Discovering 100% Tequila
Tequila is pretty awesome. I’ve known that since the days at UMass Amherst. Only, back then, Tequila came with a lime, lots of salt, and usually a pretty big headache the next day. But hey, the college days are about experiencing what the world has to offer- right? Fortunately, as we mature, so does our taste.
That old Tequila from UMass gave us such awful headaches because it wasn’t 100% Tequila. That “gold” liquid had extra sugar and other additives to give it color and “aged” flavor. They may have called it gold, but gold it was not.
There are strict standards under which Tequila obtains a “golden” color. Tequila is literally one of the most regulated spirits in the world. As the only producer of Tequila, Mexico takes great pride in their prized export. To be stamped Tequila, distillers must produce it in the Mexican State of Jalisco, and parts of the states of Michoacan, Guanajuato, Nayarit. Tequila must also contain at least 50% of the Blue Weber Agave plant. Anything else is either Mezcal, “Gold,” or simply not 100% Tequila. That UMass Tequila was Tequila, just not 100%.
Over the years, I realized the difference between inferior and quality Tequila. The difference is one you can sip, and the other you need to lick salt and suck on a lime to get through it. Sure, the ceremony is a little fun. But, the point of drinking should not be to “get through it,” but rather to enjoy it.
In fact, a smart woman recently shared her thoughts with me on spirits, “We are meant to enjoy alcohol slowly and moderately. Its purpose is to relax guests and stimulate conversations.” That was “sort of” the goal of the UMass Tequila only we lacked the moderation and pacing. And we certainly were not appreciating the quality of any liquor.
These days, not only do I appreciate the taste of fine spirits (especially Tequila) but also the process by which they are made, and the care and pure love distillers add as that extra special ingredient to craft a premium product. Codigo 1530 Tequila has all of that- a highly regarded process, quality ingredients, attention to special details like using charred award-winning Napa Cabernet French White Oak barrels for the aged expressions, and most importantly passion!
Codigo 1530 Tequila
I love a good story. As part of The Haute Life’s motto, I also love finding a good story driven by following one’s passion. These two loves, plus my love for Tequila have recently merged into a perfect trifecta of good vibes.
During a recent trip to Arizona, I devoured a fabulous dinner at Charro Steak in Tucson, along with the dinner came great conversation from the owner, Ray Flores, and his lovely wife, Sasha. Ray heads a number of other restaurants including the famed El Charro Cafe, which is nearing its century-old birthday! Needless to say, this guy knows good food and good Tequila.
Aware of our love of that liquid gift from the Blue Weber Agave, he recommended we try a flight of Codigo 1530. Sure! We’re always game to try new Tequila!
Codigo 1530 Flight at Charro Steak, including the Blanco, Rosa, and Reposado.
All of the Tequilas were wonderful. But, the one that caught my eye, and taste buds was a pink Tequila! A Rosa Tequila right before the start of rosé season? Holy Moly Batman, it’s time to have a party! I made sure to pick up a few bottles before the flight home.
I learned a lot more about the Codigo 1530 brand that night. It wasn’t just the pretty pink Tequila that made me fall in love; it was the story about the passion behind the Codigo 1530 brand that made it special.
For five generations, this Tequila was made for private consumption by a few select families in the state of Jalisco. With a great passion for the National spirit, the families supported a local artisan distilling family in the city of Amatitán to make the unlabeled private Tequila. Crafted from the best blue weber agave, with volcanic filtered pure water, and yeast from a local baker, for all involved it was a labor of love. The families would go to the distillery and fill up beautiful glass bottles with this premium Tequila. For generations, bottles of this hand-crafted Tequila punctuated family celebrations. It was that beautiful spirit that relaxed guests and eased everyone into the conversation.
All good things can’t be kept secret forever. When you taste the Codigo 1530 Blanco, the quality and purity of the agave and 100% Tequila flavor is both obvious and glorious. Eventually, the opportunity for the families to bring the product to market presented itself. After consideration, they agreed. However, one doesn’t give up the quality of a passion too easily. If the Tequila would be sold, it needed to stay true to the “Codes and Customs” of not only the original recipe, but also the values the families held dear. This is what the Codigo means – Codes and Customs. A Tequila that stays true to its passion? How can I not be into that?
The 1530 in the name signifies the year when Amatitán gained its independence from the Spanish monarchy. The Jerusalem cross on the bottle represents the code of arms given to Jalisco in 1530. Speaking of the bottle – it’s a looker.
