Camarena Mini Tasting, have we made a deal with the devil?

I make that harsh remark in the title based on the fact that this “new” tequila on the market is broad-casted via the Gallo family, of California wine fame. Thats info thats been typically under the surface and the distillers 6 generation family is the story being inserted into the Camarena lore. The distiller, nom 1456 is one thats held with fairly high regard producing such gem’s as Tapatio, Maracame and Don Agustin. If you pay attention you’ll see this brand mass-marketing its juice along side baseball venues, like every single team out there. So its obviously here to stay. Only time will tell but this brand has serious money being spent on advertising and could be the next Cuervo or Patron, or is it somewhere in between?

These bottles can be had anywhere between $16 and $20 per 750ml with some people finding it as low as $14 bucks. Thats straight up bargain territory. There are plenty of killer bottles in this price range that make not only great mixers but a pretty damn good sipper too including Espolon, El Ultimo Agave, and Pueblo Veijo. While we love to sip artisanal, hand crafter tequila’s, this price range is where we live when it comes to making pitchers of paloma’s, ‘rita’s or sipping on the patio. In a way we have a vested interest in this price catagory and love when newcomer shows up to make us rethink our next purchase.

We picked up 2 50ml airplane bottles to try before plunking down the cash on the full 750’s. For our tasting we were into it for $2 bucks, not too shabby if you ask me. Familia Camarena comes in two ages, Silver and Reposado. Both are 100% agave. We started with the silver and moved to the repo. I poured both while we were having dinner (mussels in chipotle ftw!) to let them breath for a bit. I purposely detuned the heat in the mussels by only using 1 chipotle so it wouldn’t screw with our palet’s. As usual we drank them out of Riedel Overture Tequila glasses. Which I’ll review later this week.

The Silver- Upon pouring we noticed a very silvery, almost platinum color to the Blanco. Swirling produced very small pearls which open into fat tears. The run all over the place both slowly and fast. The nose had floral and agave notes with small bits of alcohol and an earthy brininess, similar to pickling scents. The alcohol could be rubbing alcohol but its faint enough I really couldn’t distinguish it. The taste was very vegetal, almost overwhelmingly so. There was a sweetness there too that I described as carmelized onions that werent fully cooked yet. It had a heavy mouthfeel with some saltiness. Hints of smoke (odd for an unaged tequila) and hay/stray were noticed too. I know some of these descriptors aren’t exactly pleasing but they sound worse than the taste. Over we gave it a 2.5 outta 5 Next time we’ll try some in a mixer, since it’ll probably work wonders there. As a sipper, there are other el cheapo bottles we like better.

The Repo- Swirling brought almost zero pearls. The glass had a very cascaded look similar to an American lager after the head wears down. I thought they looked like Chinese letters that bled into a chaotic blend of slow, fat tears. The color was extremely faint but you could tell it was aged. The light straw color reminded us of the Patron tasting we did a week ago. The nose was far mellower than the silver. Even after breathing for 20 minutes I felt it still hadn’t opened up. Who has time to wait 20+ minutes for a cheapo tequila to breath? So we dove into it. Upon smelling you could tell there was some family appeal going on here. Similar notes of agave and vegetal grassiness were going on with the slightest vanilla and spiced apple coming out during tasting. I got some of that toasted sourdough bread while Amy agree’d she noted it probably had some nutella on it too. Nutella? then she noted Hazelnuts and some milk chocolate. I got a sense of something charred, maybe it reinforced the toasted sourdough. The finish was far sweeter and pleasing than the initial taste. Overall it was a much better execution than the Silver. Again I’d like to try it as a mixer. 3 outta 5

A Catalina Wine Mixer? maybe. A Camarena Tequila Mixer? Definitely.

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