Review: Camarena Tequila – Complete Lineup (2019)
Way back in 2010, the Camarena family got in bed with the Gallo corporation and decided to make a tequila with audacious goals: 100% agave, but at an ultra-affordable price point. Cuervo Tradicional has done a fair job of this, but few others have succeeded at producing a high-quality, affordable tequila.
In 2010, Camerena was only available in two expressions — silver and reposado. Recently, the operation just added the third expression, anejo, to the lineup. Today we’re taking a fresh look at the 2019 versions of those original two tequilas, plus sampling the new anejo for the first time. Can budget tequila be any good in today’s market?
Fresh thoughts follow. All are 80 proof.
Camarena Tequila Silver (2019) – On the nose: Heavy agave, pungent, with overwhelming notes of white pepper. A lemon/lime character kicks in after that. Sure enough, that citrus follows over to the palate, giving the tequila a semblance of premade margarita. Light in body, but punchy on the finish with a healthy and somewhat off-putting slug of raw alcohol. B- / $19
Camarena Tequila Reposado (2019) – Rested for two months in barrel before bottling. Quite light in color, the tequila nonetheless takes on quite a bit of barrel influence in just 60 days, imbuing the nose with notes of both barrel char and classic vanilla. The overall aromatic impression is still quite heavy on pepper, though, with a vegetal note behind it. The palate is sharp and heavy with lemon, with notes of vanilla underneath. Overall it’s a bit rustic and not entirely in balance, with a significant green character on the finish. B- / $20
Camarena Tequila Anejo (2019) – Aged for one year in barrel before bottling. This has a bit more of that classic aged tequila note to it, but it’s still on the light side, as if the barrels used to age the tequila have been used more than once … or twice. The flavor runs close to that of the reposado, though the vanilla gets pumped up a bit, and a nice milk chocolate note pokes its head through. Notes of pepper and some baking spice give the back end a lift, with a bit of butterscotch more evident on the finish in lieu of more aggressive vegetal notes. So, definitely better, but generally closer to a reposado in overall tone. B+ / $30