Tequila is an interesting spirit because like grapes, the agave plant is terroir-specific. This means that agave plants will reflect the conditions in which they are grown; soil, water, altitude, and more. This makes every bottle of tequila potentially unique in that each producer could produce tequilas that are reflective of their estates. Unfortunately, much like cheap table wine, a number of producers just purchase lots of agaves rather than grow their own.
Olmeca Altos Plata is one tequila that would benefit from estate-grown agave. At around $20 a bottle, Olmeca Altos Plata is a quality 100 percent agave tequila but one that falls just short of exceptional. Still, for the money, only El Jimador Blanco delivers similar quality at this price point.
Olmeca is a tequila produced in Mexico’s Highland region of Jalisco. While the distillery has existed since 1967, most people know Olmeca as a producer of low end “mixto” tequilas. In 2009, the Olmeca Altos line of 100 percent agave tequilas was introduced, and Tezon, a super-premium line of tequilas from Olmeca, rounds out the range. All Olmeca tequilas contain a percentage of juice made using a tahona, a huge, stone wheel that was traditionally used to crush and extract the juice from roasted agave pinas. This stone crushing is a large part of Olmeca Altos marketing efforts and may be unique among large distillers although small distillers like Guillermo Sauza’s Los Abuelos do crush their pinas using the tahona method.
Olmeca Altos Plata is a silver tequila, unaged before bottling. On the nose, notes of white pepper, banana, and vanilla come through, and Olmeca Altos Plata has a smooth, creamy mouthfeel. This tequila is slightly restrained, and I would have liked to taste a bit more of the agave fruit come through in this spirit. That is where estate-grown agaves may be able to make a difference for this producer down the road. As it is, this a high-quality tequila, one that I wouldn’t hesitate to use in margaritas or paloma, but not as a sipping tequila (step up to Herradura Blanco should you like to sip a silver tequila.) Still at $20, this is one to look for.
Olmeca Altos Plata Tequila can be found in better liquor stores and bars. If you enjoy high-quality tequila cocktails, this is one that should most definitely be in your liquor cabinet.