Let me start this article with both a rant and a rave.  First the rave: I have recently noticed that distillers of virtually every kind of spirit are actually getting much better at producing a better product.  I mean they are creating smoother and tastier and more complex spirits than they ever have.  They are truly mastering the art and science of distillation.  Now the rant: the same enlightened people take their products to places where no one should go. 

Take the example of Grey Goose Vodka, one of my all time favorites.  Their simple and straightforward vodka is delightful in every respect and you would have thought that would have been good enough, but no. Now, they have a handful of flavors, some of which are quite good and some of which never should have seen the light of day.  Other vodka producers now carry lines of over 25 flavored vodkas, most of which are truly horrible.

In this particular case, tequila has always come in three traditional varieties: silver or Blanco, the white un-aged type, Reposado which literally means rested and aged a minimum of two months but less than a year and Anejo aged a minimum of one year but less than three years.  These three categories were expanded in 2006 to include a fourth, Extra Anejo which is aged a minimum of three years.

You may notice that the only difference between these types is the length of aging and not flavoring or any other form of hocus pocus.  This has kept the tequila category simple and true to its origins.  Well, all that has begun to change.  Now there are Agave Nectar Liqueurs and even Avion, of all people, has come out with espresso tequila, where will it all end?

Avion tequlias

Don’t get me wrong; I really like Avion Tequila.  Avion Anejo is pale gold and has been aged in oak for two years. The first sniff is complex and reminiscent of a fine old cognac. The aroma is a mix of vanilla and oak heavy with agave and backed by sweet fruit possibly a pinch of peach. On the palate, it sits calmly conveying that agave and oak. At that point, it provides a sense of sweetness rather than a taste of sweetness that’s subtle yet rich and thick. It is a warmth waiting to explode in sensual spice and potent yet pleasant pepper the moment it is swallowed. Now, that’s what I call a magical transition that would make even David Copperfield proud. The finish is long and fruity and spicy and I dare say would compliment a fine cigar nicely. It is almost cognac like in its finish. Nice work Ken; you’ve done it again. It’s around $55.00 per 750 ml bottle, which is just about the price point for a decent little cognac, and I might add should be consumed just like a decent little cognac, in a snifter straight up.

Avion Sliver has a very clean nose with little or no alcohol up front like lesser blancos/silvers. It could be that super slow filtration at work. The nose is full of fragrant roasted agave up front. This is the first time I have ever been able to discern “roasted” agave in any Tequila. I’ll bet this is the work of those Vestal Virgins! That is then followed by subtle hints of vanilla and faint citrus ending in a pineapple up note, very mellow and very inviting. It lays in the mouth quietly like a Ninja assassin preparing to strike unseen in the dark. As I swallow, the mouth feel is warm and syrupy and sweet agave creeps forward and then backs off again leaving restrained citrus so vague as to be unrecognizable. The finish is pleasantly smooth, and if this were in fact a ninja attack, the assassin would be singing Roberta Flack’s “Killing me Softly”. The finish rapidly transforms into spicy pepper that is balanced and mighty tasty, but then again I like spicy food. Curiously, it leaves the roof of my mouth a bit numb, which is very interesting and entertaining. This is mighty fine Tequila and a bargain at $45.00.

The Avion Reposado is a very pale golden color and straight in the bottle has the very distinct aroma of roasted agave, hints of oak and vanilla and no alcohol fumes to distract from the nose.  In the snifter the nose mellows and softens a bit with the agave front and center followed by faint citrus notes and a touch of the oak.  On the palate, this tequila is quite gentle and warm and slightly oily and really lets you taste the agave but it is in no way overpowering. Following the agave are the citrus and vanilla and hints of caramel and a touch of oak.  It gently warms the mouth without being aggressive or harsh.  The finish is short and sweet and smooth leaving the slightest tingle.  This is very, very nice tequila.  For about $40.00 per 750 ml bottle you are getting a super premium tequila that is well worth it.  Whatever you do don’t make margaritas with this stuff, it’s just too good by itself to dilute in a cocktail.

These are all superb tequilas, so  I think I won’t jump to conclusions and be objective and hold out my opinion and hope for the best about their espresso tequila until after I’ve tried it.

Well, then, let’s get to it.

With great trepidation and, in the immortal words of the great author extraordinaire Hunter S. Thompson, with “fear and loathing”, I turn to the Avion espresso liqueur to see what kind of fame or folly Avion’s founder, Ken Austin, has wrought. 

The bottle is a dark coffee colored brown with contrasting white lettering.  In the bottle, all I can smell is the espresso, an inviting espresso aroma, none the less, with a hint of sweetness and so little agave that it is almost not discernible.  However, it definitely smells like a liqueur and is very reminiscent of Kahlua. In the snifter, the espresso scent and sweet chocolate flavor come forward followed by the slightest nuance of agave.  On the palate, the sweetness and espresso really come forward even more followed by chocolate and vanilla.  Finally, in the finish, the agave comes forward and I can really taste it and it is delicious.  Needless to say the finish is smooth and sweet and lasts a while.  On the rocks, the sweetness backs off leaving the espresso and chocolate forward. And you know what? I’d pour this over vanilla ice cream and be in 7th heaven.  OMG, I like this stuff!!  Good job Ken!  At around $20.00 per 750 ml bottle this espresso liqueur won’t break the bank and would make a fine addition to any bar.  Buy it and play with it and see what taste treats you can come up with.


By George Brozowski