Cazadores produces 4 tequilas and today we get to sample a taste of each. This is not to say that they produce 4 totally different tequilas because they all start off with the superb Tequila Blanco (which I have previously tasted and reviewed and raved about). They then take that blanco and age it for 2-11 months to get Tequila Reposado, or they take it and age it for 12 months to make their Tequila Anejo and finally they take that Blanco and age it for 3 years to get their Tequila Extra Anejo.
It took founder Jose Maria almost 50 years to get these formulas right. He began making his tequila in secret back in 1922 and finally began marketing it in 1973. The brand name Cazadores means Hunters which made me jump to the conclusion that it relates to the picture of the stag on the bottle in a rather bloody fashion. However, it actually symbolizes Jose Maria’s pursuit (hunt) to create the finest tequila he could. Although I bet that if you were cooped up in a hunter’s blind for several days a bottle of this tequila would come in mighty handy.
The blanco is extracted from pure blue agave with a shredder-roller and double distilled in a stainless steel pot. The bottle is clear and displays the transparent spirit within. The nose is filled with the subtle but clear notes of roasted agave, just the way I like it. It is flowery and citrusy with a touch of pineapple and pepper but all that takes a back seat to the wonderful aroma of the agave. On the palate I immediately get more of the agave followed by the citrus and pepper. It is quite smooth and quite tasty. The finish is short and sweet leaving a lingering taste of agave.
I really have to tell you that this is a splendid tequila that can hold its own with tequilas costing 3 to 4 times as much. It is a delicate sipper and yet delivers a full measure of that agave flavor I look for. It is in no way bitter or harsh and will not make you jump up and down in pain like a cheap tequila will. This is not a cheap tequila but an inexpensive one. I simply can’t believe you can get a full bottle of it for just over $20.00! Oh, and you really don’t need those ice cubes with it, it’s really just that tasty all by itself.
Cazadores Tequila Reposado takes that blanco and rests it in virgin American oak barrels for 2-11 months which takes the color from that of clear water to an extremely pale yellow. I still get a nose full of flower and citrus but the agave aroma has become more subtle and is now accompanied by hints of vanilla and oak. On the palate, that straight forward wonderful agave flavor I experienced previously in the Tequila Blanco has melded more evenly with the other flavors and even become a bit smoother overall. I can appreciate the start of something more complex here but I am also beginning to miss the unadulterated taste of that pure agave. The finish is smooth and citrusy leaving the barest hints of agave and oak that lasts a short amount of time.
Cazadores Tequila Anejo is aged in American oak barrels for at least 12 months which gives it a very pale amber color. The nose ramps up a bit with all the aromas integrating even further than in the Reposado. This is a nose that is coming into its own now. The aromas of fruit and cinnamon followed by a hint of oak seem to have replaced the previous more citrus like aromas and the agave now seems to be an equal partner rather than a leader. The palate actually presents more agave than the nose does but it does so in a very delicate and restrained manner while picking up more notes of wood. The taste is now leaning more towards a pale scotch or even a light whiskey but thankfully I can still taste some of that wonderful agave. The finish is fruity and oaky and generally flavorful while smooth. You can just tell that a lot of care went into producing this light yet flavorful tequila.
Cazadores Tequila Extra Anejo is aged in American oak barrels for at least 3 years which gives it a lightly golden color not unlike pale amber. The nose has again moved closer into the direction of a blended scotch or light whiskey except for that undeniable hint of agave which has now taken an equal part to that of the nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla and oak aromas. On the palate, the agave taste now plays like an instrument in an orchestra; a wonderful and harmonic blend of tastes with none really playing lead but all contributing to a grand symphony. Granted the agave is still forward but now has more closely blended into the other tastes which have grown more complex yet more subtle. The finish is smooth, featuring nutmeg and oak underneath that now very subtle agave and lasts a short but sweet amount of time.
It is truly amazing what oak ageing will do for a tequila, especially in the production of a smoother tequila but it all seems to come at the cost of a diminishing of the agave flavor rather than the enhancement of that agave flavor. Yes, it gets smoother, it gets more complex, it gets a world of wonderful flavors but it also steps further and further from the incredible flavor of pure agave. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like all that complexity and ageing and blending of flavors but I really, really like the flavor of roasted agave. I appreciate the effort and time it takes to produce an Anejo much less an extra Anejo but I also appreciate the effort it takes to grow and harvest and process a decent agave plant.
So for my finale I have poured myself a snifter of Cazadores Blanco and come full circle back to that roasted agave flavor that drew me to this Tequila in the first place and made me fall in love with it. As much as I appreciate all the effort and time and energy that went into creating all those aged incarnations of the this tequila, the blanco is still my favorite.
Cazadores Tequila Blanco is 40% ABV or 80 proof, is not aged, and can be found in 750 ML bottles for $21.99 to $24.00.
Cazadores Tequila Reposado is 40% ABV or 80 proof, is rested in virgin American oak barrels for 2-11 months, and can be found in 750 ML bottles for $25.99 to $33.99.
Cazadores Tequila Anejo is 40% ABV or 80 proof, is aged in American oak barrels for at least 12 months, and can be found in 750 ML bottles for $39.99 to $41.99.
Cazadores Tequila Extra Anejo is 40% ABV or 80 proof, is aged in American oak barrels for at least 3 years, and can be found in 750 ML bottles for $63.99
By George Brozowski