The Tequila Masters 2014 resultsBy Melita Kiely
An array of contenders were praised for their quality and diversity as they competed for prestigious medals at The Tequila Masters 2014.
For decades Tequila has been misconstrued as nothing more than a spirit to shoot between a sprinkle of salt and a slice of lime. But thanks to the efforts of premium 100% agave brands, the notion of Mexico’s native spirit is slowly, but surely, being redefined.
In the last few years Tequila has enjoyed a growth in global popularity outside the US and Mexico, and while the category still has a fair way to go, former sceptics of the Mexican spirit are beginning to realise how much more it has to offer.
The Tequila Masters 2014 saw a broad spectrum of Tequilas entered for judging, many of which were 100% agave with a handful of mixtos thrown in. From reposado to extra añejo and premium to superpremium, the judges were unanimously impressed with the diversity and progression that was evident across all categories.
But overall it was the añejo entrants that stole the show, scooping 10 medals, including two of the three Masters awarded on the day.
Chairing this year’s panel of judges was Anne Jones, media manager of BWS at Waitrose. Joining her for the tasting at Mestizo Restaurant & Tequila Bar in London were Jair Bolaños, manager at Mestizo, Barny Ingram, bar manager at The Gun, Damien Egan, bar consultant, Emilie Campesato-Mouragne, bar manager at The Lockhart, and Dale Sklar, director at Wine & Spirit International.
Kicking off the day’s proceedings was the Standard Tequila category, which received a warm reception from the judges who awarded two Silver medals to the only two mixtos in the competition.
Next on the menu were the Premium Tequilas, which collectively received one Master, seven Golds and three Silvers. The premium blancos pleasantly surprised the judges as a “burgeoning category”, according to Jones. The reposados on the other hand left some of the panel unimpressed, particularly with what they found to be “flat noses”.
But for the judges there was one standout entrant among the premium brands, this being Borco International’s Sierra Antiguo Añejo, which picked up the first Master medal of the day.
The judges noted flavours of vanilla and toffee coming through and described the Tequila as “evocative” with an “interesting nose”. “What’s interesting is the lower end of the category is showing improvements in quality, and what was previously to be taken as acceptable is no longer as acceptable,” Sklar explained. “The general quality is definitely improving.”
Moving onto the Extra Añejo Premium category, the judges were unanimously impressed with the quality of Productos Finos de Agave’s Tequila Camp Azul Extra Añejo, awarding it a Gold medal.
Going into the Super Premium category, the judges’ expectations were understandably higher connsidering the inflated price points, however the first round of Blanco Super Premium entries left an unpleasant taste in the judges’ mouths.
All three entries received Silvers, but the panel’s opinions were divided with the majority feeling underwhelmed by what they had sampled. “I’m not sure what to think. I wanted it to give me something more,” said Campesato-Mouragne.
But the disappointment was short-lived, with the Reposado Super Premium category attracting the second Master of the day for another entrant from Borco International – Sierra Milenario Reposado. “It is everything I expect from a Tequila,” exclaimed Campesato-Mouragne. “It just shows you can sip Tequila and find your favourite.”
The day rounded off on a high note with Borco International impressing once again and being awarded the final Master of the day for its Sierra Milenario Extra Añejo. “With añejo you have such expectations because it’s aged for longer. Great Tequila is nicely balanced because there’s that real agave,” said Sklar.
The super premiums faired well overall during the day, receiving two Masters, four Golds and three Silvers altogether.
On the whole, The Tequila Masters 2014 generated a great deal of excitement for the category and its potential to grow as both a sipping spirit and quality cocktail ingredient.
“Tequila is always a fascinating category to judge, and today’s line-up demonstrates just how far it has come in recent years,” added Jones.
“There were a couple of absolute standouts in the Super Premium category, as you’d expect, but it was a pleasure to see the breadth of styles and general high quality at the entry level too. I have high hopes for the direction of the category and today has reinforced my positivity.”
The full list of The Tequila Masters 2014 results are on the following page.
|Borco International||Sierra Tequila Silver||Silver|
|Borco International||Sierra Tequila Reposado||Silver|
|Borco International||Sierra Antiguo Plata||Gold|
|Destiladora del Valle de Tequila||Bambarria Tequila Blanco 100% Agave||Gold|
|Productos Finos de Agave||Tequila Campo Azul Blanco||Silver|
|ASM Liquor||Tequila Blu Reposado||Gold|
|Destiladora del Valle de Tequila||Bambarria Tequila Reposado 100% Agave||Gold|
|Productos Finos de Agave||Tequila Campo Azul Reposado||Silver|
|Borco International||Sierra Antiguo Añejo||Master|
|Fraternity Spirits||Tequila Corralejo 99,000 Horas Añejo||Gold|
|Productos Finos de Agave||Tequila Campo Azul Añejo||Gold|
|Fraternity Spirits||Tequila Corralejo Añejo||Silver|
|Extra Añejo Premium|
|Productos Finos de Agave||Tequila Campo Azul Extra Añejo||Gold|
|Blanco Super Premium|
|Borco International||Sierra Milenario Blanco||Silver|
|Pernod Ricard México||Olmeca Altos Blanco 100% Agave Plata Tequila||Silver|
|Reposado Super Premium|
|Borco International||Sierra Milenario Reposado||Master|
|Pernod Ricard México||Olmeca Altos Reposado 100% Agave Tequila||Gold|
|Libation Nation||Donkey Piss Tequila||Silver|
|Añejo Super Premium|
|Fraternity Spirits||Tequila Corralejo Gran Corralejo||Gold|
|Destileria La Alteña||Villa Lobos Tequila Añejo 100% Agave||Silver|
|Extra Añejo Super Premium|
|Borco International||Sierra Milenario Extra Añejo||Master|
|Tequila Arette||Arette Gran Clase Extra Añejo||Gold|
|Destileria La Alteña||Villa Lobos Tequila Extra Añejo 100% Agave||Gold|