A drink from Lyaness in London.
A special selection of soul-warming añejos from small-batch brands.
I’M CURRENTLY IN the throes of a love affair with agave spirits. In recent years, remote work has allowed me to explore Mexico for months at a time, from its wild Pacific Coast beaches to the vibrant hub of Mexico City, where agave is king. Or deity, rather.
According to one Aztec myth, agave was the product of a love affair between the serpent god of air and wind, Ehecatl (also known as Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl), and Mayahuel, the lovely goddess of fertility, who was held captive by her evil monster-goddess grandmother, Tzitzímitl. When the god Ehecatl heard Mayahuel singing, he followed the sound and the pair fell deeply in love, meeting each night until they escaped the grandmother. When Tzitzímitl found out, she was enraged and hunted the lovers. According to some sources, Ehecatl embraced Mayahuel and they fused into a beautiful agave plant with spikes for protection. Tzitzímitl found the agave and destroyed it, missing just one spire, which Ehecatl replanted, crying over the remains. But his tears nourished the surviving plant, and it grew back into Mayahuel, reincarnated as the most beautiful agave.
For this reason, agave spirits are associated with passion and transformation, and are considered an elixir of the gods. While I love all expressions of agave spirits, from mezcal to tequila (tequila is actually a type of mezcal that can only be made from blue weber agave), I’ve been taking particular pleasure in its most aged expression, known as añejo. Aged for a year at minimum, añejo tequilas hold a darker color and sip more like whiskey or rum. They warm the soul and hold immense depth of flavor. I hope to keep discovering new brands — the world of tequila is as rich and varied as Mexico itself. For now, here are some gorgeous bottles, each bringing a touch of myth and magic to any occasion.
With subtle tasting notes of macadamia, nutmeg, and blackberry, this is an exquisite blend ending on a long, round finish with hints of cacao and an aroma of sweet pear. Its flavor is the product of two types of wood barrels: new French Oak and new American Oak. This brand is helmed by Mexico’s first maestra tequilera (female master tequila distiller), Bertha Gonzáles Nieves. Visit their headquarters, La Casa Dragones in San Miguel de Allende, for a tasting and a tour of the historic house. SHOP NOW
This tequila is a velvety array of dried fruits on the palate, with a quietly spiced kick and aromas of butterscotch and tobacco. They are the first B Corp-certified tequila company, which measures positive social impact across categories including corporate governance, the environment, community, employees, and customers. The brand is also female-led, by maestra tequilera Ana María Romero. SHOP NOW
This has more fire to it, with a complex, almost smoky pepperiness, evocative of whiskey. It’s aged in oak barrels that previously held scotch, sherry, and brandy for a whopping five years. Master distiller Germán González Gorrochotegui, the son of another great tequila maker, created his first bottle for personal enjoyment, sharing it with close friends who then urged him to create a collection. Thus, a brand was born. SHOP NOW
This tequila emits a tropical paradise scent: banana, toasted coconut, and vanilla. On the palate, it reveals notes of creamy caramel and almond, with a toasted oak finish. The bottle is as much a masterpiece as its contents. Clase Azul’s decanters are produced by Tradición Mazahua, a ceramic workshop founded in 2007 in which Clase Azul artisans create strikingly detailed bottles. For a deeper dive into this tequila brand, visit their newly opened restaurant La Terraza in Baja California, which features exquisite culinary offerings helmed by Chef Iván Arias. SHOP NOW
Sophie Mancini is an editor at Departures. Born and raised in New York City, she holds a degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and has a background as a writer in brand and editorial.
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