Aiyeeee! It’s about time! TABASCO® Spicy Tequila is here! I consider myself very fortunate to share with you my thoughts on this unique spirit.
The word Tabasco is synonymous with “hot” and “spicy”. It is one of those products like Coca-Cola that has become such an integral part of Americana that when someone says “give me some Tabasco”, we reach for the nearest hot sauce. The same thing happened with Coca-Cola. When someone asks you what do you want to drink and you reply, “Just give me a coke”. You actually mean, soda. It doesn’t have to be a cola, either. You see, a brand like this never dies. You can put that brand name and logo on anything and it will sell. For example, there have been Coke jeans, shirts, ties, coasters, etc. Tabasco has done this as well including various other flavors of hot sauces, barbeque sauces, Bloody Mary mixes, and even ties. I own quite a few myself. In fact, my kitchen is decorated with Tabasco art. Marketing, however, does not make a good product. It sells product. Fortunately for us, a brand like Tabasco doesn’t appear on anything that doesn’t reflect the same quality that the makers of Tabasco, the McIlhenny family, have committed themselves to for over one hundred years.
Tabasco was developed and made by Edmund McIlhenny some 140 years ago. Since then, the product has been sold in nearly every corner of the world. In April of 2009, the McIlhenny Company received the Royal Warrant for Tabasco, which can now appear on each bottle produced, as an award of excellence for supplying either HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, or HRH The Prince of Wales with the goods or services. You may have seen this seal on another product which is Laphraoig 10 yr. Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
Tabasco to me, brings into mind things of the present, from the artwork on my walls to the ties hanging in my closet to the bottles of fiery red pepper sauces in my refrigerator. It also brings to mind things of my past–my childhood in South Lousiana, where some of the relatives of the McIhenny’s lived next door to me, the field trips I went on as a child to Avery Island where Tabasco is made, and the pride I have in Louisiana as the birthplace of a brand that is famous throughout the world. I was simply thrilled to hear that there was a TABASCO® Spicy Tequila. Considering the fact that one of the most important steps in making the pepper sauce is the aging of pepper mash in whisky barrels, it seems as if it was destined to compliment spirits. Also, considering the pepper species used to make TABASCO® pepper sauce comes from Mexico and Central America, that it would compliment the agave spirits of Mexico.
Now we should get something straight. Tabasco Tequila is not made by the McIlhenny Company. It comes from a source that you know well in the spirits business, Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., who have among their brands names like Rittenhouse Rye, Evan Williams, Christian Brothers, Hypnotiq, and Two Fingers. The folks at Heaven Hill worked very closely with the McIlhenny family however, in the production of TABASCO® Spicy Tequila. Yes, it is REAL tequila, made in Mexico, as all tequila must be.
I received for National Tequila Day two bottles of TABASCO® Spicy Tequila from the good folks at Heaven Hill. Upon opening the packages I noticed that the tequila in the bottle has a golden-reddish hue about it. The label had the diamond-shaped Tabasco label on it with flames coming out of it. The label said “Premium gold…Hecho en Mexico”. These statements tell me two things. First, the tequila is a gold tequila, which means it is a mixto, which contains tequila plus other colorings and spirits. Secondly, it was in-fact genuine tequila, made in mexico. Being a mixto however, I knew it probably wasn’t as smooth as other 100% Agave tequilas. I knew it would be best when mixed in cocktails. I admit, I was a little scared to drink it, afraid I’d be getting a snoot-full of hot pepper and sending myself into a fit of coughing and sneezing. I’ve read a lot about pepper extract, and was concerned that this tequila may have too much heat.
The promotional materials found on the website at www.tabascotequila.com, state:
Created from premium tequila flavored with the authentic and iconic TABASCO® brand pepper sauce, TABASCO® Spicy Tequila is the unique and perfectly balanced infusion of authentic premium tequila with the hot, spicy and bold Tabasco kick. TABASCO® Spicy Tequila offers a new twist on shots and traditional cocktails like the margarita.
As a shot or in a cocktail, TABASCO® Spicy Tequila will… heat up the night.
Well, now, that’s marketing, right? How does this stuff really taste? Hold on a minute…let’s not put the cart before the horse, okay? Smell has everything to do with taste. I don’t care what your mother told you. If it smells bad, it probably tastes bad. I don’t know anyone who can separate the two, except maybe Andrew Zimmern. So, let’s start with smell.
Upon pouring a sample, I smelled at first the familiar tequila smell–cooked agave, citrus, and a hint of spice. I also smelled a slight twinge of Tabasco smell. Fortunately, I did not smell vinegar, which is a huge component in the pepper sauce.
The taste was much of the same as the smell–hints of agave, pineapple, citrus, pepper, and a familiar Tabasco heat. The alcohol burn was there too, but only on the front side, near the tip of my tongue. A medium-bodied spirit, the finish of this tequila is a little sweet with a pepper bite at the end.
As much that is said for mixtos being inferior product, this one is not. This is a good spirit, well-distilled and balanced. It tastes like tequila, but with a bite at the end. If you swirl this stuff around awhile, you’ll get a bit of that pepper burn all over your mouth, but not in a way that you cannot stand it. I don’t think I could sit around and sip this, as I would an aged tequila, but can definitely see it in cocktails. I made three total for this review– a Martini-style drink, a Margarita and a Bloody Maria.
Creole Tequila Cocktail by Jeff Johnson
1 1/2 oz TABASCO® Spicy Tequila
1 1/2 oz Martini and Rossi Dry Vermouth
3 dashes Fee Brother’s Orange Bitters
Stir with cracked ice until ice cold
Strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a green pepper
This drink worked out extremely well. In fact, I think it is the best of the three in showing the true flavors of the spirit and allowing for the peppery hot finish. As I said earlier, the pepper burn is definitely there but not so much as to affix a “not for wusses” warning label on the glass.
Margarita Bites Back by Jeff Johnson
2 oz TABASCO® Spicy Tequila
1 oz Grand Marnier
1 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Agave Nectar
Shake with Ice Vigorously
Strain into small glass with salted rim
Garnish with Lemon or Lime Wheel
If you’re brave enough, eliminate the Agave Nectar altogether or cut back on the Grand Marnier. While definitely a margarita, the tequila and it’s bite don’t show through as much as I’d like. Still, you get that little bite at the end, though.
2 oz TABASCO® Spicy Tequila
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 pinches or very healthy shakes of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
2 turns of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
6 oz V8 Juice
Build over ice in mixing glass and roll ,Strain over ice into highball glass with salted rim
Garnish with Green Olives, Cocktail Onions, and Green Pepper
Shake a little Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning on the surface
This is a variation on a classic Bloody Mary recipe. Notice I left the TABASCO® Pepper Sauce out. I wanted to see if I got any heat from the TABASCO® Spicy Tequila itself. I got very little. You must remember it is hard to overpower the flavors of tomato, Worcestershire and black pepper. While this is a good Bloody Maria recipe as is, I personally like additional pepper and spice to my Bloody Mary drinks. So, consider this drink a work in progress. I have some good ideas that just haven’t worked themselves out yet. Can you say pico de gallo, salsa, mexican spice and heat?
I recommend TABASCO® Spicy Tequila as a great mixer/shooter tequila. If you haven’t planned one yet, why not throw a big LSU football tailgate party with TABASCO® Spicy Tequila? What could be more Louisiana?
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