There is a multitude of new brands of tequila on the market, and while many are quite good, an equally large number will not survive the harrowing first five years in business. Like a brilliant spark, they become but a flash in the pan. Contrast this with a company like Casa Centinela located in the Highlands of the Los Altos region just outside of Arandas. They have been making tequila for more than a century in the same location. The family-owned and operated distillery enjoys a legacy of success and has amassed the largest cellar of aging tequila in the world—more than 56,000 (200 liter) barrels. If you're looking for a range of tequilas with lineage and pedigree, then take a long look at Centinela Tequila 100% de Agave.
The mature agaves used to make Centinela Tequila are grown in the red, volcanic soil of the Arandas Highlands. As you'd expect of a century old distillery, Casa Centinela relies on traditional production techniques long discarded by other suppliers as too costly or labor intensive. After harvesting, the agaves are brought to the distillery where they are placed in clay ovens and baked for 48 hours. The first pressing of the agaves is carried out by by two large stone wheels. The collected juice—referred to as aguamiel or "honey water"—is transferred to vats where they are allowed to slowly ferment over the course of 3 to 5 days. Naturally occurring, airborne yeast is used to precipitate fermentation. Afterwards the fermented wash—referred to as mosto muerto—is twice distilled in a stainless steel pot still with copper coils.
One of the surest ways to assess the quality and character of a tequila is to sample the unaged blanco expression. Such is the case with Centinela Blanco Tequila 100% de Agave, which is bottled fresh from the still. The tequila is crystal clear with a satiny textured, medium-weight body and a generous nose saturated with the aromas of tropical fruit, anise, black pepper and baked agave. The blanco's captivating bouquet lifts it heads and shoulders above the crowd. Its palate features the flavors of pears, plums, pineapple, anise and dried herbs. The lingering finish is smooth and flavorful.
Centinela Reposado Tequila 100% de Agave is aged in charred, American white oak barrels for just under a year. During its extended stay in wood, the tequila develops a dark, amber/golden hue, a velvety, medium-weight body and a wafting bouquet of fruit, vanilla, cinnamon, almonds and floral notes. The reposado's gentle entry quickly expands filling the mouth with the bakery-fresh flavors of cinnamon, vanilla, caramel, nutmeg and toasted oak. It has a long, dry and slightly spicy finish.
The elder statesman of the range is Centinela Añejo Tequila 100% de Agave, a noble tequila barrel-aged just under 3 years in American white oak. It has a deep, lustrous amber/golden hue, a full, curvaceous body and an alluring nose redolent of cinnamon, caramel, anise, herbaceous agave and wafts of flora and toasted oak. The tequila's aromatic signature alone makes it well worth the purchase price and an ideal choice for serving neat at the end of a fine dinner. Its palate is a flavor extravaganza of honey, toffee, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, plums and toasted oak. The finish is long and satisfying.
Centinela Tequilas enjoy tremendous creative latitude behind the bar. They're aromatic, flavorful and reasonably priced. Although perfectly suited for use in mixed drinks and craft cocktails, do yourself a favor and first taste Centinela Tequilas neat. Their beauty is best appreciated served alone in a glass.