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Tequila/Mezcal Reviews

Tasting Through 3 Tequila Herradura Expressions: Reposado, Plata and Añejo


 

Nestled amidst the rolling agave fields of Jalisco, Mexico — the birthplace of Tequila — is the humble Herradura distillery. The brand, probably most recognisable for its horseshoe-shaped label certainly has a long and honored history that many veterans in the tequila world are familiar with.

Herradura was founded in 1870 by Don Félix López. Its name means "horseshoe" in Spanish, a symbol of good luck and embodies the unwavering spirit of its founder.

Don Félix insisted on using only the finest Blue Weber agave, meticulously hand-selected at their peak maturity. Once harvested for their leaves, the core of the agave (known as "piñas" for their resemblance to pineapples) is also used to make Mosto Vivo, what agave juice is called while it is in the active fermentation process.

Herradura's agave is even cooked in the same old hand-made clay ovens the distillery has had a century ago. Slow-cooked in said ovens for 26 hours, the process is said to coax out their natural sweetness and complexity. 


 

A traditional Tahona wheel. (Image Source: Tahona Society)

 

The cooked agave is then shredded and crushed using a Tahona wheel – a large volcanic stone wheel traditionally pulled by a horse. Water is supplied by an aqueduct and mixed into the agave juice for fermentation.

Within the fermentation tanks, the yeast and mosto combine over the course of three days before being ready to be distilled into tequila. Following fermentation the tequila rests in stainless steel tanks or oak barrels, depending on the desired expression, after which it is then distilled in copper stills.


 

Herradura casks in their barrelling room. (Image source: Tequila Herradura via X)  

The tequila is then barrel-aged for the desired amount of years in 55-gallon charred American White Oak barrels, before being bottled and sent out to spirit drinkers throghout the lands.

The Camarena family became custodians of Herradura in 1931, maintaining the time honored traditions until beverage giant Brown-Forman acquired the distillery in 2007.

With almost two centuries of history honing their craft, let's see if Herradura's tequila holds up to its popularity.

Herradura Plata - Review

Herradura Plata is its minimally aged offering. "Plata" also means silver in spanish, a reference to "unaged" tequila. Such tequila also goes by blanco or white tequila.

According to regulations in Mexico, tequila labeled as "plata" or "blanco" cannot be aged for more than 60 days. This particular offering was aged only for 45 days. After distillation, it's either bottled immediately or rested in stainless steel tanks for a very short period to allow some settling. 


 
 

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Clear

Nose: Cooked agave, pepper and citrus hits the nostrils on the first sniff. After letting it sit for awhile, I detect a faint earthy aroma. There is some of that spirit-y quality on the nose that evolves into sweetness toward the end.

Palate: Naturally, a very strong agave that stays throughout the sip. Lots of pepper notes and a saltiness that keeps rearing its head. A little bit of sweetness that is underlaid by a faint vanilla and an even fainter oak that is barely even there. There's a thin outline of citrus around the edges of the palate. Has a fairly dry, oily mouthfeel.

Finish: Short to medium. In rapid succession, agave, pepper and citrus fade quickly in that order. Some saltiness that I got still remains throughout, staying on for the finish. It ends on a light sweetness.


 
 

My Thoughts:

Strong in cooked agave, pepper and faint citrus notes, it has every familiar characteristic of a good, standard tequila. This makes a solid everyday pour - sippable with a good mix of flavours.

With its simple yet potent flavors, this is a fairly versatile tequila perfect for sipping neat, on the rocks, or as a base for classic cocktails like margaritas or palomas. For those seeking a pure and unadulterated tequila experience, Herradura Plata is certainly another reliable choice.

Herradura Reposado - Review

Launched in 1974, Herradura Reposado has the prestige of being the world's first commercial Reposado. It is aged for 11 months in Herradura's oak barrels and has clinched awards for Herradura, the most recent of which is the coveted Master Award in the 2024 Tequila & Mezcal Masters competition.

