It was Christmas in May when the kind folks at BH USA Enterprises sent us a bottle of their silver medal winning Adan y Eva Reposado Tequila to sample. Gracias, Santa Baby!
Let's say first that the bottle is absolutely gorgeous. Of course there's a little glitz and marketing spin in the world of tequila - as there is in every spirit category in the 21st century - but all the tequila guys seem to take a special, artistic pride in their bottles. And the Adan y Eva? Very nice! It comes in a large, fig-leafed bottle. It's a little more slender than most bottles so it ends up looking larger and more voluminous than your typical 750ml hunk of glass. The aluminum plate on front has an engraving of a nude (tasteful! the naughty bits are cleverly concealed) Adam and Eve - the seminal moment where Eve is tempting Adam with the apple. Or is it a glass of tequila? No, no, it is definitely an apple. But it should've been tequila!
The website actually has a nice if irreverent rendition of the Sistine Chapel where the fingers of man and God barely touch. But in their version, the one (God) holds a bottle of tequila (Adan y Eva, of course) and the other (man) a shot glass - but surely God wants us to sip this tequila instead of shoot it!
Anyway, the bottle is gorgeous.
But looks aren't everything and this ain't a fashion magazine shoot. This is Thunderdome (apologies to Warner Bros.).
As is our custom in assessing a liquor, we pit it against a baseline spirit of similar quality in a series of different styles of drinks. In this case, we chose the 1800 Reposado Reserva; itself widely regarded as a competent tequila at a good price point and, of course, available everywhere. This particular match had four rounds:
- Neat-no ice, no additives, no anything. Just naked and pure like Adam and Eve in Eden.
- Margarita'classic and on the rocks (a bit of fresh lime juice, tequila, and Grand Marnier). Leave your blenders and syrups at home when you're making real margaritas.
- Tequila Sunrise - fresh, hand-squeezed orange juice with a bit of grenadine for the sunrise effect.
- Shady Lady - one of our personal favorites: fresh, hand-squeezed grapefruit juice and Midori Melon liqueur.
Round 1: Neat
We had quite a throng (eight tasters in total) and we tried both tequilas in glasses at ambient temperature untouched by anything. The 1800 Reposado nose (that means "what it smells like" but we're going for a little elitism here so forgive us the snooty term) caused a great bit of conflict. "It smells just like tequila!" was the general consensus and this was a good thing or a bad thing depending crucially on the given individual's collegiate experience. The Adan y Eva, on the other hand, was altogether different in aroma. In contrast, it was described as "fresher - sweeter - like the garden of Eden." People enjoyed the difference likening it to summer and earthy grass.
On tasting, the 1800 was considered on the first taste as "Sweet, light, and airy." This was a good thing. Then on the finish that old, familiar tequila monster kicked, which was described at best as "I've tasted a lot worse" and at worst as "Worse than Robitussin." We should note that there was a small minority of self-described tequila enthusiasts who liked the burn (their past memories presumably blotted out). The Adan y Eva, by contrast, was considered "limy" and more subtle on the entry - not nearly as sweet - but far, far smoother on the finish. "Much less burn - much better" was the chorus of responses. There was also a sentiment that the Adan y Eva was a bit more peppery or fiery on the entry. One person - a committed smoker - highly, highly recommends the tequila with a cigarette.
Round 2: Margarita
The 1800 came in with a classic punch in the margarita. The flavors of the margarita completely erased the aforementioned burn leading people to announce "We could get so tanked on this drink" and "As I get closer to the bottom of this glass you get cuter" and finally "This drink is a good time for hours leading to days of pain."
With the Adan y Eva, the distinctive aroma shone right through the margarita. Interestingly, where the 1800 burn was submerged in the drink the Adan y Eva was absorbed. The "tequila taste" vanished quite thoroughly in the drink. This led to a split decision: there were those who wanted the tequila taste preferring the 1800 and those who liked the mellower version preferring the Adan y Eva.
Round 3: Tequila Sunrise
The drink so famous that they made a movie (starring Kurt Russell, Michelle Pfeiffer, and the aforementioned Mel Gibson). The Adan y Eva went first this time and we speculated that the orange juice would complement the fine scent and smoother flavor much better. It ended up being "innocent tasting," full of "freshness." Many considered it a fantastic beach drink and very, very dangerous because it had no trace of alcohol. "If you want tequila - make sure you order a double!" announced one of the tequila idolaters.
In contrast, the 1800 had more burn and - to some - an emptier flavor. Once again, we ended in a split decision where those who genuinely liked tequila preferred the burn of the 1800 while the rest greatly preferred the Adan y Eva.
Round 4: Shady Lady
This drink was a big hit with the ladies in attendance. The "pucker" of the grapefruit mixed very nicely with the tequila with the midori providing a bit of sweetness. (If you haven't tried this drink with real grapefruit juice, do so.) Unfortunately, while the aroma of the Adan y Eva came through in this drink - as it did for all the offerings - something about the flavors of that tequila with the grapefruit in this drink did not work at all. Just didn't work - we're not sure why. Sorry BH USA but no contest on this one.
So we have conflicting declarations depending upon your point of view.
For the tequila enthusiasts, there is absolutely no question that Adan y Eva is by far the superior sipping tequila. But they found that the subtleties were lost in cocktails where they wanted the burn and fire of the stiffer-tasting 1800.
Meanwhile, those not so familiar with tequila loved the Adan y Eva in cocktails - particularly the Tequila Sunrise. They saw themselves in paradise (Eden, whatever) drinking down gallons of drinks partying the whole way. Meanwhile, the tequila lovers sulked in the corner complaining about the lack of burn.
In the final summation, then, we highly recommend Adan y Eva as a sipping tequila on the rocks in a bar setting but would be equally delighted to serve it at parties on the beach as the sun goes down.