Ever had that embarrassing moment where someone was so forgettable that you re-introduced yourself to them all over again, after which they winced and replied, “we’ve met.” And at that moment, you think, Great: now I’m the asshole. This is the tequila equivalent of that interaction.
Maybe let’s start here: there’s nothing bad about Siete Leguas. They have a traditional production method where a donkey pulls a stone wheel and all of that jazz, and a quick google search will reveal that the distillery seems very highly rated. Normally when there’s a good amount of buzz about a quality tequila, I’m all over it. Good press seems to stand out even more against a backdrop of nondescript products, and even more so when you consider that people don’t generally pontificate about tequila in the same way that they will with whiskey.
Make no mistake: the clear hallmarks of good quality are here. You can smell it and not singe your nose hairs off, and you can swallow it without feeling like you’re drinking rocket fuel. And, if you take your time with it, there certainly is a lot to be sussed out. I mean, reviews (including this one) will throw out words like cinnamon, nutmeg, dark chocolate, and bell pepper, and all of those tastes and smells are there in the glass!
That said, there’s a difference between sitting down and hunting for flavors and nuance when you’re feeling contemplative versus having them hit you over the side of the head in the best of ways. Whenever I recommend something to you guys, I normally stand by some kind of “wow” factor present in the bottle. Let’s consider a past review for Fortaleza: you don’t need to try to suss out the sage and brown butter when you sip it. It’s wonderfully sweet and savory, and I bet you would be able to appreciate that in good company and over good conversation.
So when the Siete Leguas is firing on all cylinders, it has a very austere arrival of wood spice and chopped vegetables that slowly and methodically builds into dark chocolate or strong espresso. It is the only spirit that has so far smelled, to me, like a good Sauvignon Blanc, with some spritely grapefruit. But that came only after smelling and tasting it lots of times. For most of the bottle, I poured it and thought, “whatever.” This is a good lesson that not all tasting notes are created equal, and I think spirit writing often fails to convey the intensity of our descriptors.
Let’s also pause for a moment to consider this is the añejo from Siete Leguas. On one hand, a person could fairly praise its austerity and sophistication. On the other, I could say that this is a $60 añejo that tastes like a $35 reposado. Probably I’m not the only one hoping to get the instant gratification of the greater richness that (normally) goes hand-in-hand with aged tequila, and here I feel like the bottle I brought home isn’t stepping up to the plate.
So let’s go back to intensity: if the flavors came across on a scale of one-to-ten as a 7 or higher, I’d be a happy camper. Here, they’re about a 4, if I’m feeling charitable. The sophistication is nice, but unless you’re (say) writing a review for this particular tequila and challenging yourself to fully document that process, you might entirely miss what Siete Leguas has to offer. I say that’s a flaw, not a feature.