Review: Excellia Tequila tasting event @ The Blue Pig, Northern Quarter

By Glen Keogh

It’s a tired cliché, but one which still rings true in the minds of most.

Tequila memories are usually bad ones – flashbacks of four shots at the bar on Saturday night, salt dusted onto the side of a clenched fist, the sickly taste of lime and the even sicklier taste an hour after you stumble home.

Perhaps the latter is only indicative of a certain class, or of which university you attended, but you get the point.

But have you heard the news? Tequila is not a drink to be thrown down the gullet and splashed into an already wine-filled belly, nor has it ever been, depending on who you believe.

Apparently sipping is the key. Tequila is a drink which should be savoured and enjoyed, like a fine whisky or cognac – at least that’s what was drummed into attendees at a tasting event at the Northern Quarter’s Blue Pig last night.

Hosted by Paul Pavli, the National Sales Director at Boutique Brands, who promote and provide luxury spirits, the evening centred on their product Excellia Tequila.

The main point of the drinking and festivities was to show that tequila, and Excellia in particular, can be enjoyed as a drink on its own or as part of a cocktail.

To ensure everybody understood this vital point, a selection of drinks were served up ranging from neat Excellia at different parts of the aging process, to margaritas and tommys.

Excellia’s selling point is that it is created by a unique aging process which reflects its French founders, by Franco-fying the drink, so to speak.

As you may or may not know, the drink tequila needs to come from the city of Tequila in Mexico or its surrounding areas, and must be made from the blue agave plant.

If not it’s simply a poor imitation, much like ‘English champagne’, which is actually classed as sparkling wine.

Well, at least we tried.

So how can you put a French twist on something which has such stringent creation rules?

The boys behind the brand decided to age the tequila in Grand Cru Sauternes wine casks and Cognac barrels, to give it an individual flavour and that’s what makes the drink different.

However the grand history behind the bottle and the craft which obviously goes into making the drink was still not enough for some at the event, who found tequila cocktails manageable but the neat drinks still too much.

There are three main types in the range: Blanco, typically an un-aged tequila, is rested just a few weeks in Grand Cru Sauternes wine casks and Cognac barrels; Reposado, which is aged for nine months and Anejo, which is aged for 18 months.

Tastes ranged from the Blanco’s peppery, crisp bite, to the more fiery Reposado, which still managed to retain an almost creamy consistency, and the sweetness of all three was pleasing.

The event, which detailed the history of tequila and the Excellia brand was a thoroughly interesting experience, and intensified the enjoyment of the drinks.

It’s true – tequila does seem like it can be savoured like other fine spirits, and could be the ingredient you look to in a cocktail rather than sticking with the norm.

After all that tasting and tequila discovery, the revelation dawned that no salt or lime should ever be needed to numb the taste, and those flashbacks of shotting a sickly liquid in a seedy bar in the early hours should certainly be confined to the history books.  

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