From our standpoint, El Tesoro did everything right. It's a fine tequila offered at a very reasonable price. It was submitted repeatedly for professional judging at a variety of institutions. For these efforts, they were rewarded with a barrage of the highest scores we have seen from any label in any category. They literally owned the top scores of several different rating institutions in ways that no other spirit-let alone any other tequila-can match. In our own list of Top-20 tequilas, which can vary considerably over time with updates from users and other ratings, the top 2 or 3 spots have been held by El Tesoro consistently for the last 2 years straight. At the time of this writing, El Tesoro Anejo is tied for the highest spirit of any kind on our entire website of 3,500+ spirits.
So why? Why why why why?! Why did we see bottles of El Tesoro on the close-out rack in Galveston, Texas at Spec's Wine and Spirits? (See the above picture for the sad photographic evidence.) It's as tragic as George Lucas messing with the original Star Wars films or as wrong as a lowered Prius pimped out in red flames. How could this happen?!
First, let us set aside the controversy surrounding numerical ratings. Just because El Tesoro pulls down top scores does not mean that they craft the best tequila on earth. That's like saying some given pizza parlor makes the best pizza on earth because tons of people from Yelp like it. We understand-perhaps better than most-that professional ratings are acts of subjective experience and fraught with all the peril and bias that goes with those kinds of pursuits. Merely because El Tesoro repeatedly pulls down these awards is not a reason by itself for anyone to dash off and buy only El Tesoro tequila and only El Tesoro tequila for the rest of their lives.
But let's not ignore what they did: they pulled down top awards from several different agencies repeatedly. This is to say that a collection of very, very accomplished palates judged many different tequilas and assessed El Tesoro as making some of the best available. That, to us, is worthy of notice. Those awards, to us, indicate that it is at least worthwhile trying. (We have tried it, actually, and we can say-equally acknowledging that there are other great tequilas out there-that El Tesoro is very, very good.) Given the kind of critical acclaim it's enjoyed, you'd think El Tesoro ought to be able to muster up enough sales to at least stay on the shelf.
But there it is-photographic evidence and all. Where late 2010 should be the height of El Tesoro's fame-we see them on a discount rack. This even while other tequilas are riding sales based on no better reason than good advertising and celebrity endorsements. In fact, if Proof66 was founded for any reason whatsoever, it was to steer people away from slick advertising and towards paying attention to critical reviews of spirits. No, those reviews shouldn't dictate what you buy but they can at least guide your purchases in ways better than a movie star could. Clearly, we need to have better reach.
If there's any reason to have critical reviews of anything, it is to help broaden one's experience in a variety of interests. It's simply not cost effective to try every tequila that's produced any more than it is to watch every movie that's produced or read every vampire romance novel that's published. (Sure, a few uber enthusiasts do these things but it's not practical.) So we let the geeks speak! The movie geeks tell us about movies and the Twilight geeks tell us about vampires and the professional boozers tell us about tequila.
Certainly there have been occasions in the past where a great movie, a great book, a great piece of music or whatever dies silently and undeservedly in an unwitting marketplace dominated by media noise and crowded with competitors. Yet the information age and the world wide web should herald a time when this should happen less often, when transparency in quality and ratings can more easily prevail, and consumer choice is more empowered than ever before.
So woe to Texas and woe to the liquor industry! We hope this is an isolated event brought about by changing distributors or other bureaucratic technicalities, because it's hard to imagine the alternative. Certainly if you're lucky enough to find a bottle of El Tesoro sitting innocently in some liquor store or bar at a discount price, you might consider trying out what was, at the end of 2010 according to our measurements, the highest rated tequila on the planet.