Updated: Jan 22, 2021
I love knocking around liquor stores looking for dusty/treasure bottles, but there is a downside: passing up contemporary bottles that are just as good (if not better). Fortaleza is a prime example. It's crazy I don't have one open right now even though I'm likely to recommend it to someone looking for a bold, traditional blanco. That said, these two blancos aren't standard shelf grabs. Lote B-16 is highly regarded among aficionados as one of their most impressive lotes to date. B-100 sources agave from the highlands rather than los valles and is bottled at 40% still proof (no water added before bottling). I've been looking forward to this side-by-side.
Fortaleza Blanco - 100-B - NOM 1493 - 40%
Nose: Green/cocktail olives. Brine. Honey. Glue. Background tropical fruit/pineapple.
Flavor: Fruity, briny, minty. Complex sweet/savory interplay. Salted caramel. Tropical fruit. Olives of course. Drops some of the complexity in the finish, but it’s clean.
Structure: Balanced and round, unfolding in soft waves.
Alcohol Integration: These low distillation proof blancos are aces for me (Yeyo, El Tesoro Olive Oils).
Score: 8 (Stash One) Doesn't have the clarity of Calle 23 Criollo or Fuenteseca 2013, but the body/mouthfeel is bigger and more than compensates. Delicious crusher.
Fortaleza Blanco - 16-B - NOM 1493 - 40%
Nose: Bright, mineral driven. Mint. Melon. Dry earth. Honeydew. Brie after the nose opens. Not as expressive, but more defined.
Flavor: Balanced/controlled. Bright fruit, minerality. Pear. Honeydew. Blackberry (a first for me in tequila, I get this note in MGP and Four Roses V yeast bourbon). Olive/brine pops mid-palate. Earthy waves in the finish. Late spearmint.
Structure: Structure is unreal. Slow. Slow. Slow. Slight kick mid-palate. Multiple long waves in the finish. Impressive.
Alcohol Integration: Punchy mid-palate where it needs to be. Zero heat. Still long and complex.
Score: 8 (Stash One) Clarity, palate, and finish out perform 100-B which is, however, more bold and rich. Can't go wrong with either, but I'll give the slight edge to that fat palate on the 100-B.
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Hampden Estate 46%
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 - Anything Else To Drink?
2 - Nothing Nice To Say
1 - Drain Pour