because she heard it was delicious? Or that it had a unique production process? Nope. Because it’s George Clooney’s tequila. (Clearly, marketing ploys work on her.)
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.
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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. For the blanco version, the newly made tequila spends two months in American oak barrels before it is packaged and shipped out the door, which is a significant amount of time for a blanco tequila (for reference, 1800 Silver rests in oak barrels for only 15 days).
For the bottle itself, this is the most boring and unimaginative design I think I’ve seen yet. It’s literally just a bottle. As in, someone took a beer bottle and over-inflated it a little bit. Which I suppose makes sense here, 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… so if this was a conscious decision to lean into the origins of the brand, then I might actually applaud the choice.
As for the label… well, that’s also decidedly on the sparse side but I don’t hate it as much. It’s a white label with black 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 three amigos who commissioned this tequila wanted something smoother than the usual offerings, and that seems to start with the aroma coming off the glass. The liquid itself is crystal clear and looks just like it was pulled straight out of a mountain spring, but the aromas are sweet and delicious. There’s the usual lemon citrus combined with a touch of some vegetal notes like fresh cut grass.
But there’s something else in here as well — specifically, a bit of vanilla that isn’t typical of un-aged spirits. That seems to be thanks to the two months that this tequila spent in the oak barrels before it was packaged, which isn’t very common among blanco tequila. The cheaper option is simply to slam the newly made spirit directly into a bottle and pass it out the door, which is the more cost effective and preferred method. This little bit of extra care and attention adds a whole new layer to the already delicious tequila.
As for the flavor, those notes from the aroma make for a really appealing experience. There’s a touch of melon and sweetness on the front, followed by a bit of lemon citrus, and finishing with that same smooth vanilla flavor that we had in the aroma. After awhile, there’s some black pepper spice that makes an appearance as well — a little delayed from the usual blanco tequila timeline.
It’s smooth, it’s delicious, and it absolutely is a great sipping tequila all on its own.
Usually with a whiskey, ice is the enemy. The only things that survive are typically the results of the aging process. In this case, though, while there are some changes, more of the original spirit flavor remains than you’d expect.
Of the aroma, the only thing that remains is the vanilla. But the flavors have held out against the ice a little better, specifically that lemon citrus note that remains before the vanilla kicks in. The vegetal aspects are almost completely gone, though, now just adding maybe just a hint of flavor to the experience.
The mark of a good tequila is that it can still be seen influencing the flavors in this cocktail. There’s a ton of competing and strong flavors in a typical margarita mixer, so if the spirit can still be seen through all that and make a positive contribution then it’s a solid win.
In this case, the flavor that stands out the most to me is the vanilla once again. It’s adding a whole new level of complexity to this cocktail, with a little bit of warmth and sweetness. That extra care of barrel-aging even the blanco tequila is truly paying off here.
Normally, with a celebrity tie-in spirit like this I’m about as suspicious of it as I am of a used-car dealer. These tend to be shameless cash grabs, where otherwise poor to mediocre product is heavily promoted by someone with a recognizable name to try and get it to sell. (See: Proper No. Twelve.) But in this case, it’s actually pretty good. My wife may never let me forget that this was one example of celebrity marketing that actually performed well. The flavors are solid and interesting, the branding isn’t as terrible as Dan Ackroyd’s hilariously ostentatious crystal skull abomination, and it’s priced reasonably for what it is.
I feel like this tequila works thanks to the fact that it started with the goal of being delicious for three specific people, not with the goal of it being a commercial success. And, ironically, that’s what made it a commercial success.
|Casamigos Blanco Tequila|
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $42.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 4/5
This amigo is welcome in my casa.