We reviewed the blanco version of this quizzical tequila earlier this week and found it to be a solid (if a little overpriced) spirit. The only issues in the blanco version boiled down, in my opinion, to a lack of flavor and variety. These are usually things that a little time in an oak barrel can help solve, which is why I’m hopeful this reposado version will truly nail it.
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 reposado version of their tequila, the resulting spirits are placed into oak barrels for a period of nine months before being proofed down and bottled for sale.
As I stated in the blanco review, I do like the idea here. The bottle shape is an upside down question mark, which is how written questions are usually preceded in the Spanish language. The concept for the name and subsequent bottle shape apparently comes from the founder’s journey of self discovery that led to his fateful meeting with his future business partner in Mexico. All in all, this is a solid backstory for the branding and bottle, which I always appreciate.
I did have some issues with the bottle itself, though. While the bottle shape is fun and unique, it is 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.
I did, at least, have a better experience with their cork this time around. When I went to open the blanco version, the cork snapped right in half and I needed to bust out a wine key to get the cork out. I like that they tried to make a higher quality and more enjoyable wood and cork stoppers, but natural cork unfortunately sometimes has some imperfections. At least the cork on this reposado bottle worked as planned, but I was definitely a bit wary going into this.
I picked up on some vanilla notes in the blanco tequila, which seemed out of place given what we know about how they make it. The reposado, though, is somewhere you do expect those notes to appear — and they are showing up in spades.
On the aroma, all I’m getting are barrel aged aromas. The vanilla is big and bright here, with some caramel and baking spices thrown in for good measure. It smells almost like a Werther’s Original, but in the background there’s hints of black pepper spice and herbal grassy notes that remind you it’s a tequila and not a bourbon. Those herbal and peppery notes only become more prominent as the spirit sits in the glass and has some time to air.
Taking a sip, the first thing I get is a spicy caramel flavor. It’s almost as if you added some cinnamon to a bit of caramel, or a watered down cajeta even. Those spicy notes continue in intensity and take over the flavor profile, with black pepper spice hitting in the crescendo and more vanilla as things quiet down on the other side of the intensity peak. On the finish, I’m getting more of that spicy black pepper texture and some vanilla drifting into the background.
The flavors are more subdued with the added ice — more of a chill creme brulee flavor than the hectic and spicy notes we saw before. There’s plenty of vanilla and a bit of agave sweetness in the glass and while there is a bit of black pepper, it seems significantly tones down compared to how we saw it before.
I don’t think I would have recommended this as a sipping tequila neat, but it holds up pretty well on the rocks. It’s just flavorful enough to be interesting without being overpowering.
The blanco version was missing the herbaceousness of the tequila when mixed into a margarita, and I think that trend sadly continues here. With that key element missing, this is already a slight deviation from the norm.
That’s not to say that this isn’t a good cocktail — I think a lot of the sweeter notes from the vanilla and caramel have made their mark and toned down the sour lime juice, making for a much more balanced cocktail overall. Definitely sippable, and something I’d enjoy on a sunny and warm day. It just happens to be missing that touch of herbal flavor that is the cherry on top for a good, traditional margarita.
This is a definite improvement over the blanco version, without question (pun intended). There are some excellent flavors that are well executed, and the end result is something that works well not only on its own but also in some classic cocktails.
But this still isn’t quite hitting on all cylinders, in my opinion. For a tequila, I’m looking for that herbal and grassy component to pop through and be noticed in cocktails — otherwise, I could have just grabbed a bourbon. And while those flavors show up initially when taken neat, they don’t seem saturated enough to stick around on ice or in cocktails.
I feel like that’s the result of the more modern production methods; specifically, the use of the autoclave instead of more traditional cooking methods. It might be quicker, but it saps out some of those more natural flavors and makes for a more mediocre spirit. And when I’m paying over $50 a bottle, I really don’t want a mediocre spirit.
|Cuestion Reposado Tequila|
Produced By: CuestionProduction Location: Jalisco, Mexico
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $52.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 2/5
A cool bottle that contains a fine reposado with tons of barrel aging notes, but very little herbal agave.