Change for its own sake can be a good thing. While it can force us to re-evaluate our preconceptions and look at things in a new way, it’s not progress. It’s too haphazard: too erratic, and too disorganized. Progress implies a goal, a purpose, an intention: to take something that already exists, something well-established, and improve upon it.
With Calirosa Tequila, the Real Family is engaged in just such a venture: the marriage of tradition and innovation. They drew on the State of California for their inspiration, their mission being to fuse its culture of diversity and inclusiveness with an age-old technique discovered back in 1707 by Diego Osorio.
They have some powerful allies in this endeavor. Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine and his wife Behati Prinsloo, the Angel in every Victoria’s Secret runway show, are both investors (to the extent that Behati has been quoted as saying that she considers Calirosa her third baby).
In addition, marketing and distribution in 14 states across the US are handled by Southern Glazer, a company renowned for building brands (Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila) and the efficacies of their route-to-market strategy.
According to Ray Lombard, Southern Glazer’s executive vice-president: “This is an exciting brand that goes far beyond the bottle – it’s a lifestyle that tells a story all its own, really bringing something fresh to the table.”
A Brief History of Calirosa Tequila
The Real family of Amatitán, a municipality in the Mexican state of Jalisco, started making tequila in 1942.
Roberto and Fernando Real manage the operation of the business while Luis Trejo Rodriguez is their master distiller. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that Rodriguez’s father was also a master distiller, as was his grandfather.
Calirosa Tequila as a brand was launched in July of 2021.
How Calirosa Tequila is Made
All tequilas are equal in that they all start out the same way. The Blue Weber agave plant – a succulent with long, pointed leaves that have more in common with the aloe than it does with the cactus – is cooked, crushed, mixed with yeast, fermented, then distilled into alcohol.
Blue Weber is the preferred strain of agave because it has the highest sugar content.
Every brand has its own variation on the basic process, depending on the kind of result they want to achieve. Calirosa uses agave that has been allowed to mature fully over the course of 7 to 9 years, then goes a step further by only using plants with a 26% concentration of sugar rather than the 22-24% required by law.
The agave is cooked slowly for several days in brick ovens, then crushed with ‘tahonas’, hand-hewn wheels of volcanic rock (a typical example of which can be watched here). This mush of fibers and juice undergoes a 50-hour fermentation before being twice-distilled and left to age in bourbon barrels made of American white oak.
The Calirosa Difference
Mention was made earlier of a revolutionary process developed by Diego Osorio.
Osorio was a Spaniard who visited Mexico at the start of the 18th Century. He heard that the indigenous people were making an alcoholic beverage called tequila, tasted it, found that it was good, and started exporting it to Spain.
At some point in 1707, he realized that tequila shipped out in barrels that had been used to store a fortified white wine known as sherry was not only tasty, but its flavor was also unique and original.
What the makers of Calirosa Tequila have done is replicate this technique with barrels that have been used to age Californian red wine (hence the ‘rosa’ in Calirosa) rather than sherry.
P.S. The wood of choice for making wine, whiskey, and bourbon barrels is always and forever oak. The second choice is chestnut, then cherry, mulberry, and acacia.
Calirosa Tequila Expressions
This expression is aged for 30 days, during which time the wine color is leached from the wood, staining the Calirosa Rosa Blanco its signature coral pink hue.
The red wine residue also leaches from the wood, imbuing the tequila with the aroma of strawberry, raspberry, and honey while the flavor is predominantly that of cooked agave: cherry, berry, and orange (a far cry from the profile evoked by charred American oak).
Aged for 18 months (the minimum qualification for an añejo is one year), enough time to bring forward the taste of cooked agave while adding hints of vanilla, nutmeg, toffee, cinnamon, caramel, and chocolate to the flavor.
As with all alcoholic beverages, the color deepens and darkens over time. Calirosa Añejo is a golden rose color with a coppery sheen. Its aroma is fruity.
Aged for 3 years. It’s a deep, rich tomato red almost the color of oxygenated blood with a flavor profile that encompasses caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, and honey.
Calirosa Cinco Años Extra Añejo Limited Edition
Aged for 5 years, this is a high-end premium sipping tequila. Its aroma is dark chocolate and wood oak, and its flavor is butterscotch, mocha, and raisin with a long, cognac-like finish.
