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Review: El Tesoro XA

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

El Tesoro XA Lote EA-001 - NOM 1139 - 40%

Context: When you love something, fear of change is totally understandable. We can all name brands that have changed ownership, changed production methods, hell, even just changed their labels and instantly been criticized for ruining a good thing. At this point, change in the world of spirits is virtually synonymous with cost cutting and a reduction in quality.

I love El Tesoro tequila. Many of their older bottlings got me serious about tequila and remain among my all-time favorite spirits - period. When I heard that they were adding a new addition to their core line-up, I was both excited and skeptical (because change). I am a huge fan of Paradiso. So I worried supporting another full-time XA might strain aged stocks. I was also worried that the profile would get further away from the old-school cedar, mint, tropical fruit profiles that made me stockpile old Olive Oil bottles. But there was also always hope. The new reposado single barrels I'd tried were really fantastic, and Carlos Camarena has always demonstrated a commitment to quality production methods - mature agave, volcanic stone tahonas, a 48 hour slow-cook in hornos, open air fermentation in wooden vats with agave fibers (for agave forward profiles), distillation to proof (less water added, creamier mouthfeel).

This sample was a "try before you buy" scenario. Many thanks to Paul for helping me out.

Nose: More nutty and oak driven on the nose than other XA Tesoros I’ve tried. Buttercream frosting (nothing artificial). You know there's bourbon barrels in play here. Still plenty of pineapple, melon, tropical fruit kicking around. Way in the back there’s some awesome pollen/floral notes. Tons of complexity here. (I do miss the cedar and eucalyptus notes from some of the older bottles).

Flavor: Agave forward. Medium bourbon/oak influence. Fruits are less tropical and more orchard driven on the palate. Dries out pleasantly in the finish with roasty oak notes and bitter/crisp fruit skins.

Palate Structure: Big on the palate with an incredible, creamy mouthfeel. I’ve come to expect nothing less there from Tesoro. It’s a long, slow finish with some creamy vanilla adding layers below the drier notes.

Alcohol Integration: Tesoro always delivers here. Low heat, big flavor and structure.

You May Also Dig:

Cognac - 90 proof, 20+ year range, no added sugar

Jean-Luc Pasquet - Nostalgie - 45.6%

Score: 9 (Stash Two) It's a different profile than Paradiso which is a little more streamlined and dry. The XA is more rounded and full, hitting deeper notes lower on the palate. I was worried I wouldn't like it as much as some of the older stuff, but that wasn't the case at all. Instead of stashing two, I found it on sale and stashed five. Because, you know, I'm scared it will change.

Rating System

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

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