For better or for worse, we can't talk about Casamigos without talking about George Clooney and his level of involvement in the tequila, so let's get that out of the way first.
We'll start with NOM 1416. To you, this might sound like the name of a Siberian gulag, but it's actually short for Norma Oficial Mexicana, the number given to the distillery by the Mexican government. This distillery also makes the well-regarded Clase Azul tequila and the moderately-well-known Avión brand. What I'm getting at is that these guys are the real backbone of Casamigos. If you thought that George Clooney was out there along with Cindy Crawford's husband and a New York real estate developer in the fields of Jalisco, hacking up agave plants in the hot sun, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.
That said, the three friends did end up contracting with NOM 1416 and tasting some seven hundred different samples and variations of the tequila in order to arrive at what they put their signature on. When three multimillionaires show up at your distillery and tell you want to do, you do it. And yet their directions proved wildly successful. As of this writing, drinks giant Diageo is set to buy Casamigos for a billion dollars. No, really. Thank god a broke guy like George Clooney is finally earning some real money, right?
I think a lot of people who approach Casamigos—especially if they already like tequila—are predisposed to shit all over this stuff. And on paper, how could you not? It's the side project of three extraordinarily rich yanquis with no prior knowledge of tequila distillation, and likely most of the people who buy it do so because George Clooney is a movie star, so therefore... uh...
There's just one problem with setting Casamigos up to take a fall on the basis of celebrity: the tequila is pretty damn good.
Unlike most crap-grade blanco tequilas—even counting many of those made from 100% agave—there's actually some richness here in the aroma. Casamigos actually smells like something, with nutty and sweet aromas in ample supply. I was reminded of a bit of brown butter, maple, and clove that made for a great first impression and primed me to jump in.
What I dig most about Casamigos is that it's an exercise in balance. It isn't too sweet, it isn't too vegetal, and it isn't too mineral— instead, all three of these core flavors are present, but understated. The butter is there in the arrival, along with a good deal of soft vanilla. Think homemade cake icing. But before the drink turns overly sweet, there's some nice flint in the development. The finish is a little short, but mostly pleasant with a bit of lemon cream that transitions to cracked pepper. It's a very approachable flavor profile.
Clooney and co. not withstanding, the Casamigos blanco is rock-solid. Better, in my opinion, than Patron or Don Julio, which it will be inevitably compared to. It's certainly a good bottle to have on hand to show the skeptics what tequila has to offer.