Back in April, our customers were treated to something very special when we introduced Fuenteseca Extra Anejo 7 Year Old Tequila to the store. I had tasted a sample of this earlier in the year and was absolutely blown away by the depth and complexity of this old agave spirit and knew that lovers of fine tequila were going to go nuts over it- as were lovers of Scotch, bourbon, and other brown spirits. And I was right, because after a few short weeks our supply had completely dried up and people were begging for more. So I contacted Jake Lustig in California (Jake is the importer of Fuenteseca) to see about getting a second shipment for Indiana. What I got a few weeks later was a small box with a half dozen small sample bottles filled with very old Fuentesecas for me to try. Talk about hitting the jackpot!
You see the Fuenteseca Tequilas are the work of Enrique Fonseca, a legend within the agave world, known for his pioneering skills in creating tequilas which showcase the terroir of the agave, individual distillation techniques, and the differences in maturation with regard to barrel type and location. But his greatest achievement is his work in barrel-aging spirits for extended periods of time. Fonseca began to lay down casks of spirit in the early 1990s, when just about every other producer was thinking about how to get as much cheap swill into the gullets of the their unsuspecting customers as possible. Fonseca wanted to put into practice the techniques that he had learned during his time spent with single malt producers in Scotland. He had learned about the effect of copper on a spirit, the art of distillation using both pot and column stills, the sourcing of excellent oak casks, and the patience that is needed to see the product transform from a fiery young spirit to a deliciously complex and smooth beverage. Fonseca does not strictly adhere to one type of oak as is typically done in Mexico, and instead uses both American and European oak, American bourbon casks, Canadian rye casks, and a selection of both white and red ex-wine casks. He also moves casks from one maturation site to another so that the maturing agave can develop at different speeds depending on altitude, humidity levels, wind, etc. All of these factors have a bearing on the finished product.
As you will see from my notes below, a lot of work goes into the making of these tequilas, work that you will not find in other commercially available tequilas. This is what makes Fuenteseca so unique.
The Fuenteseca line begins at 7 years old and runs right up to 21 years old, making this line-up the oldest vintage dated tequilas available in the world. They are exquisite works of art in every bottle, yet are free from the pretentious marketing gimmicks that are found with the big name brands. Basically what you get is amazing tasting tequila without all of the fancy fluff. Enjoy!
Fuenteseca Reserva Anejo 2005 7 Year Old Reserva Tequila (20 Bottles Available) – ($149.99) – This is tequila quite unlike anything else I have tasted before. The nose is chock-a-block full of flavor with notes of molten toffee, roasted agave, mango, oak spice, cola, and butterscotch. The palate entry is delicate, with just a hint of sweetness. Warming spices like nutmeg and clove come through along with roasted agave and toasted fruits, with a delicate kick of vanilla. The finish is long and fades out with generous sprinkle of pepper on the end. This is truly an amazing spirit and will absolutely change your perception of tequila and what it can offer. Bourbon, Scotch, Irish and Cognac fans, this is for you!
Fuenteseca Reserva Anejo 2001 12 Year Old Reserva Tequila (8 Bottles Available) – ($289.99) – The interesting thing about this tequila is its color. Enrique does not use any additional flavors or colors so all of his tequilas tend to be different from batch to batch, but while all the other tequilas have a similar pale golden hue, this 12 year old is decidedly deep amber in tone. This is an utterly rewarding spirit and I loved every minute of it. The nose is so enticing, with a lovely herbal quality. I get thyme and basil, with flecks of freshly sawn wood, tree sap, and touches of butterscotch. The entry is rich and round with pepper and spice followed by roasted agave. It is distinctly fatter on the palate and this could be due to the fact that, as opposed to the 9 year above, Enrique opted to use the Copper pot still for 80% of the distillate. Ninety percent of the spirit was then put into ex-American red wine casks with the remaining 10% aged used dark French oak casks.
Fuenteseca Reserva Anejo 1998 15 Year Old Reserva Tequila (8 Bottles Available) – ($399.99) – What amazes me about these spirits is that each vintage is absolutely unique. This 15 year old is not like a continuation of the 12 year old. No, the nose on this spirit is full of savory notes. Think of sweet tropical flowers, agave sugar, and freshly buttered toast. On the tongue it is so soft and delicate from the first sip right to the very end, it’s like a gently moving river of agave flowing through your mouth and over your tongue. It’s amazing! Enrique chose Highland agave harvested in the Atotonilco area of Jalisco in the spring of 1998. That distinct sweetness comes from the use of 97% ex-American oak casks. Of that 97%, three quarters of the spirit was aged in bourbon casks with the remainder aged in mostly red wine casks, along with one Chardonnay cask.
Fuenteseca Reserva Anejo 1995 18 Year Old Reserva Tequila (4 Bottles Available) – ($549.99) – If the 15 year sounded good then the 18 year old is on an altogether different level. It has a beautiful nose that I could sniff all day. There is cinammon and other spice notes, along with toasted oak, milk chocolate ganache, and faint hints of rosin (from a viola bow). The palate is rich and fat and coats your tongue. The chocolate moves in along with roasted agave and spice and warming heat that carries through to an incredibly long finish. The agave was harvested and distilled in September 1995 with three quarters of the spirit distilled in Enrique’s copper pot still (that’s where the texture comes from!). One hundred percent of the distillate was then aged in Canadian rye casks at a high altitude warehouse (4,500′) for six years. At the end of this period, the tequilas were then blended and re-barreled with half left to rest in Canadian white oak casks while the other half was put into European oak barrels that had previously held red wine. The casks were then moved to a cooler, breezier location and left to age for an additional 12 years.
Fuenteseca Reserva Anejo 1993 21 Year Old Reserva Tequila (4 Bottles Available) – ($799.99) – Only a lucky few will ever have the opportunity to taste this incredible tequila and if you can at all afford it then I say, buy it because you will be richly awarded. This is incredible and a masterpiece. The color is pale gold, the nose is bright with citrus, lemon bonbons, mango, clove, oak spice, and lemon meringue pie. The entry is beautiful and warming and coats all areas of the mouth. It’s has richness without being cloying. Flecks of vanilla, spice, sweet agave, sap, nougat, and hazelnut are all lined up in an orderly fashion, waiting patiently to make their appearance on the stage. and when they do it is oh, so lovely. Seriously, this is so delicious that I don’t know how I will ever come down from this tasting experience. The agave used for this vintage was planted in 1984, harvested 9 years later in the fall of 1993. The agave was cooked, fermented and distilled entirely in copper pot stills and the resulting spirit was put into barrel in early 1994. The casks were then stored in a dry earthen floor room in Atotonilco el Alto for ten years before being moved up to a cooler climate storage room, farther up the hill that overlooks the town where the casks were exposed to cooler weather. Here they stayed for another 11 years. All barrels except one were had previously been used to age California white wine with the exception being the one that was used to age a Canadian rye whiskey.
Please note: not for Margaritas!