Some brands of Tequila (like wine) have different vintages, with variations in taste. Tequila Ocho is such a quality tequila, made from agaves from different fields and terroirs for each year. It's interesting to taste the differences, but not many tequila brands 'travel' as Ocho does. ArteNOM is another brand, that the owner Jake Lustig actually takes to different quality distilleries, and produces limited runs of an expression. You would find bigger differences in these, as they are from different terroirs or different distilleries, with ArteNOM using different production methods. Almost as fun though and as interesting, is noticing, learning about, and comparing a brand through it's different 'lots'. Yesterday I taste-tested and compared two separate 'lots' or 'lotes' of Fortaleza (SEE lot labels Above and picture Below). The 'B' is for blanco and the lot #, 'R' would be for Reposado, and 'A' for Anejo, but not all brands use the B,R,A designations. Also some brands call the lot identifier a 'batch number' (SEE Below). Although the Fortaleza agaves 'usually' come from the same area, it's such a small batch hand-made brand, that slight variances occur between batches, and that's a cool thing. There are other brands that are similar in this regard. This shows the intricacy of a handmade tequila, and how they never-ever, taste exactly the same. Fortaleza is from El Valle, and is an excellent old style tequila. Brick Oven cooked, tahona wheel crushed, fermented in wood tanks and copper pot-stilled distillation. That procedure is about as good as it gets.
There are practically blogs dedicated to comparing different 'lots' of this liquid gold, and the Fortaleza crowd is deadly serious about comparing and discussing different lots. The early lots are very 'in demand', expensive, and very hard to find. This gives a 'mystique' to a brand. As a friend told me, "each lot may be slightly different, but there's never doubt that it's Fortaleza." For example, I noticed that Lot 18 had a very strong olive (briny) and cheesy (parmesan) nose (smell). Although it wasn't so much in the taste, you couldn't miss it. It had many different flavors, and this is considered a BIG, BOLD taste. Remember 60-70% of what you smell is what you perceive in taste.
Most brands have a lot number printed on the bottle. Some are not easy to locate or read**, but they are usually there. Look all the way at the bottom here, on the glass of NOM 1529 on the left, and on NOM 1433 just under the barcode.** Many of the larger volume brands are more like 'cookie cutter' in taste profile, so it's not so necessary to compare lots, as they will be the same, set by a computer. The smaller artisanal handmade brands, can vary more with different 'runs or batches', and it's interesting to see the slight differences.
I was glad to find Fortaleza Lot 19 was different. I knew this as soon as I smelled it. As mentioned, a slight difference.... but no doubt Fortaleza. It was more neutral, less bold, with less flavors (which I wanted), no cheese and only a slight hint of olives. Instead I nosed vanilla & floral notes. It was somewhat smooth and had a mild spice taste to it. Interestingly, I noticed it wasn't as smooth as Lot 18, but I will take the trade off. It was fun finding the differences and it's so interesting to compare 'lots' with any small quality brand. It's fun and educational, and I always write my notes on a spreadsheet for future reference. Tasting and comparing lots is fun and educational, and remember your tastes will change, so keep an open mind on all profiles.
(Below) is an example of a Reposado lot #
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