El Zarco Tequila

el zarco tequila reviewI’ll confess that the cool looking bottle at my local liquor store is what conned me into buying and trying a 750ml bottle of El Zarco Tequila (Silver). I went to the liquor store to get a bottle of Taaka Vodka. Being that I already had some Camarena left at the house, I wasn’t really shopping for Tequila. The El Zarco silver tequila comes in a cool-looking, blueish-clear bottle. It is obvious from the print on the bottle that says, “Made with Blue Agave” that El Zarco is not made a 100% Agave tequila. It might also be obvious from the $10.99 price tag if I hadn’t had other good, 100% Agave tequilas in the past like Tres Alegres. Even most persnickety tequila snobs will admit that Tres Alegres is an excellent value. Unfortunately, Tres Alegres is very hard to find.

El Zarco Silver vs Reposado

I bought the Silver bottle of El Zarco thinking it was something different than the unimpressive reposado, Camarena I already had sitting at home. In general, the silver tequilas taste smoky and dry to me where-as the reposados have a sweeter, buttery, more caramel-like flavor. I’m not sure I like mixing a silver tequila with any type of margarita mixes because it might over power the flavor. I prefer the reposado or blancos for making margaritas – but putting a really good tequila into a mixed drink seems like a waste of money to me. There are plenty of partial-agave tequilas that are perfect for making mixed tequila drinks with and any of them that I have ever tried are much better than Jose Cuervo Gold or Silver. Okay, so the silver, El Zarco might be an exception. Since it is not a 100% Agave tequila perhaps, I thought, it might go pretty good in a strong, margarita with real lime juice and only a splash of triple-sec, Cointreau, Gran  Marnier or whatever else any of us might prefer in our margs. I was anxious to taste it by itself to see if I could tell it was not made from 100% agave. The bottle advertisement claims that the El Zarco is double-distilled, making me hopeful that this might be a pretty smooth sipping tequila even if it is a made-for-mixers, partial-agave, silver.

El Zarco Tequila Tasting Notes

From my first sniff of the El Zarco Tequila Silver, I instantly suspected it might have more of an alcohol-burn than the pleasant, smokiness of a good, 100% De Agave, silver tequila. My first taste didn’t prove me wrong. There is some nice smoke and agave flavor once you get past the alcohol burn, but it is clearly inferior to a 100% agave nectar tequila. Though there is a little butteryness to it, the El Zarco tequila just lacks the thickness and cream of the real thing. I decided to put some of the El Zarco into my stainless steel shaker. I squeezed some lime juice and put a couple of lime slices in with the tequila and a few ice cubes; shook and made a martini with it. The result was a decent, not great silver tequila martini. Last, I decided to try El Zarco with a complete, marg using the lime juice and triple sec. The result was a mediocre margarita. El Zarco is an average silver tequila; good, not great – but nothing bad or offensive about it either. I’d certainly try El Zarco reposado for making Margs if I could find a 1.75 liter bottle of it at a sub-$20 price. I’d give El Zarco 3 stars for the price. El Zarco is not so bad that I won’t enjoy drinking it. I would imagine that the bottle of El Zarco will be gone by the time I get around to reviewing my next tequila.

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Camarena Tequila

camarena tequilaCamarena tequila might not be a premium tequila brand, but it is not a discount, bargain-basement tequila brand either. I paid about $30.00 for a 1.75 liter bottle of Familia Camarena Reposado tequila at the famous and massive Apple Jack liquor store in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. For a huge liquor store, Apple Jack only has a good, not great tequila section. The name Camarena isn’t familiar to me and I”m surprised I haven’t seen this tequila somewhere else.  When shopping for margarita-making brands of tequila, my budget is usually $20.00 and under. I’ve found some very good tequila, including the Rancho Alegre Silver and Reposado which are made from 100% agave and sell for around $19.00 per 1.75 liter bottle. Unfortunately, most liquor stores don’t carry Rancho Alegre tequila, thus an opportunity arose for trying a new brand. Most stores don’t carry the Camarena tequila either. In fact, I was not going to find a tequila made from 100% agave at Apple Jack in my price range, so the Camarena was the next best thing. The attractive Camarena tequila bottle caught my eye because it had a bright orange tag with a 94 rating by Wine and Spirits.  If the rating is accurate then a tequila with a score that high should be good enough for sipping by itself, while cheap enough for consuming large margaritas. Could the Camarena hold up to that promise? I usually prefer the less expensive reposado over the similarly prices silvers or blanco tequila because they have a fuller, woodier flavor. I had to admit, though, the Camarena seemed very light for a repasado tequila – almost yellow and certainly not the dark, amber color of some of the other reposado tequila brands I’ve drank, much less something like a 3-year old extra anejo tequila. Well, every now and then, it is worth it to go beyond my budget by as much as 33% or more, just to try something new and supposedly better than the other tequila brands I’ve reviewed. So, onto my actual impressions of Camarena tequila.

