Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tequila Centinela Reposado NOM 1140 (Lote Year 2005 38% Abv.) - older 1L bottle presentation

Casa Centinela is a family owned and operated tequila distillery steeped in tradition. Its original predecessor began producing tequila around 1894, eventually Porfirio Torres Perez built the first Arandas, Jalisco tequila factory in 1904 under the name la destiladora Tequila Centinela. Later the company would be acquired by Don Jose de Jesus "Pepe" Hernandez Mendez. Don Pepe passed away in 2008, but the company was handed down to his son and two daughters. The company is still located in the city of Arandas, in the heart of the Los Altos growing region (Highlands). Casa Centinela is one of the few 100% Mexican owned distilleries remaining and is the 4th largest tequila producer in Mexico with brands Cabrito (Goat), Centinela (Sentinel), and the newest Clasico de Centinela. Note: there are currently two versions of Cabrito Tequila: Mixto (supposedly 80% Agave) and a 100% Agave; both offerings of Centinela and Clasico de Centinela are 100% Agave. 

The mature blue agave is sourced from Casa Centinela's five thousand hectares located in the Los Altos region. The blue agave pina halves are cooked and allowed to cool in one of the large capacity (15 TON) masonry hornos for around 48 hours. "The best beans are slowly cooked in a clay pot and not in a pressure cooker". The cooked agave is then put through a mechanical shredder (tears up the agave) and then a mechanical mill (molino) which extracts all the juices by applying a great amount of pressure and water  . The resulting mosto is later placed in large open stainless tanks (30000L or 100000L Capacity) without bagaso for a 4 day fermentation process with the aid of proprietary yeast strains - the Clasico de Centinela line uses a fermentation process that includes bagaso with the juices. The fermented juice is then distilled two times with one of Casa Centinela's 68 stainless steel stills (alambiques) with copper coils - Casa Centinela distills to desired proof. Supposedly Casa Centinela has the largest tequila cellar in the world with an excess of 56000+ barrels. 

Just a couple of years ago the Centinela lineup went through a presentation change - no idea if this coincided with the untimely passing of its patriarch - and the barrel aging times have also changed. Centinela Blanco still goes straight to the bottling line. The older versions of Reposado and Anejo were aged in used Jack Daniels barrels. The only information available for the current line is that Centinela Tequila is aged in American oak barrels (bourbon). Centinela Reposado: older round bottle version - aged 6-12 months: new short square bottle version - aged 18 months. Centinela Anejo: older round bottle version - aged 12 months: new short square bottle version - aged 24 months. Centinela 3 Anos: older round bottle version - aged 36 months; new tall square bottle version - aged 60 months. No clue if the current stuff is aged in new or heavily used barrels but there is a huge disparity in aging times.

Appearance: Pale yellow-straw colour with slight hue. Medium length - slow legs that cling to the sides of my Riedel glass. Aroma: cooked agave and pepper dominate, fruit (figs?), caramel/butterscotch, oak, and some alcohol. Flavour: earthy, a lot of cooked agave, pepper, caramel/butterscotch, roasted marshmallow (camp fire days - which I really dig), fruit (more like raisin?), hint of anise, subtle cinnamon, and slight oak. Semi-oily upon entry and slightly sweet - roll a sip around the mouth - get that nice balance of above mentioned flavours. Finish: lasts a LONG time with agave, caramel, intense spice and slight alcohol burn that lingers. Very enjoyable and easily one of my favourites. **HIGHLY RECOMMEND**

I make no secret of the fact that I prefer the older style tequila found in the round bottles after doing a few blind test tastes of old vs. new bottles. Something in the production or aging process has slightly changed which makes the new stuff less desirable - flavours seem dialed down a notch. I still enjoy the new offering but highly covet the older bottles. 

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