Australia’s love affair with tequila shows no sign of drying up, with the nation now the third largest consumer of agave-based spirits per capita, behind Mexico and the US. Once relegated to the ranks of party drink – think shots, slammers and sugary sweet sunrises – the next-generation tequila experience is more about quality than quantity. The premiumisation trend accelerated during the pandemic, with people seeking to recreate bar and cocktail experiences at home using top-shelf spirits. Increased interest in the craftsmanship and unique flavours of tequila has added to its appeal.
“Driven by the rising popularity of the margarita, tequila is the fastest growing white spirit in Australia and thankfully we have more quality products to choose from than ever,” says judge Matt Linklater, brand ambassador for Campari.
Boasting a distinct place of origin, tequila must be crafted from a minimum 51% blue agave, a succulent (not a cactus) grown in one of five specific regions of Mexico. Boutique tequila makers up the stakes by using higher percentages of blue agave to allow the pure flavour of the plant to shine through – a winning formula for this year’s award finalists, both made with 100% blue agave grown high in the mountains of Jalisco.
“The blanco (unaged) tequilas were a standout, with bright agave and pleasant minerality,” according to judge Matt Linklater. “An absolute winner, Patron Silver Tequila stood out for its smooth texture and highly complex flavour profile,” says judge Holly Klintworth, director and distiller of Bass & Flinders Distillery. Harvested by hand, blue agave is baked in traditional ovens then triple-distilled to create this crystal-clear tequila. Judge David Irwin, founder and distiller of Patient Wolf Distilling Co, called it “a great all-round tequila,” noting a “slightly herbaceous and slightly sweet taste.” Perfect for a margarita, Patron Silver is also pure enough to sip on ice. Just use large ice cubes that won’t melt too quickly and dilute the flavour. For food pairings, try citrus-spiked dishes such as ceviche or citrus salad, or keep it simple with tortilla chips and handcrafted salsa made with plenty of lime juice.
Finalist: Espolon Tequila Reposado
Rich-tasting with vanilla and spice notes, finalist Espolon Tequila Reposado makes a great match for a craft citrus tonic or soda – try Fever-Tree Lime and Yuzu Soda. Or whip up a pink grapefruit paloma with 50ml tequila, 60ml pink grapefruit juice, 10ml fresh lime juice and a splash of soda.
While the margarita has endless permeations, it’s hard to beat the taste of a classic margarita with its perfect balance of sweet, salty and sour (and spicy if you want to add chilli flakes to the salt rim).
Ingredients (serves 2)
Sea salt flakes, to serve
Lime wedges, to serve
Ice cubes, to serve
40ml Cointreau liqueur or triple sec
40ml lime juice
1. Pour some salt into a shallow dish. Rub a lime wedge around the rim of 2. serving glasses. Dip the glass into the salt to coat. Fill the glasses with ice.
2 Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the tequila, Cointreau or Triple sec and lime juice. Shake for 10 secs, then strain into the prepared glasses. Garnish with lime, if desired.
Products featured are available from 06/09/23 to 10/10/23, while stocks last. Some products or varieties featured may not be available in all stores.