Every year since 2010, the Ultimate Spirits Challenge has convened in the suburbs of New York to judge the best of the best across all categories of liquor. And for the eleventh consecutive year, the competition fielded more entries than ever before. Unlike other judgings—typically held over several days—this one is spread out over a full two months. During that time an exhaustive sampling regimen winnows down thousands of liquids into just 237 finalists, and 45 recipients of the highest honor: the Chairman’s Trophy.
When it comes to tequila, specifically, only four bottles took home that top-tier prize. It was awarded to one in each of the primary marks for 100% agave spirit.
Tequila Ocho secured the Chairman’s Trophy for its unaged Plata. The bottling notched an impressive 96 points out of a possible 100—higher than all other tequilas regardless of category.
Plata is Unaged and honors the noble agaves of Arandas and the Camarena “Ranchos” through intense, lively and clean flavors Made with 100% Blue Agave. Available in 100ml and 750ml.
Color- Clear, bright, clean, good body.
Aroma- Very aromatic, herbal and fruity, notable agave presence, pear, pineapple, citrus,and slightly spicy.
Palate- Intense, some peppery notes with cooked agave very persistent , finishing sweet, orchard fruits, tangerine and orange blossoms, multilayered , complex, overripe agaves, sweet fruity roundness, extremely concentrated, goes on and on.
On the opposite end of the aging spectrum, Avion netted the top prize for its extra añejo. As the name suggests, Reserva 44 matures for a full 44 months in oak barrels. The vast majority of that time is spent in traditional 53-gallon wooden vessels. But in the final month the liquid is transferred to ‘petite’ casks, which are rotated daily. It’s a labor intensive process, but one that punctuates the XA with alluring aromas of vanilla and coconut. On the palate judges made note of ‘milk chocolate’ and ‘sweetgrass’, before ‘asparagus’ and black pepper took hold in its protracted finish.
The result is a rich tequila with deep aromas of roasted agave and vanilla, complemented by light citrus. Flavours follow the aromas, but dried fruits, eucalyptus and cinnamon are also present. Each bottle is hand-numbered and signed by Avion’s founder.