4 Copas “Sea Turtle” Blanco - NOM 1457 - 40%
Context: This is the first installment in a unicorn review series compliments of Machelle Usherr-Davis. The goal was to explore high quality blancos (although some bucket list aged expressions worked their way in as well). At this point, I have a better understanding of what I'm looking for when it comes to aged tequila. I'm less confident in what I'm looking for with blancos. I know I don't want additives. I know I want to taste the agave. I know I like complexity and weight on the palate. But I don't have a broad working knowledge of possible profiles. My favorite blanco expressions to date have been Calle Criollo 23 and El Tesoro Plantinum B-103Xs (I've had a few in this lote range that were great). What those had in common were lighter flavors and aromas (florals, fruits, minerality) with notes boldly and clearly expressed.
This 4 Copas blanco has a few unicorn check marks. Firstly, it's part of a special run of bottlings that began in 2008 to commemorate a Mexican symposium on sea turtle research and conservation. Proceeds went to Seaturtle.org. Secondly, it was distilled at the old NOM 1457 (La Quemada). Around 2016, production moved over to NOM 1480. Things are a little tough to pin down after the move. The 4 Copas website credits Master Distiller, Sebastian Melendrez, as creator. But that's buried deep and not obvious, giving the vibe that Melendrez may not be closely involved anymore. While at La Quemada, Melendrez was working on multiple brands (including 4 Copas) - this was after leaving Herredura during the Brown-Forman aquisition. By 2019, his name was front and center in the promotion of a new brand, Santera Tequila, marketed with language geared toward the sustainability and minimalism crowds. But there was no mention of his history with the certified organic brand at 4 Copas. Also interesting is this passage from the 4 Copas website, "Hector decided to make his own, and the first batches were not up to his exacting and entrepreneurial standards." One has to wonder if this is a reference to original production at NOM 1457.
Let's see if this old-school pour is up to my exacting standards.
Nose: The nose is soft and baked. Baked Cheddar Pringles potato chips. There’s quality soft cheeses in there too - but man is that Cheddar Pringles note strong. Haven’t had those in years. Not smoke, but there are some spicy grilled notes - almost BBQ. It’s got some good funk and stink to it (in the best possible way). Small whiff of pot still phenols - plastic and gasoline. Big fan of everything going on here.
Flavor: Agave. Baked potato chips again. Light florals and minerality. Softer baked/sweet notes in the finish. Not overly complex, but very enjoyable.
Palate Structure: Soft up front. Florals lift things mid-palate. Finish is clean with some pleasantly bitter vegetal notes to keep it from being flat. Overall body is fat and round.
Alcohol Integration: Great texture and weight. Crystal clarity to the notes on the nose and palate. Finish could use some length. Palate could be a little louder. Nitpicking here.
You May Also Dig:
Mezcal - tobala, very light smoke influence
I get a very potato forward vibe with some of these tobala like older Del Maguey Tobala and El Jolgorio - love 'em.
Score: 8 (Stash One) Tons of character here - unique profile. I don't usually get those oily pot still plastics in tequilas. Here they were subtle and added depth to the baked notes. Definitely one of the earthier blancos I've tried. It's my new benchmark for that style.
10 - Reevaluate The Budget
9 - Stash Two (If Able)
8 - Stash One (At The Right Price)
7 - Highly Recommend It To Strangers
6 - Solid - Above Average
5 - Acceptable For The Situation
4 - Not Vocally Complaining
3 - Wish I Was Drinking Something Else
2 - Nothing Nice To Say
1 - Drain Pour
Sources: NOM 1457