It’s often relegated to a grimace-inducing shot or covered up with margarita mix; as Cinco de Mayo approaches, it seems apropos to reflect that, when made with fine agave and distilled with expertise and care, a good tequila can be an exquisite pleasure to sip and savor. For some pro guidance, we went to 9 NW 9th in OKC to chat with Shane Melton, bar manager of Iguana Mexican Grill.
Their bench is deep when it comes to tequila, but when asked for a tasting, Melton set us up with three varieties of Tequila Ocho, a brand high on his list because of its attention to detail when it comes to quality. They only use agave grown in their own fields, and each bottle’s label specifies the field and vintage. Variations add up – higher elevation tequilas are sweeter, lower are grassy and peppery, and the age differences matter too: Plata or blanco is aged less than two months, resulting in a sharper, stronger taste; reposado is aged at least two months (Tequila Ocho’s is two months and eight days); añejo is aged at least a year. My advice is to ask Melton for the extra añejo, aged three years and an extra eight days for a truly impressive mellow flavor. You shouldn’t even need the salt and citrus wedge.
Take a small sip, let it sit under your tongue for a moment and breathe through your nose to let the alcohol vapors dissipate. Then swallow – and enjoy a true taste of Mexico.