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Barrel aging can bring lovely color to tequila, ranging from pale yellow to deep amber depending on how long the spirit spends in a cask (and, ahem, whether or not any color was added). But put blanco tequila in a wine barrel of some sort and the resulting liquid takes on an enchanting pink hue, as is the case with the new Don Julio Rosado.
Don Julio’s newest expression is a reposado tequila, meaning it has spent between two and 12 months inside a barrel. Normally, that means ex-bourbon or American whiskey, but in this case the tequila rested for four months in French oak ruby port casks from the Douro region of Portugal (according to a representative for the brand, no coloring was added). The production process is similar to other Don Julio products, as global ambassador Karina Sanchez explains. The agave pinas are slow cooked in masonry ovens and then fermented with Don Julio’s proprietary yeast before distillation. But it’s the maturation that really separates this from other pink, or rosa, tequilas.
Don Julio is not the first brand to release a pink tequila aged in wine barrels, but most other brands use red wine casks from California. Codigo 1530, for example, ages its rosa expression for one month in French oak Cabernet barrels from the Napa Valley (other expressions are aged longer and change color from pink to amber and brown). Calirosa, Casa Rica and Komos follow a similar pattern with their tequilas, sourcing barrels from California wine country in which to age it (Casa Rica also uses the term “rosado”).
We had a chance to sample Don Julio Rosado for ourselves and came away impressed. The agave character shines through, but there’s a nice mix of honey, berries, dried fruit and just a hint of spice on the palate. The suggested serve for this tequila is to add a splash of soda water or just a simple lemon garnish, but it definitely drinks very nicely as a neat pour. Pick up a bottle to try for yourself from ReserveBar now, and see what you think about the pink.