Tequila is trendy these days. Several brands have hit the market recently, but, surprisingly, few of them are 100-percent Mexican-owned. Don Roberto, named for Don Roberto Orendain, who founded the brand back in 1924, is. Of course, it’s no small label. It’s made by the largest tequila producer in the province of Jalisco, where the distillery is located. But the Don Roberto bottling is a special reserve made by and for the family; it has only been marketed commercially since 1995 and is only available in the U.S. as of now.
The agave is slow cooked in a brick oven, a process that can take up to 72 hours, as opposed to modern methods, which only take about eight hours. The Plata (or blanco) is a savory, perfumed spirit with notes of flowers and citrus. Its bold aromatics make it ideal for mixing in cocktails. The Reposado, aged six months in oak barrels, is more vanilla and honey, while the Anejo, aged one-and-a-half years, has deeper, spicier flavors of cocoa and wood. Taste them out of a proper Riedel tequila glass — Don Roberto himself helped the glassware company design the first official tequila-tasting vessel. Alternatively, sip them from a small wine glass. Whatever you do, just don’t waste this stuff on a lemon and a lick of salt. The precious blue agave plants will have cooked so slowly for naught.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 21, 2009