You’ve probably heard of the standard kinds of tequila: blanco, anejo, even reposado. But then there are the unique offerings (like the newer “cristalino” that some folks are experimenting with). Under that category of off-the-beaten-path styles of tequila, file this bottle of “rosa” tequila. I’d personally never heard of this before and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to give it a taste.
According to the company story, a no-label clandestine tequila has been produced in Mexico for a number of years, primarily intended for distillers and their farm hands. Sometime around 2008 or 2009, country music star George Strait started visiting the area and came across a bottle of this prized tequila and instantly fell in love. Together with his business partners Federico “Fede” Vaughan and Ron Snyder, they formed the Codigo 1530 company in 2017 to start producing and bottling this specific strain of spirits.
The name and brand logo come from the 1530 establishment of the city of Amatitán, when Jalisco was given its coat of arms bearing the Jerusalem Cross from Spain.
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The blanco version of their tequila is reportedly the same recipe that George Strait fell in love with years ago, and this is a little twist on the concept that they themselves invented.
As with most tequilas, this spirit starts from a crop of 100% lowlands agave plants. The plants are grown and matured for about seven years before they are harvested, their leaves shaved off, and the cores are shipped to the distillery for processing.
Once at the distillery, the agave cores are cooked in modern ovens to convert the starchy fibers into sugary liquid. After a period of time, those cores are removed from the oven and shredded with automated machinery to release the sugary liquid within. That liquid is then combined with local spring water and fermented before being distilled in a copper still to produce the raw spirit.
What makes this “rosa” different is that instead of shipping the raw untouched spirit out the door like other blanco tequilas, this version is rested in barrels that once held Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon red wine. Technically, that still counts as a “blanco” (as they can rest it for up to two months), but it’s still a unique choice. While it interacts with the tequila for a one month period, the red wine casks add a rosy color to the liquid as well as some added flavors and aromas. The liquid is removed from the barrels, proofed down, and shipped for sale.
The shape of this bottle is fairly common, but everything else about it is pretty unique. Rather than a plain clear glass, there are air bubbles suspended inside the walls of the glass. It evokes an older age when glass production wasn’t as automated as it is today, and also serves to give the bottle a nice texture.
Also imprinted in the wall of the bottle is the Jerusalem cross, the company logo.
Especially for this rose-colored version of their tequila, I appreciate that they didn’t go too overboard with the labeling. There’s a very small label on the front and the back of the bottle that bears the information about the brand and the legally required items, but those labels are small and out of the way. The rose color of the tequila is the selling point, and something unique that people will want to look at and buy. They rightly let that be the focus of their bottle rather than some distracting artwork.
At first glance, this seems like any other blanco tequila — with the obvious exception of the color. The aroma is pretty much the same as you get in their traditional blanco: a good mixture of herbal agave flavor, some lemon zest, and black pepper. Deep in the background, though, there’s a tiny hint that something is different thanks to just a little wisp of blackberry and dark fruit appearing in the mix.
What you will immediately notice in this version is the vanilla note that is evident as soon as you take a sip. It’s very similar to what you get from Casamigos and similar takes on a blanco tequila, but there’s more of a bite from the lemon zest following it up that gives a clean impression for the flavor profile. There’s still a tiny hint of bitterness present thanks to that lemon note, but the herbal agave sweetness on the finish steps in to help it make a soft landing on your palate.
Just like we saw with their standard blanco edition, the added ice tones down the lemon zest and better incorporates it into the other flavors for a more coherent profile. It also does the same for the vanilla flavor, which is still a large part of the profile but not anywhere near as overpowering. It’s a good mixture of the flavors at this point — it still manages to taste crisp, clean, and herbal with some added smoothness and deliciousness from the vanilla.
Something to note on the finish is that the dark fruit from the wine barrels seems to be having more of an impact. I’m picking up some blackcurrant and raspberries combined with a little bit of tart tannin flavor that you’d usually see on a young wine. It adds this fruity deliciousness that, while light in force, is definitely noticeable and enjoyable.
I’m a big fan of this margarita. It hits all of the key points I’m looking for, and even adds a little hint of something more.
What I really like about aged tequila in a margarita is that smooth and delicious vanilla flavor that really helps to balance out the sour lime juice and make the cocktail more well balanced. It’s what I get in Casamigos, what I get in most any anejo, and exactly what I’m getting here as well. But in this case, the lighter age on the spirit allows for that herbaceousness to shine through a little more clearly, which is a huge benefit to the cocktail and keeps it tasting fresh.
Added to that standard lightly aged blanco flavor profile is just a tiny hint of dark fruit, specifically blackcurrant and cherry, which adds a slight shade of depth to the cocktail and helps improve the balance even further. It isn’t overpowering or even very evident unless you’re looking for it — but for those who really try and dissect the flavors, you’ll find it in there.
I’m usually a purist when it comes to tequila manufacturing processes, but this is one instance where I feel like the added time in the wine barrels really did help the spirit and improve the flavor profile. Not only did it give this tequila a little time to better incorporate the flavors it already had, but it added some vanilla flavor to the mix that improved things considerably.
I like what they did here, but I want them to go further. Thankfully, they also have a reposado and an anejo version of this tequila that does exactly that and I can’t wait to give it a try.
|Codigo 1530 Rosa Blanco Tequila
Produced By: Codigo 1530Production Location: Mexico
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $65 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 4/5
A bit of rest in a wine barrel elevated this solid blanco tequila by adding some great vanilla and black fruit flavors.