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Tequila/Mezcal Reviews

Tequila Tapatio Excelencia Extra Anejo

This reminds us of...

The warmth of a beloved family friend’s house you visit every so often.
Try this if...

You like bourbon whiskies with vanillic, cinnamon spices, but are keen to explore more of the fruity, agave flavor profile.

Pssst, did you know...

This bottle was never meant to be released for sale, and was actually privately reserved for the distillery owners’ visiting friends and family.


Think back to the last time you hosted friends or relatives at your place. Would you consider yourself a good host or hostess? Did you perhaps brew them a pot of tea, or serve them a platter of fruits. 

Whatever the case, I’ll bet you can’t top the Camarena family.

Who’s the Camarena family you ask? They are the family that has owned the La Altena Distillery since its opening in 1937 in Jalisco, Mexico. For a time, they had painstakingly produced and aged a private batch of high-quality Extra Anejo tequila that was never actually meant to be sold, but instead, reserved for the enjoyment of friends and relatives that dropped by to visit them. Talk about being a Hostess with the Mostess!


The entrance of the La Altena Distillery. (Image source: Tequila Source)


Inevitably then, word of this private batch of joy juice spread. And soon, the Camarena family found themselves fielding requests from importers keen to bottle some for sale in the United States. They eventually acquiesced, releasing a first lot of tequila that was aged for four years in virgin American oak casks – called Tequila Tapatio Excelencia Extra Anejo.

What bottles were released to market were promptly sold out. Which, of course, only increased demand for more.

Eventually, the distillery rolled out a second lot with some slight tweaks. Instead of virgin oak casks, this expression was poured into the same barrels used for the prior batch, before being aged for five years. After that, the tequila was transferred to glass jugs and rested for slightly over a decade, a time intensive process that allowed that flavors imparted from the oak to meld and develop before bottling.


Tapatio tequila aging in barrels. (Image source: Retire Early Lifestyle)


While I myself haven’t tried the first batch, I’m told that the second batch of Tequila Tapatio Excelencia Extra Anejo is an even more improved version of this expression, with a stronger, riper agave influence. Today, I have before me one such bottle from this batch, and I’m excited to try this for myself!

A quick note on Tapatio. It was one of the early brands that championed 100% agave tequila when it launched in 1940. Note that official regulations governing tequila production can be a tad misleading, allowing brands to have 2% non-agave sugars in the mix while still qualifying to label their tequila as “100% agave” products. (Click here to read find out why “100% agave” tequila matters). Yet despite this allowance, La Altena Distillery has a respectable commitment to never adding any additives to its Tapatio expressions.

Let’s dig in.



Tequila Tapatio Excelencia Extra Anejo - Review


Appearance: The bottle itself is really pretty! Note the dancing man and women on the bottle label, a cool homage to the Jarabe Tapatio, a Mexican hat dance originating in Guadalajara, Jalisco.

The colour of the tequila itself is burnished gold, reminding me of pancake syrup.


Nose: There’s a punchy fruity aroma of pineapples and agave that emerges on the first whiff, but this recedes quickly as stronger notes of caramel and vanilla come to the fore. On the backdrop, a light buttery scent lingers. These aromas integrate well, reminding me of a pineapple upside down cake.



Surprisingly, despite the deep vanillic, caramel notes, it still smells very bright and fresh, without as much oakiness as I had come to expect from extra Anejos.


Palate: The texture is fairly light-bodied and only slightly oily, yet the flavours are very rich. I get initial sweet notes of vanilla, butter, and honey. There’s also some cinnamon and bittersweet dark chocolate notes.



On the first sip, this tasted quite similarly to a classic bourbon, but then slowly… slowly… I start to notice this delightfully tingly sensation of black pepper on the tongue that is quite unique. This is complemented by lashings of fruit notes like pineapples, apricots and oranges that weave in at the end.



The bright spiciness of this tequila is remarkably well balanced and harmoniously integrated with the richer, deeper notes of vanilla and butterscotch. It’s nice to see the agave influence still making itself known, and not getting drowned out by the oak’s influence. A truly spectacular tightrope walk!


Finish: Long, with the lingering taste of pepper balanced by slight notes of toffee and nuts.


Our Rating


This bottle surprised with its complexity of flavors, as if pulled out from a magician’s hat. Bright crisp fruity notes were remarkably well juggled against the richer oak-imparted notes of vanilla and caramel. A bottle you should set aside to share only with your inner circle.