The Bottom Line
- Rich, spicy blanco tequila that is tastes handcrafted.
- Limited availability and a nearly $60 price tag.
- Double distilled 100% blue agave blanco tequila.
- Produced by Miles and Marko Karakasevic of Charbay Winery & Distillery, Napa Valley, California
- 40% alc/volume (80 proof)
- Retails for around $58/750ml bottle
Guide Review - Charbay Tequila Blanco
So, we have the first tequila distilled by California distillers made completely of blue agave grown on an estate whose GPS coordinates can be found on every bottle's label. In this instance the estate is in the rich, red soiled fields of Los Altos de Jalisco, where in my journey to the tequila fields produced some of the best tequilas you will find on the market. The agave plants grow for eight years before reaching the beginning of the tequila making process with a four day baking session in brick ovens, which adds a certain richness to the final product. Once the juices are extracted the distilling team from California comes in and they bring their European-based double distilling technique that has done so well for them in the past. After the trips through the copper alembic pot still the tequila is "barely" filtered, cut to 80 proof, and bottled.
Each of those elements have played important roles in producing one of the most interesting tequilas I've had to date. Where some tequilas attempt to be ultra smooth, Charbay has developed a full-flavored tequila that has that ultra smooth quality. Imagine one of the great anejo tequilas without the taste of the barrel, just pure, refined agave flavor and you have Charbay Tequila Blanco. Sure, there is pepper (a substantial amount) notes along with those of chamomile, cinnamon, and other herbs, but the underlying flavor you taste here is agave at its finest. I liken it to a spicy piece of the agave pina straight out of the oven, which is the richest, sweetest baked plant I have ever tasted with this wonderful caramel that easily beats any manufactured candy. For Charbay to have captured that is truly showing off their craft.
How would you drink a tequila of this quality? At $58 a bottle it is not the cheapest tequila available, but is in line with other premium tequilas, therefore I say sip at will and mix carefully. You don't want to use this tequila in a drink that masks it's unique aspects, instead choosing tequila cocktails that compliment the natural flavors of a tequila such as this Jalisco High Tea, a Juan Collins, or a simple Tequini. Other than that, pour it over some ice, chill it, or sip it warm and enjoy.
From the nose to the finish, this tequila has a vibrant mix of herbs, peppery spice, and sweet agave.