Review: Tanteo Blanco and Pepper-Infused Tequilas (2020)
A lot has changed since we first covered Tanteo Tequila back in 2009. Back then, the company was focused exclusively on flavored tequilas, with offerings ranging from tropical fruit to chocolate. Recently, Tanteo dropped two of its three flavors and doubled down on peppers. In addition to its jalapeno flavored tequila, it rolled out chipotle and habanero varieties — all made from locally sourced peppers. Even more recently, it took an even bolder step: Releasing its first unflavored tequila, Tanteo Blanco.
All of the tequilas are made at a new distillery in Juanacatlan (located in the central highlands, near the border with the lowlands area), which are made from fair trade, 100% Blue Weber agave, then distilled utilizing traditional cooking methods and open-air fermentation. And be sure to note the higher proof — 42.5% abv — of the blanco.
We recently received all four of Tanteo’s current offerings for review. Let’s dig in.
Tanteo Tequila Blanco – Immediately quite soft and approachable. The nose has some pepper and some lemon, with a gentle herbaceousness laced throughout — altogether a quite iconic blanco. The palate bursts with lemon up front — surprisingly powerful and full of flavor — while a very gentle sweetness tames some of the herbal agave notes just enough to make this imminently drinkable. On the finish I catch a touch of cinnamon and cocoa powder, giving the brisk and fruity tequila a clever nuance on the back end. Meanwhile, the slightly higher abv adds some gravity via a noticeably stronger punch. Excellent balance from front to back, and wholly worthwhile as a solo sipper or a margarita base. 85 proof. A / $40
Tanteo Jalapeno Tequila (2020) – The green pungency of the jalapeno is evident from the start here, its peppery heat and Tex-Mex impact immediately enveloping on the nose. The pepper sears the lips if they’re the least bit chapped, but it’s altogether a manageable heat — warming and enveloping in its spiciness — and never off-putting. The vegetal greenness and natural spice of the jalapeno is tamed a bit by a slight hint of brown sugar, making the finish more approachable — yet still quite punchy — than it might otherwise be. 80 proof. A- / $35
Tanteo Habanero Tequila – Habanero tends to be relied upon more for raw heat than peppery flavor, and sure enough it serves such a purpose here. The heat is evident on the nose, but it’s more of a raw red pepper character, like cayenne gone wild, without the south-of-the-border nuance of the Jalapeno Tequila. The heat creeps up on you on the palate, starting slow and building up to a mouth-searing performance that lasts for minutes unless you tame it with water or some other extinguisher. It isn’t until the finish that the agave really shows itself, though by this point, my palate was just too far gone for it to make much of a difference. Outside of bar bets, I’m not entirely sure how I’d use this. 80 proof. B- / $35
Tanteo Chipotle Tequila – As a reminder, chipotle is roasted jalapeno, which has a distinctly smoky flavor — and, in this tequila, a significant orange hue. The aroma lands somewhere between the Jalapeno and the Habanero — peppery but lightly smoky, yet quite heavy with heat. The palate follows suit, the smokiness stepping in for the sweetness found in the jalapeno offering, giving the palate a lively, grillside feeling, while the finish yields a significant note of authentic roasted chile character. The smoke and chile don’t always feel perfectly integrated with one another, and the tequila is otherwise short on nuance, but the combination of flavors is nothing if not unique. 80 proof. B / $35