“Extra añejo” might be my two favorite words in the Spanish language. Okay, only one of those words is Spanish. But still. It’s right up there with “street tacos” and “pantalones cortos” (short pants), because it means that a tequila has been aged in barrels for a really, really long time. In this particular case, we’re talking about Suerte’s tequila hitting charred American oak barrels for eight years.
Eight years is a long time. I know, because that’s about the same age as my kids. Although, based on the behavior of my children, I think tequila and kids age at different rates. Because my kids can still throw a mean tantrum, but Suerte’s Extra Añejo, which they’re calling “Lucky Lips,” is tantrum free, exhibiting a smooth and complex character only found in the most mature tequilas.
If you’re not familiar with Suerte, pick up a bottle of their Blanco first. It’s fresh and citrusy, with hints of lime and grass. It’s incredibly drinkable, especially for an unaged tequila. But every year since 2014, Suerte has also released a small-batch barrel aged tequila, and they’re all made from 100% tahona-crushed weber agave. That’s when they use a huge stone wheel to break down the agave, just like in the old days. So, it’s the good stuff. Their first Extra Añejo was aged for four years. This year’s version (which was released this week) is aged in American oak for twice as long. But don’t assume all that time in a whiskey barrel has turned this tequila into some sort of Mexican bourbon. Lucky Lips is a tequila through and through, with just a slight hint of an American accent
The tequila pours a light amber and emits notes citrus and fresh grass on the nose, but also something sweeter, like cherry, but with a medicinal edge. It smells like those cough drops you used to beg your mother for because they tasted like candy.
The sip is full of sharp edges and green notes. It’s thin and acidic with some of the lime/citrus up front and the wood doesn’t show up until the back end. The barrel isn’t too powerful. It’s not pushing the tequila around like a bully…it’s more like a friend lending a helping hand with some astringent wood notes and a little caramel. And then it’s peppery as hell, even a little smoky.
Putting it on ice smooths out most of the rough edges and flips the tequila on its head. When Lucky Lips is on ice, the barrel comes first delivering woody notes and caramel up front, then you remember that you’re drinking a tequila and the pepper and spice and citrus and green elements come riding in on the caboose. It’s an interesting trick: all of the elements I liked from drinking the tequila neat are there, they’re just rearranged.
Lucky Lips is incredibly quaffable—and I hate that word. I typically try to find any alternative to that word, but it applies here. Quaffable. I can’t avoid it. Pour me another.
Yes, “extra añejo:” Definitely my two favorite words in the Spanish language.