Most super-premium tequilas are añejos or extra-añejos, aged (sometimes in fancy barrels from Bordeaux, Cognac, or elsewhere) into carameled smoothness and sold as alternatives to high-quality after-dinner brandies. These are fine for those that like that kind of thing, but I like tequila that tastes of its source material — agave — and not of wood.
That's why I like José Cuervo's superb Platino, for instance. And that's why I was anxious to sample a new entry into the market called Casa Dragones, a joven agave spirit described on the bottle, in English, as "sipping tequila." That bottle is beautiful itself, by the way: lead-free crystal engraved with a traditional Mexican technique called pepita, which uses an aluminum oxide grinding stone to produce seed-like shapes in glass. What's inside is beautiful, too — a truly elegant tequila with a light agave aroma, smooth and soft on the palate, with a touch of vanilla and of almost raisin-y fruit. (Joven literally means "young," but in tequila terminology it describes an unaged spirit to which a small amount of older aged tequila is added — barrel-aged extra-añejo, in this case, very subtle.) The only problem with this tequila — is the price: $275 a bottle.
I tasted Casa Dragones alongside Cuervo's Platino (itself in a very attractive, if more rustic-looking, bottle), and found more obvious agave character in the latter, along with some honey and Christmas spice and a lightly peppery finish. It had more of an edge than the Casa Dragones, and was clearly not as elegant, but it was also a pleasure to sip. Oh, and did I mention that it retails for about $60?
Casa Dragones is a superb spirit, a real pleasure to drink. But when I think that for what it costs, I could buy four bottles of Platino and have enough left over for, say, a bottle of Cuervo Tradicional (my go-to cocktail tequila), well…