Herradura tequila features some notable branding and packaging, with an instantly recognizable downward-facing-horseshoe label. Now… there’s an old superstition that says a horseshoe is good luck, but only if the ends of the shoe are facing up to “catch the luck” inside. Hopefully that isn’t a bad omen for this bottle of Herradura tequila.
Tequila production on what would become the Herradura distillery started in the early 19th century, started by a man named Feliciano Romo. In 1870, Félix López took over the property and registered it as a legal distillery named Hacienda San José del Refugio. The distillery remained in the family even after Félix’s death in 1878, operated first by his wife and later by her brother Aurelio López.
It was Aurelio who would give the distillery its lasting name of Herradura, named after a horseshoe that he found on the property sometime around 1900. When the Cristero War broke out in Mexico in 1926 (a conflict where secular factions within Mexico sought to eliminate the power of the Catholic church and impose an atheist state), Aurelio provided financial and material support to the Catholics. In response, the distillery was raided and he was forced with his family into exile while leaving his cousin Don David in charge of the facility. It was Don David who resisted following the 1920’s trend of producing inferior “mixto” tequila, demanding that Herradura always remain 100% blue agave based.
The old distillery was shut down in the 1960’s and replaced with a newer modern facility, but the old buildings were maintained as a museum. In the 1970’s, the company introduced their first aged expressions, expanding beyond blanco tequila for the first time.
The company remained family owned and increasingly successful, capturing 30% of the tequila market by the early 2000’s. In 2007, the family decided to sell the company to the American spirits giant Brown-Forman (of Jack Daniel’s fame) for over $700 million. Brown-Forman have since expanded distribution and production of the tequila, but the spirit is still produced at the same facility where it has been since the 1800’s. Brown-Forman also produces the top selling tequila in the country of Mexico, El Jimador.
As with all Herradura tequila, this starts as a crop of blue agave plants which are harvested and have their leaves removed. What’s left is the tough and fibrous core of the plant, which is cooked in an oven to convert those fibers into sugar. The plants are then crushed to release the fluid, and that fluid is fermented to convert the sugar into alcohol. From there, it is distilled three times to create the new blanco tequila.
For their anejo versions, that newly made tequila is placed into American white oak barrels for a period of at least 25 months, which is well beyond the one year mark that you usually see for an anejo expression.
This bottle actually bears a passing resemblance to the style used for Jack Daniels’ bottles. (Which, considering Herradura is owned by the same parent company, makes perfect sense.)
The bottle is roughly rectangular in shape, with flat sides and round but pronounced corners. There is some embellishment in the glass that mimics crown molding, which is unique and different. The bottle, just like with Jack, tapers quickly at the shoulder. From there, it sports a very short neck and is capped off by a plastic cap.
I really do like the label here. Not only is it in the shape of a horseshoe (paying homage to the namesake of the distillery), but it’s an efficient label design that simultaneously maximizes both the visibility of the branding and the visibility of the spirits. The brand name is large and in charge here, embossed on a metallic sticker, but the its shape results in plenty of negative space to see the spirits inside. The metallic is a nice touch, by the way, as it encourages people to touch the bottle (and, statistically speaking, increasing the likelihood of purchase).
This spirit is a nice golden hay color in the glass, almost the same color as a Highland scotch whisky. And it actually has some of the same notes: there’s the vanilla aroma you’d expect from the barrel aging process alongside a bit of butterscotch; there’s also a zesty citrus note that comes through, almost like you’re halfway to a sidecar cocktail. In the background is some of that herbal aroma you usually associate with a tequila, but it isn’t nearly as pronounced as you’d usually expect.
The flavors here are a bit interesting, and not in a good way. I think the profile is a bit off balance. There’s a heavy dose of black pepper spice that dominates the flavor profile as soon as the liquid hits your lips, followed a while later by some of the vanilla and caramel from the aroma. There really isn’t much of an herbal note in here, which is especially unfortunate for a tequila. As the flavor finishes, that black pepper spice turns bitter and leaves a lingering bitterness long after you’re done sipping.
There’s some good news and some bad news here.
The good news is that the bitterness is very much reduced with the addition of some ice. The cold and the dilution do a good job handling that unpleasant aspect, as it should.
But that comes at a price — namely, the aging characteristics from the flavor profile. Gone are the vanilla and the caramel, as well as every other aging-related flavor. All that remains is just a teeny tiny bit of the herbal flavors that you’d normally associate with a tequila, such as fresh cut grass.
I really don’t get much of the flavor of the spirit in this cocktail, to be honest.
A margarita is a surprisingly hard challenge for a tequila; the more subtle flavors of the spirit have to compete against the bold flavors of the lime juice and the Cointreau. But in most cases, there’s something — some element of the flavor profile — that fights its way through and makes itself known.
Sadly, though, that is not the case here. All of the notes of the spirit have completely disappeared and I just don’t get anything here beyond the mixers.
Spirits typically get better with age, mellowing out and becoming more delicious versions of their previous selves. But in this case, age has only made this tequila bitter and more expensive. It isn’t knocking my socks off, and at this price I’d expect a better experience.
|Herradura Anejo Tequila|
Produced By: HerraduraOwned By: Brown-Forman Corp.
Production Location: Jalisco, Mexico
Classification: Anejo Tequila
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $44.99 / 750 ml
Overall Rating: 1/5
A tequila that makes a bad margarita? You had one job.