For a generation of bartenders and drink enthusiasts, 1800 Tequila introduced us to the concept of trading up to the good stuff. The iconic brand preceded other top-shelf entries and helped usher in a new age of contemporary cocktails. The standard bearer of the famous range is 1800 Reserva Añejo 100% Agave Tequila.
These 100% agave tequilas are produced in the town of Tequila and were named to commemorate the year tequila was first matured in oak barrels. The range is double-distilled from mature blue agaves before being transferred to French Limousin oak and American white oak barrels for aging. The 1800 Reserva Añejo is matured more than a year primarily in French oak with a small percentage coming from ex-bourbon barrels. The tequila is bottled at 80 proof.
Acclaimed 1800 Reserva Añejo has a dark amber hue, an oily medium weight body and the aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa and roasted almonds. Its enticing bouquet serves as an ideal entree for what follows. The tequila quickly fills the mouth with a generous offering of spicy warm flavors that include dried herbs, toffee and butterscotch. The añejo has a dry, lingering finish laced with black pepper and wisps of charred oak.
The oldest and best-known member of the portfolio is 1800 Reserva Reposado 100% Agave Tequila. The tequila is aged for 6 months in French Limousin oak and American white oak barrels. It has a shimmering gold/copper appearance, a medium-weight body and a citrus zest, butterscotch and slightly salty bouquet. The palate is an assortment of flavors ranging from roasted peppers, dried herbs and cilantro to vanilla, caramel and cinnamon. Its finish is long and flavorful.
1800 Silver 100% Agave Tequila is a delicate and highly versatile spirit aged 15 days in oak for a spot of wood finishing. The tequila is crystal clear with a satiny lightweight body and floral, black pepper and lush fruit bouquet. It bathes the palate with a satisfying array of green peppers, spice, butterscotch and vanilla. The finish is semisweet and slightly spicy.
The newest member of the range is 1800 Silver Select 100% Agave Tequila, an exuberant blanco barrel-aged for 15 days and bottled at 50% alcohol by volume (100 proof). Why the elevated proof? The higher the alcohol concentration means that less water is used to dilute the tequila to its bottling strength. The result is a more flavorful spirit. Crystal clear Silver Select is indeed prickly warm on the palate, but as that subsides you'll be rewarded with waves of peppery herbal flavors. The finish is clean and satisfying.
One of the brand's enduring contributions is the creation of the Cadillac Margarita. The classic cocktail debuted in the early 1980s and is prepared with 1800 Reposado Tequila, Grand Marnier and sour mix. It was the first variation of the Margarita to make the big time and started the now well-accepted practice of upgrading the quality of spirits in cocktails. After all, why drink an uninspired Margarita when there's 1800 on the shelf? Salud!