A Tequila Blog by Drew "Pale Rider" Townson

"There's nothing better than good tequila, and there's nothing worse than bad tequila," Drew Townson

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Rider Loves the New Brands!

The Rider of Great Paleness got to sip some mighty tasty new tequilas over the long, sweltering summer. They helped cool my palette and mellow me down in to those long mid-summer eves.
Here are four of my top finds:

Feeling Any Smarter? I sure am!

Calle 23 Reposado: Pale Rider savors this full-bodied repo, bursting with agave goodness! 4.8 PENCAS!

Hotel California Blanco: Made my summer both as a mixer and an ice-cold sipper. 4.5 PENCAS!

Pura Vida Anejo: As rich and smoky as the tone of Pearly Gates. 4.5 PENCAS!
Radio Pura Vida: http://puravida.mx/pura-vida-radio.html

Semental Reposado: A big, satisfying tequila.  4.5 PENCAS!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dia Nacionál de Tequila!

It's National Tequila Day once again. Seems like only yesterday it was...well. actually, it WAS only yesterday because in Pale Rider's world, EVERY day is tequila day!

Another Day in Agave Paradise. I wonder what the Cuervo drinkers are doing today. 

As we also do on St. Patrick's Day, we jokingly like to call this date, "Amateur Night," (although we really do like the theme of celebrating tequila).

No need for me to blog - there are plenty other publications writing about agave juice today. Here are a couple:



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Los Blancos Mas Finos!

Blanco, Silver, Plata, Platinum, call it what you will, we're talking today about the un-aged and un-altered clear distillation of the blue agave. Everybody knows Pale Rider is is a big blanco guy. (They don't call me "Pale" for nothin'!) At the recent Spirits of Mexico event in NYC, the new class of 2012 blancos were tasted
and rated. Click here to read all about the fresh crop!

Spirits of Mexico, sizzling new blancos...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Toro Toro! One Smooth Bull!

Semental Tequila: Get a Bull in Your Glass!

I recently read a great review of Semental Tequila on the web-site "For Tequila Lovers.com" and then, as if scripted, the very next day I was at ChiliHead BBQ and noticed they had Semental in their well-appointed tequila bar. Naturally I tried a shot - the reposado - and was VERY impressed. So then I went about getting a bottle for myself. Even with my discount through FTL, it was a pricey bottle. I later found that the price of Semental varies wildly from region to region, being as low as in the $20s in the Southwest and West, ranging to $50 up here in the distribution-challenged Northeast


Clearly, I am not the only one that likes this Tequila. Here's what the San Francisco World Spirits Competition had to say:

Semental Silver (91 Points/Silver Medal ~ Exceptional): Clear, vibrant roasted pineapple, charred green pepper, floral talc, creamy vanilla, and white pepper aromas. A lively, silky entry leads to a dry-yet-fruity, glycerous medium body of roasted tropical fruits and peppers with a layer of vanilla bean and spice. Finishes with a long, sharp white pepper, oil, powdered sugar and dried flower fade. Impressively fruity and floral agave with a somewhat rustic finish.   

Semental Reposado (93 Points/ Double Gold Medal ~ Exceptional ): Yellow golden color. Creamy and spicy aromas of sandalwood, vanilla bean, dates, dried pineapple, and black pepper. A silky and supple entry leads to a dry-yet- fruity, glycerous medium-to-full body of creamy caramel, vanilla, dried fruits, grilled yellow pepper and nutmeg flavors. Finishes with a long, exotic blend of spices, creamy vanilla, and hot pink peppercorns. A delicious and veryflavorful reposado.   

Semental Añejo (94 Points/ Gold Medal ~ Exceptional): Brilliant amber color. Grilled pineapple, creamy white chocolate, floral honey, and delicate herb and spice aromas follow through to a silky, buoyant entry leads and a dry-yet-fruity medium-full body with accents of roasted yellow pepper, sandalwood, and exotic peppercorns. Finishes with a long delicious fade of crème Anglaise, baking spices, and cigar box. A lively and flavorful Añejo that artfully balances fruity agave and spicy, vanilla kissed oak.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pura Vida Añejo: How Sweet She Is!

Of course I want to like PuraVida, with it's Texican Rock 'n' Roll mystique and my guitar-hero Billy Gibbons as its figurehead. But there's hype and there's taste. Let's get down to the reality of this juice and see if it's a Lone Star Legend or a Tall Texas Tale. 
Tejana Mama!
I've always been leary of triple-distilled tequila. It's never been my favorite. Why? Because to me 3D often tastes overly sanitized; smoothed-out; homogenized. I feel - and I am by no means alone - it removes some of the agave color and character from the juice. After all, what are we making here? Vodka? So when I saw that the Pura Vida "Silver"/blanco, and "Gold"/reposado, are triple distilled, I have to admit it gave me pause. As it turns out, in only one case did this prove to be any issue at all. 

Pura Vida Tequila's line-up of the three expressions is the story of "Good, Better, Best."

The Good - Gold: This one pretty much validates why I'm not a huge fan of triple-distilled. It's a very nice mixing tequila, and even as a sipper I'm sure many will find it quite pleasing. With the blanco's bold punch of agave (see below) I expected more from the reposado. Here are my tasting notes: Smooth and lightly sweet but somewhat meek. Cinamon, pear, a bit of vanilla, hint of wood, light mouth feel, not enough agave. Mellow. Three Pencas. 

