Summer barbecuing may still be weeks away, but the fire season has just acquired an excellent new companion: Maestro Dobel’s latest creation, Humito, billed as the world’s first smoked silver tequila.
Though it borrows a flavor profile typically associated with mezcal—tequila’s older, smokier cousin, made by cooking agave hearts (piñas) in wood-fired earthen pits—Humito is created using a centuries-old tequila-making process, with a twist of its own. (For a primer on mezcal and a few of our favorite bottles to try, see our slideshow.)
First, the blue agave piñas are steam cooked for 36 hours in traditional stone-brick ovens. After that, charred Mexican mesquite wood is introduced. Maestro Dobel’s owner, Juan Domingo "Dobel" Beckmann, the eleventh-generation owner of Jose Cuervo tequilas, won’t tell us how it's used, nor will he disclose more information about the process—“As a family that has been making tequila for over 200 years, the way we use mesquite wood is part of our secret and family history,” he says—but the suggestion is that the wood infuses the slow-cooked piñas with a sweet, smoky flavor.
Mysteries aside, the result is, first and foremost, an exceedingly elegant tequila so delicate it would be a waste even to add ice. Floral, fruit, and citrus notes prevail, followed by a delicate sweetness and subtle herbaceousness. For all their efforts, the aura of mesquite wood smoke is barely there, hanging lightly on the nose and on the tail end of the expression’s smooth finish like an afterthought—albeit an entirely pleasant one.
Surprisingly clean and crisp, Humito is dangerously easy to sip neat, though the spirit would play nicely in cocktails with bright, fresh flavors, such as grapefruit, lemon, ginger, or tropical fruits. Light, almost refreshing, it’s a perfect match for a hot night and grilled foods. After all, there’s no fire without at least a little bit of smoke.