Suddenly, there's plenty of movement in the tequila market. New brands - Partida, Tezon, Distinguido, La Certeza, Siembra Azul, to name only the ones that quickly come to mind - are flying into the market, at very hefty prices, too. Line extensions - Cuervo's Jose Cuervo Black Medallion, a Canadian whiskey-like tequila, aged for one year in new charred oak and apparently targeted at the drinker who favors rum and Coke or Jack and Coke is one.
Also from the House of Cuervo, comes 1800 Coleccion, the infrequently produced and exceedingly dear ($1800 per bottle!) Colección Tequila are produced in extremely limited editions with the previous release in 2003. According to the company, "The tequila is so exclusive it is only produced and released in the best years of production and is the product of over 15 years of dedication and careful supervision. Crafted in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico, 1800 Colección Tequila is an unparalleled blend of Tequilas aged between five and fifty years in deeply charred barrels of French oak."
The 1800 is one of those fantasy tequilas, the ones that tequila lovers will use to convince me that tequila is as ageable and subtle as Cognac. It is remarkable; textured, smooth, but still fruity and piña-ful. I don't argue anymore about this, but I just think tequila's greatness shows best in its youth rather than under oak.
But the real news these days is that tequila makers - notably, Cuervo again and Milagro - are issuing flavored tequilas in the U.S. market. It could be that they've come too late to the fair, with store shelves and back bars already groaning with vodka and rum brand flavor extensions, which would be too bad. Years ago, the charming Lucinda Hutson turned me on to some home-made flavored tequila recipes in her book !Tequila! Cooking with the Spirit of Mexico, and some of the them are among the best infusion recipes I've ever tried. Tequila's natural sugars do well with fruit and herb combinations, obviously, and I've always wondered why there aren't more Mexican restaurants serving drinks made with tequila infusions. Maybe that will be the result of the introduction of these flavored tequilas into the market. Or maybe the flavors themselves - I've yet to try them - will be good enough to make a mark. I'm sure if Cuervo's market might makes a dent, others will be close behind. We'll see.