Tequila isn’t what it used to be when I was in college. There was a time when it seemed that there was only Cuervo and if you wanted to get fancy, Patrón. Roll by the tequila section of your local liquor store today, however, and it’s a different story: There seems to be more choices than ever before and a number of eye catching labels and bottles to boot (I myself have drunk tequila from a bottle shaped like a pistol).
I recently decided to revisit the ghosts of my past and pick up a handle of Jose Cuervo Gold to see if those one-too-many shots back in my early 20s ruined this tequila once and for all. After I purchase an all-too-familiar handle — the same bottle, the same weight and heft that it’s always had, even back in college — I sit down with a shot glass, pour myself a measure and this is what I find out:
Color: Cuervo Gold isn’t actually all that gold when I pour it in a shot glass. Gold tequila gets its color not from the aging process, but rather from some form of mysterious coloring agent that is added. It’s barely yellow, like it’s only been vaguely tinted the right color. Sort of ominous when you think about it. Maybe the color is a sign for me to quit while I’m ahead?
Aroma: Smells like bad life choices. My stomach gives a lurch as it remembers the wild nights (or at least the hideously ill-conceived nights) and the energy of youth, where you could get wrecked all night and be more or less back to normal by four o’clock the next afternoon. Now it takes me the better part of two days, if I’m lucky.
Taste: “Oh God,” I think as I brace myself, “here we go.” I don’t have a garbage can or a bucket handy, but if worst comes to worse, there’s always the litterbox. I apologize in advance to both my cats, just in case, then down the hatch!
In retrospect, Curevo Gold doesn’t taste as bad as I thought it was going to be. There’s a vague and unpleasant taste of sand that bothers me, but it sits nicely on the tongue and the burn doesn’t overwhelm at all.
Finish: Well, it doesn’t go down all that badly, the warm sensation is decent and gradual, but the aftertaste is absolutely vile and leaves me with the urge to brush my teeth.
Overall: I’ll admit that I have a sort of morbid curiosity to actually see an agave plant up close in order to figure out exactly what it is about this plant that makes people want to distill it into tequila. Other than that, if anyone expects me to start exploring the newly diverse and increasingly varied world of tequila, they’re going to have to offer me something amazing first.