The Better - Silver: My triple-distilled worries dissolved when I tasted PV's blanco tequila. After a week or so of decanting, I determined that the PV Silver is great on rocks, with it's clean, peppery profile. Here are my tasting notes: Herbs, white and black pepper, agave, anise seed, mint, licorice, lemon-zest, green-pepper chili-pepper, medium heat, a little bite. Overall medium bodied with warm finish. Good pop of agave. (One wonders how good this blanco would be if twice-distilled) Four Pencas. 

The BEST! - Añejo:
And what do you know, the DOUBLE DISTILLED añejo is hands-down my favorite of the three, and one of the best añejos I've tried in recent memory. Aged in spent bourbon barrels, PuraVida añejo brings to fruition the promise of an artisan-crafted highland tequila. I'm not a big añejo guy, as most people know, but I could sip this juice all night long. Here are my notes:  Coffee, molasses, caramel, vanilla, cola-nut, toasted almonds, burnt sugar, wood, smoke, and bourbon - but thankfully not overly bourbon-y. Plenty of agave left to please a guy like me. Great balance. Borders on being too sweet, but does not cross that border (pun intended). The  añejo is la crema de PuraVida, with a TASTE AS BIG AS TEXAS! Five Pencas.

Pale Rider's buddy, The Tequila Whisperer, concurs! Here's his review:

The anejo was where this brand (and NOM 1414) really shines.  There is a lush and wonderfully balanced essence in the anejo which brings forth baskets of fruit, herbs, vanilla and even traces of coffee!  This fruity and grassy herbaceous mix is a complete satisfaction event, and the price (around $40) makes this anejo a must-have in your collection.  Nice work, Pura Vida!

** He said, "lush!"

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Let's fly!

A music buddy of mine once said to me, years ago, "Whiskey sedates you; tequila DRIVES you." I agree. I like whiskey, especially Irish whiskey for it's medicinal properties, and the fact that it does, indeed, relax me. Barleycorn calms me. But tequila is a pick-me-up. It energizes me.

I tried Absinthe back in the day - lots of it - and it does this thing where you get in to this trippy ultra-clarity state. Heightened senses and all. I can see why artists got all creative while under the spell of the Green Fairy. But I hated the taste of it. Tequila does a lot of the same for me, while giving me a warm happy buzz, and I LOVE the taste of it. I'm under the spell of the Blue Agave. Love love love love. Me and my Muse Agave? True LOVE!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Checking in to Hotel California.

My new discovery! Found this at a weird little store that had virtually no tequila at all except for this one. They had all three expressions of this new-to-me juice from Highland NOM 1529. I thought to myself, "Self, this stuff could be really bad, but I always loved the song, so I'll give the blanco a whirl." Guess what? I LIKE it! It's good! (Turns out they even have a couple medals to prove it!)

It has all the sweet vanilla and spice that I enjoy in a good highland blanco. Hotel Cali is smooth with virtually no alcohol burn. And like that famous Eagles song, it takes you on a trippy ride down the desert highway at night.

Warm smell of agave...

"There she stood in the doorway. I heard the mission bell. And I was thinkin' to myself this could be Heaven or this could be Hell...."

Website: http://tequilahotelcalifornia.com/

Press Release: http://www.tequilatown.net/news/hotel-california-tequila-launches-in-us/

Review: http://thecritico.net/hotel-california-tequila/

THE BLANCO: It is clear to see that Hotel California began with a high quality Blanco. In the aroma the Blanco had strong notes of sweet cooked agave that was also noted in the Reposado & Anejo. Visually the Blanco has excellent clarity and a very good body, the taste was well balanced with notes of cooked agave, with a light spicy-peppery warm finish. The Alcohol content was stronger in the aroma but not in the taste or finish.
Hotel California Blanco Tequila: RATED 90 Points

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tequila Don Diego Santa Añejo - rich and chocolaty!

From For Tequila Lovers.com

Skinny bottle, fat taste!

In 1943, the Santa family established a small tequila distillery in Guadalajara, Mexico. Since then this is where Tequila Don Diego Santa is produced, using a multiple distillation process and small batch pot distillation. The family grows their agaves at higher than normal altitudes for 8-10 years, until they acquire the desirable sugar that allows for maximum fermentation by natural yeasts that come from the same fields where the agave plants are grown. After harvesting and cooking the agaves, the nectar is then extracted and double distilled for absolute purity by slowly cooking the Blue Agave in small batches, one small batch at a time, in stainless steel pots. This is without question a more expensive and time consuming process, but the payoff is worth it...a truly wonderful tequila that is the spirit of Mexico. Don Diego Santa Anejo is aged fora minimum of twelve months and is blended with tequilas aged far longer in American Oak barrels. The final blend averages at least 18 months of aging. It is then bottled at 40%ABV and is certified as Kosher.

  Buy me!


Brilliant old gold color. Vibrant roasted pecan pie, dark chocolate, baked fig and peppery spice aromas follow though on a round, oily entry to a dryish medium body with prominent cocoa and roasted nut elements supported by creamy vanilla and pepper. Finishes with pleasant cigar box, cola nut, and peppery spice fade. A nutty añejo treat.