 

 

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Light gold

Nose: Cooked agave, but now they mingle with warm, inviting hints of vanilla and caramel, followed closely by a stronger citrus presence. Also notable is a fruity sweetness that I would say is a mix of crisp apples and banana hard candy, leading to an earthy note and just the slightest hint of oak.

Palate: Cooked agave comes on for a quick hello before fading into a smoky note with hints of caramel and burnt butter. A much stronger vanilla note is present. The peppery note makes an appearance in the middle, tapering off into that familiar earthiness, now with a stronger citrus note. Pretty good mouthfeel that is just a tad more bodied than the Plata.

Finish: Medium, but just a little more than the Plata. A quick vanilla presence accompanied by a flash of smoke. Some cinnamon before it recedes into faint oak and that citrus-earthy flavor of charred oranges. Not nearly as much spirit-y bite here, instead mellowing out gently on that last note.


 
 

My Thoughts:

The age on this definitely adds a bit more complexity to this offering as compared to the Plata. More notes and transforming flavors made this pretty enjoyable.  It certainly gives more in the way of nuanced layers from the nose, to the palate, and finally to the finish. It does a wonderful job of retaining its agave core while showcasing its other aspects. I still maintain that it has good versatility, and perhaps even more so than the Plata. It continues to be a good mix of a sipping tequila as well as a cocktail mixer, allowing a good amount of flavors to entertain for both. 

Herradura Anejo - Review

We come to the oldest of the lot with the Herradura Añejo. Aged in American White Oak barrels for 25 months, this offering is their second-most-aged one in Herradura's main lineup. There's a Herradura Ultra Añejo that's far less commonly sighted that extends the Herradura lineup. 


 
 

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Amber

Nose: Again, cooked agave with vanilla. Although I must say this expression has the strongest vanilla note of the three. A slight spirit-y note that develops into a brine underlaid by just a little earthy floralness. Hints of dried fruit, like raisin or date, peek through the layers. There's that oak note there present in the previous two offerings, but in this the spice is clearly more pronounced. 

Palate: The age on this surely makes a difference as compared to the previous offerings. A very strong vanilla entrance paired with cooked agave. The grassy, earthy note pops up as it hits the roof of your mouth, before quickly subsiding into a peppery caramel note. I find myself reminded of freshly baked bread. Toward the end, I detect traces of butter that ramp up and subside in equal measure, punctuated by spice and a slight spirit-y quality again.

Finish: A medium-long finish that does rounds around your mouth. Definitely more punchy compared to the other two. There's a little almond-like bitterness that trickles down before ending in a mix of smoke and vanilla.


 
 

My Thoughts:

Overall the most complex of the three. Has more dimensionality than the Plata, while it's uniformity between the nose and palate outshines the Reposado. Essentially, this tequila offers a complex and rewarding experience that surpasses its younger siblings. This expression would be wonderful neat, and especially for less experienced tequila enthusiasts looking to delve into the world of aged tequila expressions. There's a lot going on, but at a pace good enough so that you won't be overwhelmed. The flavors pair well with each other and come in more than equal servings. 

To sum up:

Tasting the flight of Herradura's in successive ages was definitely an interesting exercise in seeing how the flavours build off of each other with age, deepening and taking a richer turn. They offer quite the spectrum of flavours and textures to tantalize your taste buds, each expression delivering a distinct experience.

I found them all to be rather versatile, fit for both sipping neat and cocktails. They all delivered their flavours well, and in big and bold fashion, which inclines me to think of them as a solid pick for a daily pour for Tequila-heads. To that end, my favorite of the three would be the Plata. In an uncharacteristic moment for me, I enjoyed greatly the simplicity and crispness of the unaged tequila.

It's something that is certainly refreshing for those that have been drinking aged spirits for a while. This offering truly provides all the flavors and force of an unaged tequila, and I feel like I get the full package even if without some of the flavours that come with ageing. It's a sort of "back to basics" moment that I do recommend, and new drinkers will certainly appreciate it too.
 


Lok Bing Hong A budding journalist that loves experiencing new things and telling people's stories. I have 30 seconds of coherence a day. I do not decide when they come. They are not consecutive.