I can't believe I'm saying this....but don't go near the two month 'rested' Fortaleza Reposado- it's absolutely terrible. Here's one Tequila from possibly the world's best and most traditional distillery, that I don't think you'll ever want to drink or collect, and I never saw this coming. I'm embarrassed to say, I almost bought a few of these figuring they may become collectors items years from now, as this 'temporary 2 month resting release' may never be made again, Well..... I'm glad I didn't do that. This may be the biggest miscalculation Fortaleza ever made, not that it still may not become collectible for that reason, but for drinking enjoyment....forget that. Everyone knows I love Fortaleza and it is my Top Blanco brand, and in the Top 1-3 spot of my favorite brands in general. Their Reposado was also my favorite Reposado.... hands down, but I tried this Lot 51 (two month rested) Fortaleza Reposado, and in my opinion..... it's extremely underwhelming.
I know they have had issues, or maybe you can say 'growing pains.' For awhile now, they have been putting labels on the back of the recent batches (lots), saying how long it was actually aged, as they are shortened resting times over the previous releases. I contacted the owners, and Billy Erickson told me "we purchased property across the street from our small distillery and we turned the warehouse into a new barrel storage and aging facility. In doing so we’ve increased our barrel storage from 200 to 1,000 barrels, but the project went slower than expected, and we did not have enough space to age our tequila that was to become our beloved Reposado, for the usual 6 months." He went on to say that different lots will have different colors, because they don't blend each lot, and hence the slight color or flavor variances.
I'm a firm believer in additive free tequila like Fortaleza, so I don't care about matching colors, as each lot is a sort of 'standalone', but this is something different. I'm talking about releasing a two month tequila that shouldn't have been released, simply to keep product out there. WHATEVER the reason was for doing this 'quick rested' Reposado, it was the wrong move. It just wasn't ready, like an apple pie half cooked, the crust was ok but the apples were raw and uncooked, with an immature tartness. How's that going to taste? I understand that they either weren't going to have a Reposado available for a while, or they could have released these..... I would have waited, especially with this inadequate 2 month rest.
I understand there's a lot of loyal Fortaleza followers, and I'm normally one of them, but if you don't believe me, I recommend you do a blind taste test with this 2 month Reposado, and any other Fortaleza Reposado that you have. See the results for yourself and then decide if YOU think that this two-month rested Reposado was worth putting on the market. Fortaleza has have been releasing these 'quick rested' Reposados for some time now, and at all different rested times. I understand that these changes started back around Repo lot 44 or so, and I have now seen and heard of bottles labeled 5 months, 4.5 months, 4 months, 3 months, and now 2 months. These stickers are being used for anything that was aged for less than 6 months. What happened to 8 months, like their website says? I mentioned this and they're going to fix that, as I believe it's actually been awhile since it was aged 8 full months. So as much as they want to play this down, acting like it's a temporary 'hiccup,' this has been going on for a while, and it will continue to go on for a while longer. Think about how long all these variations, of these shortened Reposados will actually be on shelves. Billy Erickson told me "the two month Reposado was labeled and released as demand continued, and we didn’t want to leave people empty handed." I know this was a business decision, and I know it's easy for me to say, but **if I had an amazing Reposado and renowned reputation for such, I would not have messed with that formula, and I would have taken a break.- SEE some different labels (BELOW).
a lot 48 Repo (4.5 months)
a lot 45 Repo (5 months)
Here's a lot 47 that I have, and you'll notice there is NO sticker at all, and it doesn't look like there ever was one. I wonder how that happened? They were putting stickers on, as of at least Lot 45 (seen above), so maybe they just 'forgot' to put a sticker on?
And just another thought.... if it's only aged for one third or longer of the time than it normally is, maybe the price should have been reduced? I understand that this brand is getting more popular by the day, but to just throw this two month reposado out there for sale is risky, and this could be a very costly mistake, especially considering first time buyers. Their sales are obviously increasing and they must be having capacity challenges at the moment, not to mention they have to purchase a large anount of their agaves. I'm sure with the popularity of the original highly rated World Class Reposado, that they probably just couldn't make it fast enough, especially with a barrel room issue. Maybe with these issues, and simply a case of supply and demand, leaving a void in their Reposado line, was not acceptable to the brand. I understand bars who serve this, and even distributors who move it, depend on their supply, and need to have the product, regardless how good or bad it tastes.
This is not the same when it comes to customers buying it for personal use. The decision was made to put this "expression" out, instead of making people either wait for the proper Reposado to be produced again, or having to search and build demand for this delicious juice. Prior to this shortened resting time, Fortaleza Reposado had previously been aged in American oak for 6-8 months, and it was untouchable. I suppose they felt the need to stay in the marketplace, using this Reposado instead of nothing. But after they tasted this 2 month version, I wonder how they could have released it? I assumed as many might have, that this two month rested Repo would taste like their delicious blanco, but softer and smoother, with just a slight woodiness, and a touch more flavors. This sounded logical right?..... but NO WAY!!
