Tequila is one of the more highly regulated spirits on the market. To be labeled “Tequila”, a spirit must be made from Blue Webber Agave grown in Mexico, and distilled and bottled in a small set number of regions, with the majority coming from Jalisco, Mexico. Each bottle of tequila has a unique number on it called “NOM” which lets you know exactly which distillery manufactured it. Because there are a limited number of distilleries located in approved tequila producing areas, some distilleries manufacture spirits for a number of tequila labels. For example, NOM 1416 is the distillery where Tequila Avion is manufactured, and it’s also the same place that makes Clase Azul Tequila and George Clooney’s Casamigos Tequila. This doesn’t mean that Avion and Casamigos are the same tequila, because the styles, manufacturing techniques, and source of the agave plants can be radically different from brand to brand, even if they are produced at the same “NOM”.
In general, brands select a single distillery to work with and they use that brand’s NOM on their bottles. Tequila ArteNOM, from Las Joyas del Agave, is unique in that it draws tequila from several different distilleries, acting like a curator and showing off the “house style” of different distilleries. ArteNOM also showcases the different characteristics that agave has when grown at different altitudes, which is often referred to as tequila’s highlands and valley (or lowlands).
Tequila ArteNOM Seleccion de 1580 Blanco Tequila (40% ABV / 80 Proof, NOM 1580, $49) – ArteNom 1580 Blanco Tequila is made from agave grown at 6,200 feet, one of the higher elevations where agave is grown, putting this tequila in the highland’s class of spirit. The nose of ArteNOM 1580 Blanco is reflective of the high altitude grown agave, with rich roasted agave notes in the nose along with ripe pineapple, salt, light cinnamon, subtle green jalapeño pepper, and dill. The entry captures the roasted agave from the nose which integrates rich roasted agave flavor, ripe pineapple, and banana with spicy white pepper and a touch of jalapeño. It’s a good amount of flavor and complexity right out of the gate and the flavors are balanced very well.
In the midpalate, some of the sweetness from the entry subsides and we see an increase in the white pepper spice as well as a boost in jalapeno and the introduction of cinnamon spice. The banana note from the entry is still very much there, but in the midpalate it’s much more of a supporting flavor. Things also start to really dry out in the midpalate and we get a little lime added to the mix as we head toward the finish. The finish is fairly dry and slightly spicy. It flirts with being overly dry but it feels more like a stylistic choice rather than a flaw.
ArteNom 1580 Blanco Tequila does a nice job of balancing the rich, sweet fruit notes you often see in higher elevation grown agave with some of the spicier and slightly vegetal tones. The finish is a little drier than we prefer, but it’s easy to overlook given the finesse and balance presented with the rest of the flavor experience.