Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Herradura Bringing You Tequila in a Can
Herradura, the 140-year-old tequila now owned by Brown-Forman, will be blanketing the U.S. with some new products over the month few months, some artisanal and craved by aficianados, some low-brow and craved by party girls, and one practical and craved by anyone with a sweet tooth.
On my recent trip to Mexico, I was tipped off to bring home some of Herradura's Antiguo line of tequilas, told they couldn't be had in the U.S. Little did I know that the Antiguos had started creeping into the States late last fall. They're not yet in New York, but will be soon.
The line was created in 1995, and differs from the Herradura tequilas and Herradura's entry-level El Jimador line in three ways. One, it's first distilled in pot stills, then column stills (the Herradura and El Jimador are twice pot-still-distilled). Two, it's aged slightly longer than the El Jimador, but spends somewhat less time in barrel that the Herraduras. More critically, after the second distillation, Antiguo undergoes a carbon filtration, the liquor sent through coconut shells.
As someone at the tasting I attended commented, the wine-bottle-like packaging seems to indicate Herradura is after the female market, and the smoothness of the product, a result of the filtration, tells me they want to capture the vodka drinkers. That said, there's no denying this is a fine group of tequilas, particularly the rounder Reposado, which has flavors of caramel, coconut and pineapple, and the Anejo, which is a full, fruity specimen, with cantaloupe, vanilla and toast tastes. The Antiguos are priced around $29-$39 each.
The new practical item of Herradura's own agave nectar. Agave nectar is everywhere these days, preferred to simple syrup by some bartenders, and poured by consumers over everything from cereal to pancakes. (Amusingly, there is no market for this stuff in Mexico.) Herradura's version is darker and denser than most, and very nice indeed.
And then there the New Mix line. Folks, there's no other way to say this. It's tequila in a can. Actually, tequila cocktails in a can, with an alcohol content of 5%. There are three flavors—Margarita, Spicy Mango Margarita, and Paloma—and Mexicans love this stuff already. In the last ten years, four and a half million cases moved. The cans, which have labels that make them look like soda from a distance (except for the mark at the top of the can that says "21+"), will be here before summer.
Herradura freely admits the target market is women. They're not bad, even if you feel kinda low-rent drinking them. The best is the Paloma. The Paloma is Mexico's favorite cocktail: tequila and Fresca, with a squirt of lime. Since soda pop is already involved, this drink is easily replicated in a can.
It's easy to look down one's nose at the New Mix drinks. But, truth be told, if I was invited to an outdoor barbeque, and I saw a bunch of New Mix on ice in metal bucket, I'd reach for one.