Most Extra Añejo tequilas are a great place to start if you don’t already consider yourself a fan. They’re much richer, palatable because of the time they spend in oak barrels (40 months in this case) and are closer to a fine scotch or bourbon.
Atelier Del Maestro is an extraordinary sipper with rich, warm caramel and vanilla flavours. It reminds me of a certain voice actor I know.
The price is not for the faint of heart. At the moment the best price I’ve seen is 3400 pesos or $150US through Amazon Mexico. This is especially one to look for at a larger grocery store the next time you travel to Mexico.
I can recommend a ton of less expensive tequilas to get started with that are similar in flavour but with a much better value. In fact in the same family, Maestro Añejo is brilliant.
I’ve got good news and bad news about this tequila. Here’s the bad news, and I share this with you knowing full well you might run screaming. Maestro tequila is Cuervo product. As in Jose Cuervo. As in the abomination from your 20’s you swore you would never drink again. The good news, the Atelier and all the Maestro tequilas are miles ahead in comparison. Think of Jose Gold as that clown at spring break who tries to get you drunk so he can take blackmail photos of you, and Maestro as that classy uncle who would prefer you don’t visit.
I was introduced to Maestro (Añejo) by a good friend from Mexico City while we were both living in Vancouver, Canada. He gave it to me as a gift for MC’ing their wedding and I’ve been recommending it to people ever since. It’s readily available almost anywhere. I’ve since owned a dozen bottles of each of these (except Humito) and they are a perpetual favourite for anyone new to tequila.
Let me say, you’re never going to enjoy tequila by going cheap. It can be a dilemma. You don’t want to spend big dollars on something you’re not sure about. Añejo tequila is a little more expensive, but it’s warmer, sweeter flavour will allow you to appreciate where it’s going. Do yourself a favour and don’t buy the blanco because it’s cheaper. Those who truly love tequila will have more of an appreciation for the complexities of the agave, but it definitely going to be more alcohol forward. The beauty of and aged tequila is that it replaces some of the boozy, sinus-clearing qualities with the gorgeous flavours pulled from the wood it has aged in.
This is a Cuervo meant to be sipped. Maestro is the Mexican JC’s premium brand. There are 6 different ages/types:
- Blanco: Young. Stronger Alcohol Flavour
- Repsosado: Medium Aged. Hints of vanilla but still true to the agave flavour
- Añejo: Definite recommend. Warm, vanilla and caramel flavours from the oak barrel
- Dobel Diamante: Clarified añejo. Take the previous tequila and clarify it making it even more smooth. This is a new class of tequila ever since Don Julio 70
- Humito: Strong and smokey. This is the blanco version that’s has been smoked. Reminiscent of mezcal.
I’ve mentioned 5 of the 6 types, but there is an elusive 6th, which leads me to the main character of this post. The ATELIER DEL MAESTRO. The Extra Añejo tequila member of this brilliant family. It will catch your eye with its one of a kind, hand painted bottle. This will also add to the price tag, but Cuervo has made this into a bottle to be cherished. It’s not an overly aromatic tequila, but the oaky, caramel and vanilla flavours are incredible. It will leave the taste of baking spices like cloves in your mouth for a couple minutes.
I bought 2 of these bottles on sale 3 years ago and sadly finished the last drops with good friends a few weeks ago. This is a tequila to bring out after you land a big client or get rid of a pain in the ass client.
I recognize, not everyone is going to run out and buy a $150 bottle of tequila if their only experience has been tainted by a hugging-the-toilet event after vacation shots. But in fairness, this is nowhere near what you can spend on a bottle. There are however some equally impressive tequilas to be had for a fraction of the cost. Except in Canada, where for some reason, we’re relegated to the weakest of selection.
Here are a few recommendations for those venturing back into the agave world on a reasonable budget.
- Either the Maestro Añejo or Maestro Dobel: The same tequila, just aged for less time. In the case of the Dobel, this is their answer to Don Julio 70. In my opinion it’s better
- Don Julio Añejo: If you want to compare apples to apples with something you can find in most parts of the country, DJA is a winner.
- Milagro Añejo: Here’s a good budget option. Lots of the warm caramel and fruitier tastes that will get you interested.