I read in the LA Times, an article that describes to you “How to Drink Tequila” and I found it rather amusing that the writer of that article mentioned that the first sip “warms you up” and stretches your mouth muscles for what is to be the complex flavors of tequila, whatever they may be. This is the part where I call “bullshit.” This first sip that warms you up in preparation for the complex flavors of tequila is more like that same burning sensation of drinking bottom shelf vodka’s for the very first time. It just burns and then it leaves off a terrible aftertaste once it goes down the gullet. It’s hard to describe because immediately after the tequila hits the back of your throat and travels its way down the gullet, you taste this sharp but short bitterness that doesn’t linger. Every subsequent sip after that won’t give you that same sensation. If anything, it’s like the tequila takes on a totally different character, unlike its first, really horrible experience. If I had to say it, it’s like the initial burn kills off or numbs your taste buds to the point that you can barely taste anything and then every subsequent sip after that, whatever that you can taste is now the only thing that is apparent on your taste buds, if that makes any sense.
I’d like to add that vodka doesn’t do that. Not even bottom shelf vodkas. And my benchmark is Gran Legacy’s Vodka that goes for $6.99 a bottle, regular price, at your local CVS store. Granted, vodka’s are virtually tasteless. You might detect a hint of grainy flavor if you’re trying really hard to figure out what grains they used to make it but otherwise, for the casual drinker, it doesn’t really taste like anything. Tequila on the other hand? Well, most of my reviews so far have covered vodka’s, whiskey’s, flavored vodka’s, flavored whiskey’s, brandy, gin, and pre-made cocktails. Admittedly, like my review about E&J’s Apple Brandy, I don’t know much about tequila. I don’t know how to properly drink it. It’s all a first for me. Now, this is not to say that I haven’t had tequila before. Sure, I have. I’ve had tequila by Sauza, Don Julio, Cazadores, and various other brands whose names escape me at the immediate moment. But in all of those instances, I didn’t drink tequila for the taste. Like many others, I took them as a shot and usually at a bar or a house warming party. And in every instance, the tequila burned like taking shots of bottom shelf vodka, even Don Julio, which according to many Mexican friends of mine have noted, is considered one of the top and “real tequila’s” that Mexicans drink, as opposed to the heavily marketed, Jose Cuervo and Patron, which aren’t “real tequila’s” that Mexicans would actually drink to enjoy.
Let me take a step back for a moment. I live in East Los Angeles. Lincoln Heights is where I reside. I’m surrounded by Mexicans day in and day out. I’m not griping here but I’m just saying that if you hang around with Mexicans long enough, you get the sense of what they consider to be the real Mexican food (as opposed Americanized Mexican food) as well as real Mexican tequila (as opposed to crappy tequila). Taco Bell and Del Taco? That’s Americanized Mexican food. No real Mexican would eat there when there are taco stands on every other block, taco trucks, and several mom and pop shops all specializing in one or more of their hometown’s cuisines. The same would be true for tequila. If you don’t know anything about tequila, most people would simply reach for a bottle of Jose Cuervo or Patron because they see it on TV or as street banners on buses, benches, and buildings.
Now, let us return to El Jimador Tequila Reposado. I didn’t choose this bottle because of the advertising that I might have saw on TV or a street banner. No. I chose this bottle strictly based on price (it’s under $20) and of what little I’ve heard about the brand, El Jimador, from my Mexican friends. A lot of them simply didn’t say that they outright hated it but none of have said that it tasted great either. I figured amongst the shelf of tequila’s that were available and on sale at my local CVS, that I give this brand a try first before I consider the other brands. I’ve heard a lot of stories from my Mexican friends that the brand “Sauza” is one of the worst tequila’s ever made. And that if you had to buy Sauza, only buy their top shelf bottle. Never buy their mid-tier or bottom shelf tequila’s because they are utter crap. Those were their words, not mine. Me personally? I don’t know. But anyway, since El Jimador received the far least hate rating from my Mexican friends, I figured I’d give it a shot.
Like the LA Times articles I linked early, oh my god, the first sip definitely burned like a mofo. It’s not painful, per se, but it does burn and it is quite unpleasant. You might want a chaser, like a lemon or lime to suck on after you take your first sip. The good news is that the harshness of the tequila doesn’t linger but it definitely burns the tip of your tongue and that burning sensation will linger on the tip of your tongue for a while. That burning sensation isn’t all that bad because you won’t taste it. But it’s that swallowing, the act of swallowing, and the tequila hitting the back roof of your mouth that has this unpleasant bitterness to it. Adding ice to this actually makes this drink a lot worse, interestingly enough. The chilling ice effect actually brings to the fore all the harsh characteristics of this tequila so I would strongly advise that you don’t pour this on the rocks. The more that the ice melts and the subsequent melted water adding to the tequila actually makes it even worse. Adding carbonated water and tequila on the rocks, however? Now, it sort of resembles a gin and tonic, minus the lime and the pine cone-y flavor. It’s palatable, in other words, without it being terribly off putting when drunken neat or on the rocks. And to my credit, when I was buying this bottle of tequila, I was trying to remember what usually goes well with tequila and I remembered that tequila and some sweet and sour mix will make a margarita. So for this liquor review, instead of just buying my usual carbonated water with my liquor of choice, I also bought a bottle of Jose Cuervo Margarita mix to review as well.
And let me just say that I am really glad that I had bought this bottle of Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix because I wouldn’t be able to drink this tequila and truly enjoy it without this mix. I don’t really recommend El Jimador Tequila Reposado as a sipping tequila, if that’s even a thing that people do. I would strongly advise that you don’t pour this tequila on the rocks either but with carbonated water, it isn’t so bad. This tequila, at $15.99 sale price at CVS, (regular price being $19.99, I think?) should be a tequila that needs to be mixed with something else. It’s not meant to be drunk neat. There’s just too many unpleasant characteristics of this tequila to really enjoy whatever complex flavors that it’s supposed to have. In other words, the negatives aspects of this tequila will completely overshadow whatever positives that it might have.
Now, when you pour this tequila on the rocks with some sweet and sour mix, all of the sudden, the citric acid in the sweet and sour mix completely masks all of the bitter characteristics of the tequila. Unfortunately, because it’s a sweet and sour mix, that’s also all that you will taste (which could be a good or bad thing, depending on what you like). It essentially becomes a lemony, sweet cocktail of sorts. The ratio of tequila-to-sweet-and-sour-mix that I used was roughly a double shot glass cup full of ice, 2 oz of El Jimador, and 2 oz of the Jose Cuervo Margarita mix. You can adjust the ratio to your liking but this ratio definitely masked all the unpleasantness of the tequila. And as the ice melts, interestingly enough, this heightens the flavor of the sweet and sour mix a bit more.
All in all, if you plan on buying this, be sure to have something else to mix this with. Otherwise, it might be a better idea to consider another bottom shelf tequila for sipping.