Review: Hornitos Black Barrel – The Tequila for Whiskey Drinkers
I‘m not exactly sure why we equate tequila and Summer together, it’s a year round spirit in my house, but I guess it’s not for everyone. The tequila producers definitely know when their peak months are though, and I suppose that’s how a bottle of Hornitos Black Barrel tequila ended up on my desk. If you haven’t heard of it, turn on the tv, Hornitos has been pumping some serious money into advertising, especially during sports like the NBA playoffs. I’ll admit I’ve seen it several times and never really gave it a thought. Here’s why:
A) Every year, some brand goes “Black”. They promise bolder flavors, slap a new packaging on it, and bam: another ordinary spirit trying to be something it isn’t.
B) We’ve had a lot of “hybrid” spirits and haven’t been that impressed by many. The Gin aged in american oak barrels was pretty good. Even the premium vodka that was aged like a cognac was good, but that’s a short list. The list of one’s that didn’t get it right is much longer.
That’s not to say that my mind is made up, but I just haven’t gone out of my way to try another one. Thankfully our partners at Hornitos thought I should try Black Barrel and see if I couldn’t be persuaded. So what do you get when you take an 100% agave tequila and age it like a bourbon? Apparently you get a tequila that wins a lot of awards.
First Impression: As previously mentioned, with the “Black” label comes a common theme, a sleek and bold bottle that screams “powerful”. The tequila itself has a rich brown amber color but the aroma might win you over before you even get a taste. It’s spicy with notes of vanilla, oak, agave which is a pretty tempting combination. To someone who doesn’t drink nearly as much as I do, you might mistake this for a whiskey if you were smelling with your eyes closed.
Tasting Notes: This is a hybrid in every sense of the word. There’s no mistaking the fact this is a tequila, it’s got a great agave taste to it, but to add to that is the blend of caramel, oak, vanilla and spice from it’s aging. The agave actually does a great job in balancing the spiciness. There’s a bit of an after taste that lingers but overall the finish is very smooth. That’s important because if you ask most people that don’t like tequila why don’t they like it, they’ll usually say the burn at the end. This is a great way to bring a whiskey fan over to the other side.
Price: The suggested retail is around $29.99 [750/ml], that’s pretty good for what you’re getting, and considering it’s Summer you’ll likely find it on some great sales for even cheaper.
Final Word: For fans of whiskey and tequila, this is a must buy, for fans of Whiskey that are turned off by some of the common traits associated with tequila this is a “must try”. And for fans of traditional tequila this may or may not be for you. The barrel aging process makes a huge difference and it clearly takes off some of the edge. American Whiskey is insanely popular right now and that’s why every brand and spirit wants a piece of the pie. Hornitos Black Barrel might be the perfect tequila to persuade a few (or few thousand) whiskey fans to cross over. It’s got a great flavor where both the oak barrels and the agave are clearly present and a smooth finish. Combine that with a pretty attractive price and I think you’ve got a good product that I’d easily suggest any drinker try this Summer.