BEST of the BEST 2014 | Leisure | Spirits: Clase Azul Añejo Edición Indígena Mazahua

Clase Azul, a boutique tequila fábrica located in the Jésus María region of Arandas in Jalisco, Mexico, not only has produced its first commercially available añejo but, in so doing, also has created what is one of the world’s few truly handcrafted spirits. After slow-roasting the organic Weber’s blue agaves (which are at least 9 years old) in traditional brick ovens called hornos, workers ferment the pressed tequila nectar using pure springwater and Clase Azul’s proprietary yeast, then double distill it in copper-lined stills. The spirit’s true transformation, however, takes place during 25 months of aging inside ex–Jim Beam bourbon barrels. The rich añejo that emerges from these vessels is deep amber in color—much darker than most añejos—and possesses flavors of caramelized cedar and citrus. The tequila is then triple filtered and bottled in handmade, hand-painted Talavera ceramic decanters that feature both glazed and unglazed surfaces to symbolize the Old and New Worlds. Christened Clase Azul Añejo Edición Indígena Mazahua (www​.claseazul.com, $450) to honor the indigenous Mazahua people who still create these decanters, Clase Azul’s premier añejo is as rich in cultural allusions as it is in flavor.  

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