Thursday, 31 March 2016

Mi Casca Viejo, su Casca Viejo...

I realised in a dramatic moment, similar to that in a film thriller where an unexpected plot twist is revealed to the protagonist, that I had faked my own death, had my face reconstructed to look like myself, and have been cheating on myself with my own wife since long before the whole death faking, face reconstructing incident… and also that I didn’t have any tequila… so I decided to buy some. It would be useful for the impending poker night, for which I’d been struggling to decide which spirits would have the honour of accompanying me.

Tequila presents an ideal solution; it’s the kind of thing you can drink a lot of and, as it’s a new bottle I wouldn’t be too bothered about making a dent in it.

Bring a Bottle combined with my short term Amazon Prime account to point me in the direction of this 100% agave tequila, Casco Viejo,  which is sadly only 38% alcohol. I’ve seen it hailed online as the 3rd best selling tequila brand in the world – probably due to its apparent good value – 70cl for £19 on this occasion. There does seem to be a 70% agave version of this one (perhaps an older expression), but the one I purchased on Amazon definitely appeared to say 100% on the bottle and, when it arrived, that was still the case.

I always buy 100% agave these days because, once you’ve tried it, there’s no reason to accept anything less. There are enough affordable brands available in enough outlets, so once you’ve learned that there is a distinction, you’ve no excuse. Nevertheless, tequila is a spirit that I’ve only managed to wade into about calf high at this point, and it doesn’t matter to me if it’s cheap.

A bit of quality research into this one (not too much), revealed that, according to Master of Malt: “it’s definitely suitable for cocktails”.  Well that’s a ringing endorsement if ever I saw one. I wasn’t worried though; I haven’t found a bad full agave tequila yet. Would this be the first?

Well, I can’t say I’m too impressed with the presentation; a stubby bottle with a silvery label and a cheap-ass screw cap. Still, at least that suggests that very few of my nineteen pounds have been spent on aesthetics.

On first taste it seemed decent enough, though I have to admit to being a little disappointed, and convinced that it wouldn’t be troubling el Jimador for top spot in my tequila league table. Things were different on the second tasting however. This time I was washing down some fish and chips, as it revealed a grainy but pleasing texture and a nice dry finish.

A week after the poker night, I was due to attend another, similar event for which tequila would be a useful addition. Phil hadn’t gotten any spirits in for the video games party – an oversight I compared to bringing a bus pass to a gun fight (which seemed to be quite humourous at the time…) – but Gary had also bought tequila; and it was only my reigning favourite, el Jimador – whose bottle looks to have undergone a bit of a refurb since the last time I bought it (last summer). So I’m pleased to be able to say that I was able to conduct a direct comparison.

Both products come in at around £20 for 70cl, so they are the epitome of affordable 100% agave tequilas and as comparable as it is possible for any two products to be. Having gotten used to the Casco Viejo over the last week or so, I decided to reacquaint myself with el Jimador first. Yep, that was pretty much how I remembered it; sharp with a pleasing agave bite. Still definitely worth your 20 notes.

When it came to the Casco Viejo, I was surprised to discover that I liked it even better. There isn’t a massive amount of difference, but with the Casco you’re getting a slightly oilier texture that will make your brain think, “mm, luxurious”. The citrus element is possibly a little more prevalent, while the agave is more muted and has less sting. Overall the flavour is more rounded and it actually reminds me of the Chichicapa mezcal, but a lot cheaper. For the timebeing it has convinced me there’ll be no need to be remortgaging my house to fund further  purchases of expensive, artisanal Mexican spirits. Good tequila can still be had for a fraction of the price.

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