Review: F&J Chinaco Teardrops
Updated: Jan 21, 2021
Context:1985: Importers, Robert Denton and Marilyn Smith, released a 4 year anejo (rumored to be a 5 year). It was a statement piece: Chinaco 4 yr. "Ribbon" distilled in the late 1970s. A bona fide ethusiast product at a time when tequila in the United States was dominated by mixtos and lower quality products (prior to 1982 only Herradura and Sauza distributed any 100% agave tequila stateside). Denton and Smith had a clear vision of where they were taking the brand. The first to market tequila served in a brandy snifter, they challenged and redefined the perception of tequila north of the border. After Chinaco stopped exporting in the late '80s, Denton and Smith collaborated with Carlos Camarena on the El Tesoro line that also utilized both high quality agave and traditional production methods (I'm a GIANT Tesoro fan). By 1993, Chinaco was again distributed in the US. In 1996, the bottles shifted to these teardrop bottles from the old paper labels.
The key to snagging quality vintage Chinaco is having a bottle distilled by German Gonzales. The easiest way to determine that is by importer. Anything with Robert Denton's name on it - good to go. Anything imported By Fielding & Jones - good to go. Anything imported by Priess is a crap shoot with "Lot M" being the theoretical cut off point.
Chinaco Reposado - NOM 1127 - Fielding & Jones RK - 40%
Nose: Fruity and mineral driven up front. Lots of barrel char on the nose. Plenty of earthy notes. Along with all that - leather, damp basement, dried roots. Marshmallow. Vanilla bean. Lemon.
Flavor: Soft caramel swirls. Berries before vegetal and old oak notes dry it out.
Palate Structure: Delivers a full and expressive experience top to bottom. It’s a soft, slow finish that mostly extends the palate and maintains great clarity.
Alcohol Integration: Gets a little prickly at the very tail, but it delivers full flavor through and through.
You’d Dig This If You Like:
The Real McCoy 12 (Barbados Rum)
Score: 7 (Highly Recommend) A bold tequila with an old school profile. Doesn't drink light on body or flavor. I've sampled one reposado from an earlier lote than the one above. That was a top 5 tequila pour for me so these Teardrops are buy-on-sight bottles.
Chinaco Anejo - NOM 1127 - Fielding & Jones AJ - 40%
Nose: Floral vanilla. Minerality. Orange zest. Barrel char - pretty much identical to the above just a little deeper and more clear.
Flavor: Bright on the palate. Candied lemon. Vanilla. Berries and cream. Stone. Oak shows up mid-palate, but the barrel definitely hasn’t taken over here. Dry and earthy into the finish.
Palate Structure: Surprisingly light on entry but it builds in layers and intensity. Great range from sweets to high-toned notes. Similar to the repo, but everything is dialed in a notch or two. Transitions are easier than the repo as well. But the repo is a little more bold and dynamic.
Alcohol Integration: Feistier than most 80 proof distillates in the best possible way.
You’d Dig This If You Like:
Dusty Bourbon (Old Bernheim, 86-90 proof)
15+ yr. Malt (unpeated, 90-100 proof)
Score: 9 (Stash Two) Both of these are great. Vanilla notes are fantastic, the kind I get in dusty bourbon (Old Bernheim distillate). The dry notes balance things without veering too dry. Low proof doesn't hurt this one at all.
10 - Reevaluate My 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: Mucho Agave