This year we’ve seen some great expansion in the ultra-premium space with a wide range of American and Scotch whiskey products aimed at the top tier of the beverage market. While there have been a few ultra-premium offerings in the tequila space – most notably Patron Platinum Tequila ($200) and Casa Dragones Tequla ($275) – it remains a relatively untapped segment of the tequila market. It’s no surprise that the incredibly savvy Tequila Avion has launched an inventive product into this space and priced it in a way where they can really take significant market share.
Tequila Avion has had a pretty wild ride as a company. Avion had its debut as a real tequila with a fictional storyline in HBO’s popular series Entourage. It took some work but Avion was able to convince people that they were indeed a real product and not just a HBO story line. Winning a number of key spirits awards including Best White Spirit at SF Spirits along with a partnership with Pernod Ricard helped propel Avion from the buzz bin to being one of the fastest growing premium tequilas. This year, Avion released a best of breed coffee/espresso liqueur, called Tequila Avion Espresso, which struck a perfect balance between meeting a market need and delivering a world class product.
Always with an eye towards being “best of class”, Avion has now introduced an ultra-premium extra anejo tequila called Avion Reserva 44. The 44 in Avion’s Reserva 44 refers to the number of months that Avion has aged this tequila (which translates to 3.6 years). Avion Reserva 44 goes through the same proprietary ultra-slow filtration method that helps give Tequila Avion its distinct, spicy, and clean character before it’s aged for 43 of those 44 months. The final month Avion Reserva 44 spends in smaller barrels which are rotated daily. The tequila is then bottled in a stunning crystal bottle, and hand signed and numbered by Tequila Avion founder Ken Austin.
Tequila Avion Reserva 44 Extra Anejo Tequila (40% ABV / 80 Proof, $150) – dark gold in color, Tequila Avion Reserva 44 has an enticingly rich and complex nose. Deep caramel notes intermingle with black and green pepper, cinnamon, clove, fresh cut oak, aged oak, pickled jalapeño, milk chocolate, and mint. It’s pretty amazing the number of different aromas in Tequila Avion’s Reserva 44’s nose and how well these aromas are integrated. That symphony of aroma becomes a symphony of flavor on the palate. In the entry Reserva 44’s sweet notes of caramel and cooked agave quickly make way for the oak and pepper spice. In the midpalate Avion Reserva 44 is everything we’ve come to know and love about Tequila Avion, with spicy black and green pepper extremely well complemented with oak and cinnamon. The sweeter elements from the entry are still there in the midpalate giving the solid spice some nice balance and support. The finish is long, slightly spicy, a little dry, and very flavorful – the kind of finish that makes you want to take another sip.
We’ve well documented the pitfalls of using small barrels, namely the risk of pushing too much oak into a spirit in too short a period of time. It was an interesting move for Avion to put their highest end tequila into small barrels, even for a month, and one which could have backfired. But Avion has shown yet again their technical mastery in crafting their tequila. Instead of over oaked, Tequila Avion Reserva 44 is wonderfully balanced with just the right amount of oak and cinnamon spice to complement Avion’s native pepper spice. It’s also nice to see Tequila Avion resist the urge to put their extra anejo through an additional filtering process like Patron Platinum, Don Julio 70 or Casa Dragones. By filtering this spirit before aging, Avion has given its signature clean and spicy character stamp without robbing it of some of the very nice things that time in barrel has to offer. As with their previous releases, Tequila Avion has simply nailed it here. They’ve created an ultra-premium tequila that has something special to offer, undercut their competition, and presented it in one of the nicer premium tequila packages we’ve seen (it’s just stunning).