One of the most sought-after specialty tequilas, Tears of Llorona, is available in Oregon.
Master Distiller Germán Gonzalez of Tequila Uno creates some bold and flavorful iterations of agave spirits from the Atotonilco area of Los Altos. The mountain-grown agave Gonzalez uses tends to be fat, rich, silky and floral; to accentuate that nature Gonzalez carefully selects only the ripest of the agave plants, according to the method taught by his father (who was the founder of Chinaco, one of the first ultra-premium tequilas). Gonzalez likens his technique to selecting ripe bananas, where the brown and black spots indicate prime ripeness.
After processing the large, juicy and ripe piñas, Gonzalez double-distills his tequila (he maintains that a triple-distillation would eliminate too much flavor from the finished spirit) and begins the maturation process.
For his masterpiece, Gonzalez selects the best of the fermented mosto, then the best of the finished distillate, and separates it into three different barrel regimens: used sherry barrels, Scotch barrels, and French Limousin Cognac barrels.
After five years of aging (the category of Extra-Añejo requires only three years of aging, but Gonzalez over-delivers for his finest tequila), the three barrel regimens are judiciously blended for Tears of Llorona.
“This is a sipping tequila of the highest order — a rich, complex liquor
that’s more like a high-end scotch or cognac.”
From the beginning, Gonzalez intended Tears of Llorona to be a limited release “small batch” tequila; thus its immediate success in the market created an almost instant shortage, which of course drove further demand. Although it’s not in plentiful supply, Tears of Llorona is available in Oregon state stores, and reports have emerged indicating Gonzalez is ready to release a second batch shortly.
The entire “Extra-Añejo” category for tequila is quite new, with the tequila governing body, the CRT, recognizing it only in 2006. Casa Herradura was first to release its “Seleccíon Suprema de Herradura Extra-Añejo” to great acclaim, choosing to feature the subtler, more-refined and delicate oak expressions while retaining the original agave aromatics and flavors.
Other producers have chosen to go more boldly into the expression of oak maturation With Tears of Llorona, Gonzalez has opted to push the envelope as far as possible towards oak influence, using the triple-barrel regimen in much the same way Single Malt Scotch Whisky does with their proliferation of barrel types combined with blending and further barrel finishing to create specific taste impressions.
The Tears of Llorona is quite comparable, in that sense, to The Macallan Sherry Oak. The Balvenie Triple Wood, Auchentoshan Three Wood and other single malts with the focus as much on the aging vessel as the whisky inside. The question has always been whether tequila’s agave base is substantial enough to maintain its essential nature under the influence of such aggressive barrel maturation.
While Tears of Llorona is most certainly not a traditional light-bodied and herbal/pepper-focused tequila, it does maintain identity of its agave source. The focus, however, is clearly and deliberately on the expansive sweet aromatics of the maturation process and the unique flavors that each of the barrel regimens adds to the impressive complexity of the final blend.
Chewy, densely textured, with sweet sherry wine, vanilla-oak, soft caramel, toffee, solid notes of whisky and lashed with baking spices, Tears of Llorona is expansive and mouth-filling, with a long, long finish.
Suffice it to say that Tears of Llorona is unlike any other tequila you’ve ever had. Whether that is a positive or a negative is entirely dependent on each individual’s preferences.