It wouldn’t be the week of Cinco de Mayo if we didn’t taste some new tequila, would it? Although the traditional Mexican spirit remains one of the fastest growing and most buzzed-over segments of the liquor industry, there’s no denying that Cinco de Mayo is essentially the focal point around which the “tequila year” revolves in the U.S. Like St. Patrick’s Day for Guinness, there’s no other time when so many eyes turn toward the ever-growing spirit of tequila. And hey, we’re always happy for an excuse to taste some new brands.
Today, we have two bottles in front of us from Pasote Tequila—a brand that has been in the U.S. market for a couple years, but has seen a recent rebranding. The Pasote brand was created by August Sebastiani at the El Pandillo distillery, located in the Los Altos region of tequila epicenter Jalisco. It’s an “ultra-premium” tequila lineup competing for top shelf placement in the U.S. market, with SRPs between $50-70 for the core lineup (blanco, reposado, añejo), plus an extra añejo brand with a eye-popping $190 price tag.
El Pasote particularly differentiates itself via its ecological water sourcing, in which a large portion of the distillery’s water is in the form of captured rainwater from the roofs of the El Pandillo distillery, with the remaining water from natural springs. This use of rainwater in particular is considered a crucial element in the minerality present in Pasote tequilas, which are otherwise produced in a very traditional manner—cooked in traditional brick ovens, crushed via tahona, fermented in stainless steel and double-distilled in copper pot stills before the aged brands spend time in used American oak. No modern trickery here.
So, let’s get to tasting this blanco and reposado, and see how they compare.
Tequila Pasote Blanco unfolds with a crisp nose dominated by freshness, herbaceousness and pure agave. There’s salinity/brine present, and a touch of grass, and some of that rainwater minerality, but the most enduring notes are all agave—fresh agave nectar, sweet roasted agave, etc. It very much evokes the source of the spirit. Unlike some of the other blancos I’ve been tasting lately, this one isn’t particularly fruit forward on the nose, instead hewing into greener flavors and pure roasted agave.
On the palate, this is unexpectedly a bit on the sweet side, full of agave nectar that is balanced by more resinous green notes and pink peppercorn spice. Again, it doesn’t really evoke the citrus that many tequilas seem to be trying to embrace right now—rather, it has almost a slightly nutty sort of sweetness, with a pleasantly earthy tone. It drinks effortlessly neat, although a bit more proof might help it stand out loud and proud in a cocktail setting. Regardless, this is a very pleasant showcase for the distillery’s traditional techniques and the quality of their agave on a base level. It’s not the most complex blanco I’ve tasted in recent memory, but there’s no flaws to it.
Reposado tequila is of course the most lightly aged (“rested”) of non-blanco tequilas, with a minimum aging period of two months and a maximum of one year. We’re guessing that Pasote favors the shorter period, or simply doesn’t interact that deeply with the oak, as this is quite a lightly colored reposado—very pale yellow in the bottle, and almost clear looking in a tasting glass.
On the nose, however, Pasote Tequila Reposado is revealed to have undergone some evolution nevertheless. There’s more savoriness here now, with the agave notes having taken on a more roasty and succulent quality. It has become toastier, with a kettle corn-like sweetness, coupled with peppery warmth.
On the palate, more fruit is now emerging, with bright grapefruit and roasted orange. Salty-sweet grass and sweet agave make this quite pleasant and a bit more rounded than the blanco, ably creating a delicate balance between elements of spice, sweetness and salinity. Like the blanco, this drinks very nicely neat, with a restrained ethanol presence that is appropriate for the low 40% ABV (80 proof), and as I often think when I’m drinking reposado, I’d like to see this one in a classic margarita. But hey, that’s what Cinco de Mayo is for.
At close to $60, this is definitely premiumized territory for reposado tequila, but Pasote reveals its lightly aged product is a quality spirit that is easy to enjoy.
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.