What we’re drinking: G4 6-Year Extra Añejo tequila
Where it’s from: Felipe Camarena’s family has been crafting tequila in Los Altos de Jalisco since 1937. For G4, Camarena and his sons, Luis Felipe and Alan, continue on with this heritage (G4 is named for the four generations of family in the tequila biz.)
Why we’re drinking these: This line of additive-free tequilas was actually recommended to me, on the sly, by another tequila brand a few years back when I was in Guadalajara. I fell in the love with the G4 blanco soon after — it’s citrusy and grassy, with a slight minerality, an exquisite mouthfeel and even a hint of cloves.
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There’s a lot to love here: G4 uses estate-grown agave and its water source is a mix of collected rainwater and spring water from their own farm. The liquid undergoes a natural fermentation process and the distillery works with a multigenerational yeast that Felipe’s grandfather started. And they’re pretty good about mocking questionable tequila trends.
But this isn’t just about purity and old-school methods. You can also credit master distiller Felipe Camarena for introducing some interesting new methods to the tequila-making process. To start, he crafted a handmade metal tahona nicknamed “Felipestein” to crush the agave. “He has two engineering degrees, and he’s always tinkering,” says Shawn Miller, the managing partner at PKGD Group, the spirits importer that’s bringing G4 to the U.S. “He’s also doing a wood fermentation project, for example, and it ferments right on the [agave] fibers. It extracts a bigger agave flavor.” (Note: Not all G4 releases utilize this process, though the 6-Year does.)
Still, as much as I loved G4’s blanco, I was concerned that this passion wouldn’t extend to an extra-aged release. Sometimes tequilas after just a few years of barrel maturation lose the agave character; it’s why so many añejo and extra añejo releases feel closer to brandy or whiskey (not a bad thing, but not what I’m looking for in a tequila).
Miller assuages my concerns. “We use old barrels, over and over again,” he says. “And where we store them: It’s a dank place underneath the floor of the distillery. The air does not move, the barrels are very old, we don’t turn ‘em … it’s the opposite of a bourbon-aging scenario.”
How it tastes: Aged for six years in Dickel Tennessee whiskey barrels and bottled at barrel strength (86 proof), this special release thankfully maintains the full agave flavor, with plenty of citrus and pepper, while adding a bit of the expected tobacco, leather and baking spice notes from the ex-whiskey barrels. Bright and earthy, this is a sipping tequila for people who want the actual tequila character.
Fun fact: If the Camarena family name (see above) sounds familiar, it’s because another family member, Carlos Camarena, is the master distiller at the much-loved El Tesoro distillery.
Where to buy: The G4 Extra Añejo, packaged in handmade, Brazilian Parotta wood boxes, is limited to 1000 numbered bottles at $500. So, uh, good luck! If you can’t dig one up, the point here is that the entire G4 line is something special (we’re partial to the G4 Blanco Madera, a higher-proof take on their unaged tequila that also utilizes similar fermentation methods as the 6-Year).
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