Is Camarena Over-rated?

Is the Camarena reposado tequila as good as Wine and Spirits lofty, 94 rating? In a word, no. I think a 94 rating is much too high for any tequila in this price range, much less the Camarena which I’ve had better. The best thing I can say about Camarena is that it is dry and smooth . Certainly light years better than Cuervo Gold Tequila which doesn’t even deserve to be called, tequila.  Camarena is almost too dry. The first sip of this light gold tequila gives me just a little tease of the agave and smoky wood than quickly fades into the flat, disappointing burn of the alcohol taste. I notice little or no sweetness from the nectar. The Camarena seems to lack a little soul, but it also lacks the unpleasant punch of some of other tequila brands in this price range. If you’re not overly fond of the complexities of tequila flavor, but enjoy margaritas or sunrises, the Camarena will suit your tastes and budget just fine.

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Rancho Alegre Tequila

Tequila Drinker’s Best Kept Secret?

Rancho Alegre
Rancho Alegre Tequila

A Tequila this good and cheap has got to be one of the best kept secret on the planet (at least until this article). Yesterday afternoon, when I checked the ratings websites for bargain priced, decent 100% De Agave Tequila the name, Rancho Alegre, was no where to be found. I found some other brands that were rated very high and cost around $30 for a 750ml bottle. Some examples of these great value priced tequilas include names like Don Eduardo Silver, Hacienda Del Cristero, Marquez de Valencia Reposado, Oro Azul Blanco, just to name a few. With prestigious, Mexican brand names like these, it’s not hard to believe they are quality tequilas, even at a bargain price. But, if I had seen a name like this one on the list for $30.00, I’d be skeptical to say the least. That was before I knew what I know now.

100% De Agave

Armed with my top-shelf, $30-a-bottle, tequila shopping list, I stopped by my local liquor store on the way home from work. My hope was to find a good bottle of sipping tequila like the Don Eduardo and also buy a good mixer-tequila like Sauza for Margaritas, which my wife enjoys. Despite a very nice display and selection of Tequilas, I was unable to find any of the names on my wish-list. I was about to grab the $22.99, 1.75L Bottle of Sauza Gold, when the $17.99 price tag with the unusual name, Rancho Alegre, caught my eye. Underneath the Ranch Alegre label, read 100% De Agave. Now, I’ve had tequilas that claim to be 100% agave before that weren’t any good, so I was skeptical to say the least. Some of these lower priced tequilas claiming to be 100% De Agave remind me of Cuervo. They are very dirty and foul tasting, and don’t make a smooth margarita. Still, at $17.99 for a 1.75L bottle, I thought it might be worth the risk. I loaded the Safari App on my iPhone and searched for a quick review and found some very favorable comments. The ratings stated that Rancho Alegre is not only a good mixer, but very tasty sipping tequila. Either the Reposado or Silver Rancho came highly recommended by the first online review. Deciding I no longer needed the Sauza, I picked up a 1.75L bottle of Reposado.

Rancho Alegre Taste

The first sip of Rancho Alegre lived up to and maybe even surpassed its online rating: Buttery toffee, Agave nectar finishing up with pecan and walnuts. The finish has a bit of a nutty bite, but not at all unpleasant. It was almost too good to use for Margaritas. Before mixing a batch, I let my wife take a couple of sips. She immediately approved and absolutely savored the Margaritas. I couldn’t decide if wanted to drink the Margs or sip on it all by itself, so I did both. I probably drank way too much tequila last night, but had absolutely no headache this morning. I’ve reviewed some excellent bargains in Vodkas and Gins, but this newly discovered tequila is the clear winner of them all when it comes to bargain priced liquor. Now that I’ve let the secret out of the hat, I’d better stock up on Rancho Alegre while it’s still available at such an astoundingly, low price.

How do you rate Rancho Alegre Tequila?

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