It’s not often that I can use the phrase “question mark of a bottle” literally. Typically, this would describe a bottle that I’ve never heard of before, or a spirit that is a complete unknown. It wasn’t until I found this particular bottle that the form actually followed the function: I had never heard of Cuestion Tequila, and the intriguing bottle made this an easy purchase decision for me.
In 2009, American businessman Jason Fandrich was in Mexico pondering the meaning of life when he met up with Mexican tequila maker and distiller Jose de Jesus Dominguez Figueroa at a tequila tasting event. The two bonded and became friends and business partners, eventually opening Cuestión Spirits in Nashville, Tennessee to brand and import Figueroa’s tequila into the United States.
The business began importing tequila in 2019, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and remains a privately owned operation to this day.
- Learn More: What Is Tequila?
This tequila starts with a crop of 100% blue weber agave plants, grown in the highland region of Jalisco, Mexico. The plants are grown for about seven years before they are large enough to be harvested and brought to the distiller (NOM 1479) for processing and distillation.
At the distillery, the agave cores are split in half and placed in an industrial autoclave for about 10 hours as the extreme heat and pressure forces the agave fibers to convert into fermentable sugars. This is a more modern take on the process (compared to the traditional clay pits or brick ovens), but it produces a higher yield in terms of fermentable sugar in a much quicker period of time.
Once the cores have been cooked, they are crushed with a more traditional style of roller mill which extracts the fermentable sugary juices from the agave cores. That sugary liquid is added to water and allowed to ferment for 96 hours, converting the sugar into a mildly alcoholic liquid. From there, the liquid is distilled twice in large batches in their copper pot stills to concentrate the alcohol and remove any unwanted elements.
For this blanco version, the distilled spirits are proofed down with water and then directly bottled and shipped for sale.
This bottle is a land of contrasts.
On the one hand, I really like the idea here. In the Spanish language, sentences that are questions are typically preceded by an upside down question mark… which is how this bottle is shaped. The concept apparently comes from founder Jason Fandrich’s Mexican journey of self discovery that led to his fateful meeting with his future business partner, which is a nice way to tie in the backstory and the product itself.
While the bottle is shaped in an interesting and fun way, it does make the bottle a bit hard to hold. The rounded sides don’t offer much space to put your hand on the neck, and it was difficult to support the whole thing from the base.
Which brings us to the quality control issues.
When I went to open this bottle, the cork snapped right in half. I like that they tried to make a higher quality and more enjoyable wood and cork stopper for the top of this thing — but natural cork sometimes has some imperfections, unfortunately, and it seems like this specific cork suffered from that kind of a defect. There was just a really big hole in the cork right where it met the top of the stopper and under a bit of pressure it immediately failed.
I want to give this bottle some points for creativity, but unfortunately I can’t give full credit to a bottle that won’t actually let me sample the contents without breaking out a wine key.
This smells like a spicier version of a blanco tequila, so heavy on the black pepper notes that it almost completely drowns out the herbal cut grass components you get from the agave. It isn’t out of balance though — just on the spicier end of the standard spectrum.
Sipping this tequila is remarkably smooth… like, suspiciously smooth. Usually, there’s at least some tartness or alcohol bite with an unaged spirit like a blanco, but in this case the experience is just pleasant and flavorful. Immediately up front there’s a bit of an herbal flavor like fresh cut grass, which is followed by that black pepper flavor we saw from the aroma.
Mixed in is some sweetness from that agave nectar, and as the flavor develops it seems like there’s a bit of vanilla that creeps into the flavor profile. Which, again, is strange for an unaged spirit since that’s usually a flavor you get from some contact with oak barrels… or artificially added.
Either way, the combination is actually really good. It tastes delicious, like a lighter oaked version of Casamigos.
You’d don’t often see blanco tequila on the rocks, but tasting a spirit on ice is a good indication for how this spirit works in cocktails and other preparations. If the flavors can stand up to the ice, then they can stand up to almost anything.
In this case, most of the flavors are stripped away. There’s little to no vanilla left and almost no herbaceousness unless you really go looking for it. What you are left with is the black pepper spice (the strongest of the flavors), which is honestly one of the more useful elements when making a cocktail. It’s disappointing that the other flavors dropped out, but the black pepper should help add a nice kick to whatever we make next.
Usually with a margarita, it’s a sour cocktail that incorporates some of the herbaceous notes from the tequila to make a somewhat floral drink. But there are no herbal qualities here. Instead, what we have is something almost closer to a tiki drink: heavy on the fruit and the sourness without much else going on.
I will say that I am getting that black pepper flavor coming through, and it does add some depth and texture to the cocktail. This isn’t just a big glass of sour with nothing interesting going on, but the interesting parts aren’t what I expected.
I think if there were a bit more of the vanilla, or a bit more of the herbal notes, this would have been great. But unfortunately neither element showed up in the glass today.
This is a brand of tequila that seems to be betting hard on its unique bottle style to get noticed and placed into shopper’s carts. And I can’t blame it — this bottle looks interesting and is certainly a conversation starter. Heck, the bottle is pretty much the reason why I picked it up myself. The problem is that the bottle seems to be placing some large bets that it just can’t cash — specifically, with the potentially quality control of their corks and the difficulty holding the bottle.
As for the contents, I had no major complaints. I think the more modern processing techniques stripped away some of the herbal notes that we’d otherwise expect from a tequila, but the fundamentals are there. I do have a question (pun absolutely intended) about the vanilla flavor I experienced, as that’s usually a good indicator that either there was a bit of cheeky aging that they didn’t disclose or some unfortunate additives that made their way into the spirit.
If this were something I could pick up for under $30, I think we’d have a different discussion on our hands. But at the price they are asking, there’s no way that this truly competes. It’s a fine tequila, just not worth the cash they want.
|Cuestion Blanco Tequila
Produced By: CuestionProduction Location: Jalisco, Mexico
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $53.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 2/5
A well executed blanco tequila (although without the typical herbal notes) in a bottle that looks cool but fails the practicality test.