Tequila Corralejo claims to be the first commercially produced tequila in Mexico, and it’s one of the few that hails from outside Jalisco.
Classification reposado tequila
Company Infinium Spirits
Distillery Tequilera Corralejo S.A. de C.V. (Guanajuato)
Cask charred American oak
Still Type copper pot
Proof 40% ABV
Aged 4 months
Awards Gold, 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition
One of oldest legacies among tequila labels, and one of the few produced outside Jalisco that are available in America
A unique product at an affordable price point
Attractive bottle design looks great on a home bar
Some experienced tequila drinkers may find it lacking in complexity
Lingering alcohol and vegetal notes may not appeal to some
Color: Light straw/gold
Nose: Right up front, you encounter a clean, herbaceous agave character, defining the glass in hand. Another pass, and you’ll get a slightly astringent medicinal note along with soft green fruit, unripe peach, and a hint of caramel. Vanilla and honey are present, but not in the overwhelming way they appear in many recently launched brands.
Palate: It opens round and silken with just a hint of an alcohol or oak bite and a wisp of stone fruit. At the mid-palate, it is light-bodied, especially for a reposado, again with agave leading, overlain with pineapple and a hint of brown sugar. As you swallow, it’s once again pleasingly mellow and silky, exhibiting slightly sweet agave notes, perhaps even sweeter than expected.
Finish: A lovely long finish of spice, herb, oak, jalapeño, and alcohol. Some may find the final astringent and alcohol notes a little off-putting, but for some they will be reminiscent of agave fields outside of the state of Jalisco, where unusual flavor profiles abound.
Distilled spirits in some form or another date back, in Mexico, almost five hundred years, with the arrival of Spanish conquistadors and Filipino sailors. Fermented agave in the region goes back centuries or millennia more among various indigenous peoples. We modern-day drinkers are the beneficiaries of both cultures, but it can sometimes be difficult to suss out heritage vs hype. In the case of Tequila Corralejo, there is a significant amount of heritage involved. The distillery sits on the historic Colonial Hacienda Corralejo in the Pénjamo municipality in the city of Guanajato, one of the few places outside of the state of Jalisco where tequila can be legally produced. Though the brand we recognize is relatively young (relaunched in 1994), there is documentation of tequila production at the Hacienda by 1755, and it claims to be the first commercially produced tequila in Mexico. The brand uses estate-grown agave, and even its signature blue bottles are created in a factory not far from the distillery.
All that is to point out that there is a lot behind this $30 bottle, more than one might pick up from a first sip. It’s clear from the initial sip to the long finish that this is an intentionally produced tequila, but in an era where we’re awash in high-quality and super premium labels, Corralejo may seem somewhat less complex than its more-modern competitors. Add to that its adherence to the old French style of open-flame double distillation in copper-pot stills (in Cognac, it’s called the Charentais method) which can produce a slightly brasher, more herbaceous product than column stills (the first distillation run is in a column still). The result is such that first-time drinkers may be underwhelmed drinking this product neat. They shouldn’t be.
Your first hint that there is more to this tequila than meets the eye is how it evolves on both the nose and the palate. Agave dominates (as it should in a proper tequila) and because it’s an agave grown outside Jalisco, you may find scents and flavor notes you’re less familiar with: jalapeño, apricot, pineapple, additional herbaceous notes. Your next hint is when you drop the reposado into a cocktail: Here, the product shines. Whether it’s a more-complex Margarita driven by fruits beyond lime (think mango, papaya, or pineapple), or in place of rum in tropical drinks, the reposado plays beautifully with other ingredients. Consider this tequila your first baby step into a broader range of Mexican agave spirits.
Note: There is a surprising amount of conflicting information online about production details for the reposado. Infinium’s website says agave is slow-cooked in clay ovens, while other sources cite autoclave steam ovens used for a faster cook. In Mexico and the U.K., a slightly different version of the reposado has been sold (at least until recently) at 38% ABV rather than 40, and aged in a combination of American and French oak. While that may not seem like a lot, it appears that the flavor profile at 38% is slightly more complex and intriguing, with a little more vanilla and herbaceous notes. Also, there is yet another version of the reposado (which some people have reviewed online) that is triple-distilled rather than double-distilled.
The second distillation takes place in an old-school alembic copper pot still from Tomelloso, Spain.