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Straight From the Barrel - Pink Tequila?

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A Pink Tequila?

The looks of this thing may put off many a real man, but don't be afraid, drinking pink Tequila is not an assault on your masculinity.

If the mere thought of it puts you in mind of one of those blush wines that used to come in a thatched bottle covered in straw to lend it character where there was none, think again. AsomBroso LaRosa Reposado, the first Tequila finished in barrels formerly used to age Bordeaux wine, is a completely different animal with lots of character.

AsomBroso (Spanish for astonishing) is the brainchild of Ricardo Gamarra, the president of California Tequila. Self-admittedly not your "typical Tequila drinker," Gamarra became enamored with the spirit after tasting sophisticated old-style Tequilas and decided he could make one himself.

"The reason I went into this business was to make a better mousetrap," says Gamarra, who owns several movie studios for the production of commercials. He explains that his approach to his cinema business was always "how can I make it better?" and that he applied the same spirit innovation to his Tequila business. In doing so he created the AsomBroso La Noria Tequilery in Tala, Mexico, where he makes LaRosa, as well as other Tequilas. All are quadruple distilled and any aging is done in French oak, although LaRosa is the only iteration aged in used Bordeaux barrels. He also developed different filtering methods for his Tequila.

While AsomBroso has recently gotten much attention in the celebrity world (for one thing, it will be featured on an upcoming episode of HBO's "Entourage"), Gamarra points out that it was several years in the making. He worked on the LaRosa for two years before the Mexican appellation control that certifies such things would allow him to market a pink Tequila.

Gamarra says the LaRosa is like his clear, unaged Tequila, El Platino, "gone off to finishing school." LaRosa is available as a spirit rested in Bordeaux wood for either three months or 11 months.

While the La Rosa Reposado is decidedly on the smoother end of the Tequila category, which has had a reputation for frontier grittiness, it belies its color with a strength of character and full-flavored punch that reflects the latest trend toward elegant sipping Tequilas (see Cigar Aficionado, June 2007, page 55).

As well as the LaRosa ($45.99) and El Platino (37.99), AsomBroso makes a five-year-old Extra Anejo ($179.99), named for the newly created designation for Tequilas that are more than three years old. AsomBroso is widely available in California and is expected to break out in 42 new markets in the coming months.

What may take some getting used to about AsomBroso are the hand blown and numbered decanters, which Gamarra says are patterned after a vessel found in an eighteenth-century European castle. To us, however, it comes off as, well, phallic (see photo). The Extra Anejo edition is also available in a cedar-lined humidor box, which, of course, we endorse.

Tasting note for AsomBroso LaRosa 3 Months:

Appearance: Pink, tending toward magenta. Tight, thin legs that roll languidly down the glass.

Nose: Caramel and floral notes with subtle hints of the wine cask.

Palate: Very sweet on the tip of the tongue. Blossoms into a full body with spice and hearty, savory notes as well as the expected Claret flavors.

Finish: A lush long finish, snaps to an end with a bit of the grit that is telltale Tequila.

Cigar Aficionado, by Jack Bettridge

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