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Best of the Best 2013: Spirits: Leóna Tequila

  • Richard Carleton Hacker

With every new release of DeLeón, Brent Hocking takes his interpretation of superpremium tequila to the next level of aging—except in the case of Leóna (www.thelastdrink.com, $825), which has been aged for 34 months, just two months shy of qualifying as an extra añejo. “We tasted this tequila every two months,” says Hocking, “and at 34 months, we felt it had reached perfection. Any longer in the barrels and the oak would have taken over.”

The tequila is aged in 2007 Château d’Yquem barrels, which imbue this limited-edition, bronze-hued añejo-plus with their characteristic hint of cinnamon. Deeper essences of rose petal, toasted orange peel, and cherry also emerge. Leóna’s smooth texture is reminiscent of Cognac, though the black python-skin flask that accompanies each handblown glass bottle suggests that this intriguing spirit is derived from more exotic ingredients than grapes. Hocking enhanced the tequila’s mystical allure by launching it on December 21, 2012: the apocalyptic date associated with the Mayan Long Count calendar. Fortunately, we are all still here to enjoy it.