I love the hand blown glass, cross imprints on the front and bottom, and the simple small label that allows you to see the Tequila. I’ve saved a couple to use as water bottles for dinner parties. On the front of the label, you can read the product is 100% Agave Azul (blue agave), as well as the 40% alcohol volume required by the United States. On the back, the NOM of 1500 proves it is a certified export of Mexico.
The more I learned about the custodians of the family recipe and Codigo 1530, the more their passion has become mine! There are five different types; Blanco, Rosa, Reposado, Añejo, and Origen (extra Añejo), shown in that order in the following photo.
Now that Codigo 1530 is available in Massachusetts, I can enjoy all of them! For you, Tequila novices here’s a quick run-down on each “expression” as Codigo 1530 calls them.
Codigo 1530 Blanco
The families use only fully-matured Blue Weber Agave and are using up to three times the standard of agave juice to produce 1 liter of Tequila. (I’ll save the nerdy details about the Blue Weber Agave and Codigo 1530 Distillery process for another article). The big point here is the sugar content, or Brix Level meets an exceptionally high standard of 32. Other Tequilas get up to about 15. This contributes to the sweet agave forward flavor of the Blanco. The Codigo 1530 Blanco is unrested, to preserve the pure quality of a 100% Tequila.
Earthy, mineral character that balances the citrusy sweetness beautifully.
Codigo 1530 Rosa
Here is where I fell in love. Not only had I never seen anything like the Codigo 1530 Rosa, but I had also never tasted anything like it. There were the same candied citrus qualities of the Blanco but followed by lovely and soft floral notes. This is created not by adding rose petals, but by aging the Blanco in uncharred Award-Winning Napa Cabernet French Oak barrels. In that short period of contact with the inside of the Cabernet staves, the edges of the Tequila profile are rounded, giving it a unique flavor. I’ve already paired it with a shrimp dish, ceviche, and enjoyed it in a Negroni and a peach cocktail.
Leads with bright agave character and finishes with the soft floral notes of Cabernet.
Codigo 1530 Reposado
The word Reposado means rested or aged. The Codigo 1530 Reposado is the Blanco, only it is aged in charred award-winning French Oak barrels for six months. This is the way Tequila should get a golden color.
The distillery uses the staves from the Rosa barrels to char the French Oak barrels. An important distinction between French and American Oak is the type of grain. French Oak has a tighter wood grain than American. All wood “breathes” or expands and contracts ever so slightly during atmospheric changes. During aging, the alcohol flows in and out of the wood during these “breaths.” Because the French Oak is a finer grain, less of this pass-through occurs, preserving the agave flavor. I really enjoy it with a simple twist of grapefruit.
Bright, sweet agave notes with the added complexity of vanilla, toasted caramel, and subtle cocoa powder.
Codigo 1530 Añejo
Here’s where things start to get really good. If you like whiskey or scotch, you’re going to dig the Codigo 1530 Añejo. Aged for 18 months in the same barrels, it makes for a perfect after-dinner drink. I love it with a little dark chocolate dusted across the rim. So decadent!
Refined, elegant and expressive – hints of fruit, mingled with oak, touches of vanilla and a bit of spice.
Codigo 1530 Origen
Now, this one is for all of you spirit aficionados. An extra Añejo Tequila must be aged for three years or longer. The Codigo 1530 Origen (extra Añejo) has been aged for six years! That is one of the longest aged Tequilas on the market. It’s those French Oak barrels that allow the Tequila to spend so much time thinking about what it wants to become.
What it does become is an exceptionally exquisite spirit. One where every sip should be savored. First, there is a hint of the Tequila, followed by warm oak. Then a little spice tingles the tongue. A gentle wave of vanilla balances all of the different flavors. Actually, this might be my new favorite. But then again, I do tend to lean toward the finer things. 😉
Aromas of spice, vanilla, caramel and sweet oak that lend to a robust palate teeming with flavors of dried fig and cinnamon.
If you plan to celebrate National Tequila Day, do yourself a favor and buy a quality brand, like Codigo 1530. Just make sure whatever you do buy is 100% Agave Azul. Also, the price point does matter. Cheap Tequila is just that.
However you celebrate National Tequila Day, do it with style!
Tequila Codigo 1530 is now available at these Massachusetts Liquor Stores:
Dover Wine Company
16 Springdale Ave
Dover, MA 02030
The Wine Cellar of Stoneham
85 Cedar St
Stoneham, MA 02180
RWJ Beverage (Located In BJs)
6 Hutchinson Dr
Danvers, MA 01923
Hatches Package Store
133 Orange St
Nantucket, MA 02554
Gordon’s Liquor Stores
39 Temple Pl, Boston, MA 02111
894 Main St, Waltham, MA 02451