When I think of tequila, I think of the distinctive aroma that I have come to associate with it. Anyone who's taken a shot of tequila or had one too many margaritas can identify with me, I'm sure: the pungent aroma impales the senses, its heady strength rushing to the head as the liquid fire burns down the throat.
Don Julio 70, the brand new añejo claro launched in honor of the 70-year anniversary of Tequila Don Julio, is a new kind of animal. To appreciate the difference between Don Julio 70, Don Julio Añejo, and Don Julio Blanco, I was invited to a tasting dinner where I had the opportunity to taste them side by side.
We looked at the clarity of Don Julio 70 in the light, seeing a very clear, translucent liquid. Next we looked at the Don Julio Añejo, an amber-colored liquid, picking up the more woody aromas which are the by-product of barrel aging. There was minimal difference between color of the Don Julio 70 and the Don Julio Blanco, and that's the beauty of this new 70th-anniversary tequila.
Dubbed the "world's first añejo claro," Don Julio 70 gets its unique properties from a post-barrel-aging filtration process that filters out the brown color of the añejo while maintaining its flavor notes. On the nose, I smelled warm notes of honey, a much softer, more pleasing smell than that of the Blanco, which smelled the most like what I think tequila should smell like. "You get the smoothness of the blanco, the agave notes of the blanco, with hints of añejo and the sweetness of the añejo ," explained Don Julio's Brand Ambassador, who was on hand to guide us through the tastings.
We also had the chance to try Tequila Don Julio cocktails that night, accompanied by a tequila pairing dinner created by Chef Robert Del Grande of RDG + Bar Annie. Hors d'oevres of avocado tostaditas with jalapeno chile were served with salt-rimmed glasses of RDG Don Julio Silver Margarita. A banana leaf wrapped barbecue redfish garnished with pickled onion and chipotle chile sauce was paired with a Don Julio Reposado "Pink Paloma" grapefruit cocktail. And my favorite cocktail of the night, an apple-flavored "Newtonian" made of Don Julio Añejo, was paired with a brochette of Texas quail, applewood bacon and onions over smoked cheddar grits.
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We ended the night with a special Don Julio 1942 Reserve Tequila, paired with a chocolate cake with coconut chocolate mousse. And though I found the 1942 Reserve strong and robust as a tequila, I couldn't help but be impressed with the Don Julio 70. It was, without a doubt, one of the smoothest, best tasting, and yes, aromatic, tequilas I've ever had, something I could see myself enjoying by itself, or on the rocks.
Since Don Julio 70 just launched, if you want to order it in a restaurant, it's currently only available at RDG + Bar Annie and TQLA. With the holidays coming up, however, this is a great gift for a tequila lover, and you can find it at retail liquor stores such as Colony Liquors, International Spirits, Christy's Liquors, Rick's Wine & Liquor, and Spec's. The suggested retail is $70 per bottle, but a quick check at Spec's Online shows that it's selling for $60.73, just $8 more than the añejo, and $15 more than the blanco.