Lot 51 Reposado tastes hot, bland and sharp, and is green, but in a 'not ready', or 'premature' or 'unripe' way. This could be dangerous for such a high quality brand, because someone who heard great things about Fortaleza and especially this renowned Reposado, who goes out and buys this, may never buy a Fortaleza product again. It was by far the worst Fortaleza product I have encountered. It was like a 'tequila without an expression'. The blanco 'deliciousness' was gone, and it wasn't quite a Reposado yet either, with it's benefits and qualities. It was stuck in the middle, and not ready for presentation. I found it simply hot and bland and just 'not there'. A very knowledgeable tequila friend said "it's almost undrinkable", and I unfortunately have to agree. There's a certain point where the aging process is to the point where things are properly developed and aromas and flavors are completely formed, but before that point.... things can get strange. It's like a teenager going through that awkward growth phase, where there's confusion and a lot of weird things going on. In many ways it tastes like a tainted blanco and very immature, and by doing something risky like this, it's diluting their product name and it's hurting their reputation in my opinion. So what I'm saying is, if you see a sticker on the back label saying rested two months, three months, four months or whatever.....you will likely want to stay away. As you can see here in my previous review of Fortaleza Reposado, it was the real deal, but now, although this is 'temporary'..... it has fallen far from grace. CLICK- https://longislandloutequila.com/fortaleza-reposado-review/#.Wdts5FuPLAU
I was also disappointed to get my first 'manufactured', smoother and NOT a hand blown 'Hipolito glass bottle'. It looked different and 'less special' immediately. You can tell this, not only by the smooth look, but by seeing and feeling the 750ML letters on the bottom of manufactured glass bottles. This is just another change Fortaleza is pursuing, using a second bottle maker because the world renowned glass maker Hipolito, apparently couldn't keep up with the production, as Fortaleza is growing so fast. I guess us connoisseurs did too good of a job the last few years of getting the word out about Fortaleza, and now because of their reputation for such high quality, we have to deal with these setbacks. A smart tequila friend of mine who's new to the game, but who is very familiar with spirits and their production techniques, became acquainted with Fortaleza because of me, and went and bought this Reposado after hearing me rave about it. Trying to be polite, Mike put it right on target, saying "it's definitely a little hot and kind of green, in an unripe, tart and acidy way, and he looked at me as if to say, 'why did you make me spend $65. on this'? He had the blanco previously and loved it, but who knows now if he's ever coming back for their Reposado. This is not like a rested or aged tequila at all, especially of the quality of Fortaleza that we have come to expect. Although you get a hint of a barrel from it, it has immature aromas and flavors. The problem here is, it isn't mellow the way you'd expect, and it's like you get this woody essence over a pretty aggressive taste. It's kinda weird ....... I'd rather just have the blanco.
The Fortaleza folks should be careful, as a bottle of this stuff may be the first sample a lot of folks get of their product. They would have been better off building demand for this rested expression. Maybe it was better to let the Reposado line be rare or non-existent, until they are right. I always say, the bottle, the label, the promotion and hype, all don't mean squat....it's the juice that counts. The problem here is.... now the juice IS being affected. Billy Ericksom told me "now that we have our barrel aging room is completed, we are working back to our ideal of releasing a 6 month reposado, and anticipate early next year to be back to our norms."
PRODUCTION- Stone horno cooked, 100% Tahona crushed, open air fermentation without fibers in old world wooden fermentation tanks, double distilled using natural spring water and copper pot stills. Charcoal filtration used, and double distilled close to 80 proof. It is rested in used American oak, but instead of 6- 8 months, this is only two months.
This two month aged Fortaleza Reposado at about $55-65 and doubled distilled to 80 proof, was very lacking. It was hot, immature, acidic and bland without a real character of either being a blanco or reposado. It should never have been released, and I can only assume that the 3 month, and possibly the 4 month versions would be similar in immaturity, and lacking in quality flavor.
NOSE- Light and Bland for a Reposado, some light oak/whisky aroma, alcohol, light spice, underdeveloped presence, acutely vegetal, light smoke and very light vanilla.
TASTE- medium oil, hot, bland, light spice, light caramel, a some sweet agave, a pinch of anise (licorice) with a pinch of olive brine and not much else.
FINISH- hot with some numbing, light spice, light anise and light smoke, ending in a medium finish.
The 2017 Spirits Of Mexico blind Tasting Competition, done through Tequila Matchmaker has just been released. You'll notice that Fortaleza lot 51 Reposado came in tied to Cazadores, Milagro and other Reposados. This is not a position this World Class Reposado would normally be in.
I love Fortaleza, and will stick by them, but until they re-release their normal Reposado, it's back to Fortaleza Blanco and Anejo for me. Reposado means "rested", and this is exactly that.... except this 'nap' wasn't nearly as long as it should have been. This two month resting was a mistake, and I don't believe you want to waste your hard earned money on this. Trust me when I say .....we're all better off waiting, to get our proper and delicious Fortaleza Reposado back.
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