Best of the Best 2012: Spirits: DeLeón 51 Extra Añejo Tequila

  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
    DeLeón 51 Extra Añejo Tequila Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com

To make a superb extra añejo—a tequila aged three years or longer—requires not only a superb añejo but also an equally superb blanco, for they all emanate from the same distillate. Last year, DeLeón Añejo easily met the añejo criteria, garnering a Best of the Best accolade. So one would expect the brand’s first extra añejo, DeLeón 51 Extra Añejo Tequila (www.deleontequila.com, $275), to be a top contender. And indeed it was. This latest offering raised the ante in this category by being the world’s first cask-strength extra añejo. This was made possible by the purity of the spirit, which results from slow-steaming (rather than roasting) the agaves and aging the tequila in new, uncharred French-oak Haute Futaie barrels that produced greater aromatics than traditional Limousin French-oak barrels. Typically, tequila that has been aging in oak for more than three years risks taking on woody characteristics, and usually an alcoholic roughness must be tamed by lowering the proof with distilled or ionized water. But after aging for 51 months and emerging at 51 percent alcohol (102 proof)—hence the extra añejo’s name—DeLeón 51 has the texture of Cognac and caresses the palate with a honeyed softness full of almonds and cherries.

Photo by Mark French
Hanyu Ichiro’s Card Series is a full deck of single malts from a famous but shuttered distillery…
This delectable pinot from Central California has a touch of sweetness and an acidic finish…
The world’s longest-serving malt master has masterfully combined some of the Balvenie’s top stocks…
A blend of 26-year-old Scotch whisky from two bygone distilleries keeps their legacy alive…
Fifth-generation winemaker Joseph Wagner crafts a Burgundian beauty from three California counties…
Fight through the bourbon shortage with these overproof whiskeys…
Even though the spirit contains tequilas up to 49 months old, it is completely translucent…
The whiskey was aged for 17 years in three different environments…
The new Scotch comes from one of Scotland’s oldest and smallest distilleries…
Photo by Thomas M. Barwick INC
“If I pour you a glass of Merlot, I guarantee that before you pick up the glass you’re tasting...