Updated: Jan 21, 2021
Context: If you're into spirits, your ears probably perk up when discontinued brands, changes in production methods, or mothballed distilleries are mentioned. Finite supplies, the chance to taste history - it's all very romantic and sometimes it even lives up to the hype. When it comes to tequila, one of the most prized facility shake-ups comes compliments of NOM 1079. The facility was used by several beloved brands - 1921, Aha Toro, Frida Kahlo, Oro Azul, and Don Alejo to name a few. Most of what was coming out of the facility involved old-school methods like estate grown agave, tahonas, hornos, and copper pot distillation. When the facility switched NOMs to 1580 (~2010) for tax purposes, many brands were either discontinued or moved production to other facilities with different methods. (Great write-up on 1921s experience with that HERE at The Tequila Tracker). When the dust settled, the general consensus was that some of the previous magic was lost. Today, it's all but vanished with only Herencia Mexicana (from the old guard labels) listed as active from the original facility.
There were still some 1079 bottles gathering dust in Chicago when I started exploring tequila about a year and a half ago. I bought the hype hard and picked up what I could. Many of those 1079s became my benchmark tequilas. In particular, the 1079 Oro Azul Reposado remains one of my favorite reposados and tequilas to date.
These three (Aha Toro, 1921, Frida) were some of the more premium labels released under 1079. They come compliments of Machelle and David as part of my Unicorn Blanco series.
Aha Toro Blanco (Lot 130) - NOM 1079 - 40%
Nose: Bright with citrus and minerality. Some baked chestnuts. Faint black pepper. This is the earthiest and spiciest of the bunch. But that’s not saying much - all of these have lively bright notes.
Flavor: Not overly complex but very inviting. Mineral driven - dry and light. Citrus. Anise.
Palate Structure: Soft to open but wakes up with plenty of action mid-palate through the finish. Long finish. Bringing waves of stone and black pepper and minerality.
Alcohol Integration: The mouthfeel is full and the palate structure is very active. The alcohol is doing what it's supposed to.
Score: 7 (Highly Recommend) Hard to argue with this one. It won't win any awards for complexity. But it is extremely well made and enjoyable.
1921 Blanco (Gen. 3 Lot 87)- NOM 1079 - 40%
Nose: Peaches. Caramel. Apples. Wow. Outstanding. Lime. There’s some soft cheese hanging around. This puts the other two to shame (and the other two are very good). The juice has some color to it - which I know happens from the corks from time to time. But how is this not a repo with that rich a caramel note?
Flavor: Beautiful honey on the palate. Caramel apples again - wow that note is gorgeous. There’s pleasant fruity bitterness - apple/pear skin. Dries things out and reset the palate perfectly. Just a touch of licorice toward the tail. Peaches and cream too in the finish - back to fruit skin. This thing just doesn’t quit.
Palate Structure: Unreal. Every note takes a moment to deepen and slowly unfold. Very patient, rich pour.
Alcohol Integration: Spot on. Nothing to say.
Score: 10 (Reevaluate The Budget) Expressive, complex. It's weighty. The structure is deep and rewarding. It also happens to be right in my wheelhouse with all the fruit and cheese and caramel.
Frida Kahlo Blanco - NOM 1079 - 40%
Nose: Refreshing and simple. Back in the light and bright camp. Honeydew. Cantaloupe. Soft florals. Mineral driven again like the Toro.
Flavor: Big fruit. Melon and lime. Licorice. Light herbal bitterness. Faint industrial notes around the finish - rubber/plastic.
Palate Structure: Super soft and delicate. Things are very soft and linear into a little pop around the licorice and phenols in the finish. The finish is cleaner than the Toro, but also less exciting.
Alcohol Integration: It’s too rich and delicious to drink “flat” but the structure is less interesting than the others.
Score: 6 (Solid) This reminds me most of the 1079 Oro Azul blancos that I've tried. While the reposado is one of my favorites, the Oro Azul blanco was very soft and light like this Frida. I could use a layer or two more to keep me engaged.
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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