Updated: Friday, 29th May 2020 @ 6:20am

Scorpion with your tequila, sir? The Liquorists host I'm a Celebrity-inspired bushtucker trials at Manchester tasting

Scorpion with your tequila, sir? The Liquorists host I'm a Celebrity-inspired bushtucker trials at Manchester tasting

By Patrick Christys

Reserve Bar played host to The Liquorists for an evening of Don Julio tequila tasting enthused with creepy crawlies à la I’m A Celebrity.

At first it seemed too good to be true; three shots of Don Julio’s Blanco, Reposado and Anejo tequila greeted the victims, sorry, samplers.

James Hill, brand ambassador for Diageo Reserve, explained the subtleties of the various tequilas on offer.

The Blanco, being the youngest, was the sharpest on the pallet. This was followed by the Reposado, which is aged in American bourbon barrels giving it a darker colour and fruitier flavour.

And last but not least the Anejo was served, having been stored in oak barrels for 18 months before bottling it is the oldest, darkest and sweetest of the Don Julio tequila family.

Alas, the civilized spirit supping was in fact too good to be true.

A competition not dissimilar to a bushtucker trial ensued whereby Mexico’s most famou export was paired with some of the nation’s equally infamous insects.

The twelve contestants, myself included, took our places at what came to be known as the table of horrors.

On the count of three the napkins covering the plates were whisked away revealing a delectable feast of crunchy critters, the likes of which one would normally expect to find under a log in a Mexican forest.

Dune Beetles, chicatanas, escamoles, cumiles and ahuatle were suddenly on the menu. Not heard of them either? Lucky you.

CRUNCHY CRITTER: First bug delicacy on our plates

The rules were simple; James Hill made it abundantly clear that anything that used to be alive must be eaten. Great.

The first four to finish went through to the semi-final, then the last two intrepid bug-crunchers quaffed some scorpion with the winner receiving a free bottle of Don Julio 1942.

Fittingly the only liquid the contestants could use to cleanse their pallet was tequila which, for some people, was as bad as the bugs.

One thing struck me as I welcomed a june beetle into my mouth – the crunch was deafening.

This was shortly followed by the sense of wonderment that something so small could taste so vile.

Upon first impact with my molars the bug shattered into a million pieces which, despite remaining in my teeth for several hours, made it easy to wash down quickly.

And so this daring MM reporter made it through to the semi-final.

Spurred on by an overwhelming competitive streak and an unquenchable desire for a free bottle of luxury tequila, an air of optimism overcame me.

However that was quickly crushed by the unappealing prospect of eating a bug kebab followed by a grasshopper.

A STING IN THE TAIL: Finalists had to chomp down on this (not so) little fella

My pallet was offended on two counts – firstly, everyone knows that the correct etiquette is in fact to serve the grasshopper before the chicatanas kebab but secondly, and most importantly, the taste was unimaginably bad.

Chicatanas are essentially giant ants, they have many legs and it felt as though all of them were clinging to the roof of my mouth.

A very public, prolonged and embarrassing wretch ensued, and the competition was lost.

The eventual winners had to overcome a feast of scorpion and giant water bug chilli paste which, I was assured, was the worst tasting of the lot.

NICE TO MEAT YOU: A giant water bug delicacy

And so ended a night of taste experimentation. Despite what was on the menu I was not left with a bitter taste in my mouth, rather a completely new outlook on tequila.

It is a commonly-held view that the liquor has to be drunk quickly and with a large dosage of lemon and salt to mask the burning sensation as it touches the lips.

While that may be true for many mass-produced tequilas, it is not for Don Julio. I was pleasantly surprised at the smooth, flavoursome texture that resembled a fine single malt whisky as opposed to the glass of pure fire I was expecting.

Althought it’s safe to say that Mexican bugs are not the drink’s natural culinary partner the evening certainly left an impression in the minds of everyone who attended.

I left with insects in my mouth and tequila in my heart and while I couldn’t wait to get rid of the former, the latter may well remain forever.

Scorpion image courtesy of ThorpeMarshNature via YouTube, with thanks

Giant waterbug picture courtesy of BugMan50 via Flickr, with thanks

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.