The bottle: Tequila Corralejo 99,000 Horas, $50 to $60 depending on retail chain.
The back story: Many bottles of booze bear an age statement showing how many years the spirit has been matured in barrels. But here is a tequila from Mexico’s Corralejo distillery that measures time in terms of hours — and so that is its very name, “99,000 Horas” (using the Spanish word).
We did the math: 99,000 hours equates to a little more than 11 years. But in this case, the age statement doesn’t refer just to the time spent in the barrel. Instead, it is an accounting of all the time that goes into making a bottle of tequila. As the brand notes, it takes at least eight years to grow the agave, the plant that is the source for tequila. The spirit itself is aged only 18 months, which classifies it an “añejo” (meaning “old”) tequila. In fact, there are “extra añejo” tequilas on the market that have been aged longer — Corralejo even produces one that has been aged 36 months.
The math games and classification issues notwithstanding, the idea is clearly to show the time and effort that goes into making a tequila, particularly a $50-$60 one aimed at the higher end of the market. But the demand for such spirits is clearly there. U.S. sales of super-premium tequila — the most expensive kind — have soared by 819% over the last 15 years, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. (The figure is based on supplier revenue.)
What we think about it: The tequila’s branding is a bit confusing: Initially, we indeed thought it was aged for 99,000 hours. But the liquid itself is quality stuff, an extremely smooth tequila with notes of wood and cocoa and a finish that the distillery rightly describes as long and silky.
How to enjoy it: You can put this in a margarita or other tequila-based cocktail, but we think the spirit would be lost there. Give all those 99,000 hours their due and sip this one neat.