Calirosa Tequila Attributes
|Taste||Aroma||Body & color||Finish||Distinguishing Feature(s)|
|Calirosa Blanco||Cooked agave, cherry, berry, and orange||Strawberry, raspberry, and honey||Light-bodied, coral pink||Smooth, bright, crisp||Aged for one month in oak red wine barrels|
|Calirosa Añejo||Cooked agave Azul flavor; traces of vanilla, nutmeg, toffee, cinnamon, caramel, and chocolate||Fruity||Medium-bodied, golden rose||Very smooth with a warm, creamy finish||Aged for a year and a half in oak red wine barrels|
|Calirosa Extra Añejo||Cooked agave Azul flavor; caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, and honey||Dark chocolate, vanilla, and butterscotch||Full-bodied, a deep, rich, tomato red||Ultra-smooth and silky with a slightly sweet aftertaste||Aged for 3 years in oak red wine barrels|
|Calirosa Cinco Años Extra Añejo Limited Edition||Butterscotch, mocha, and raisin||Dark chocolate and wood oak||Full-bodied, blood orange||A long cognac-like finish||Aged for 5 years in oak red wine barrels|
Calirosa Tequila Pricing Table (750ml)
|Calirosa Extra Añejo||$251|
|Calirosa Cinco Años Extra Añejo Limited Edition||$299|
Alternatives to Calirosa Tequila
Lobos 1707 Tequila
- This brand was founded by Diego Osorio, the great-great-grandson of the Diego Osorio who first commercialized the process of aging tequila in wine casks.
- Lobos 1707’s chief sponsor is LeBron ‘The King’ James. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maverick Carter are also investors.
- Lobos 1707 employs the solera method: a fractional blending of different vintages that guarantees consistent quality across a range of different expressions.
- The Lobos 1707 Joven (‘young’) goes for $48, the Lobos 1707 Reposado $52, and the Lobos 1707 Extra Añejo $168 (all bottles are 750ml).
- Kylie Jenner’s brand is traditional to the point of being staid. If you prefer a brand that sticks to the tried-and-true, this is the brand for you.
- Agave Azul (another name for Blue Weber) is cooked for two days, crushed by tahonas, fermented for 70 hours, then twice-distilled. The finished product is aged in white oak.
- 818 Tequila comes in four expressions: Blanco (white; also called silver), reposado (rested), añejo (aged), and Eight Reserve. Their flavors and aromas vary depending on the expression you’re drinking but by and large, they’re centered on the agave profile: slightly sweet with citrus and vanilla overtones.
- The Blanco goes for $45, the reposado for $59, the añejo for $69, and the Eight Reserve for $200. All bottles are 750ml.
- Like 818 Tequila, George Clooney and Rande Gerber’s brand is explicitly traditional except for one detail: it is aged in stainless steel, not wood (unavoidable if a tequila that is popular worldwide is going to meet the demand).
- Again, like 818 Tequila, the Casamigos’ flavor and aroma are typical of tequila in general: cooked agave, citrus, and vanilla prevail.
- $45 for the Blanco, $50 for the reposado, and $55 for the añejo. All bottles are 750ml.
El Bandido Yankee Tequila
- Founded by Jim Bob Morris and Chris Chelios, its reposado expression is aged in re-charred, stripped white oak to enhance its flavor profile.
- $39 for a bottle of Blanco, $44 for a bottle of reposado.
- El Bandido is a member of A.C.R.E.D., a business coalition that invests 1% of its profits in the community that makes its product.
How To Drink Calirosa Tequila
How you drink Calirosa Tequila depends largely on the expression. If you’re drinking a premium tequila (an Añejo or Extra Añejo), you might want to forgo the mixers and drink it neat, at least for a couple of rounds, so that you get to experience the brand unadulterated.
If it’s a Blanco or a Reposado, go nuts. Where cocktails are concerned, tequila and vodka are virtually interchangeable. Anything you can do to vodka you can do to tequila and vice versa.
Here are a couple of recipes to get you started:
- Fill a suitable container half-full of ice.
- Pour in 1 oz. of silver tequila, 1 oz. of citron vodka, 3 oz. of lime juice, and 3 oz. of club soda.
- Shake vigorously for a full minute.
- Garnish with lime peel.
- Assemble the following ingredients: a shot of Espresso (if you don’t own a coffee machine, you can use the cold brew concentrate), 2 Oz. Calirosa Añejo, ¾ Oz. coffee liqueur, and a ¼ Oz. agave syrup.
- If you prefer, you can replace the coffee liqueur with Kahlua, Baileys Irish Cream liqueur, or Tia Maria.
- Cover the bottom of your cocktail shaker with ice. If you don’t own a cocktail shaker, a mason jar is a perfectly good substitute.
- Shake the mixture for ten seconds, then pour through a strainer.
- Garnish with 3 coffee beans.
- Serve chilled.
- This has become the default method of tequila consumption, even though it is only really observed outside of Mexico.
- Hold a wedge of lemon between your thumb and forefinger.
- Lick the skin between your thumb and forefinger then sprinkle it with salt.
- Lick the salt, bolt the tequila, and bite into the lemon.
The Calirosa website has a host of original and innovative recipes in a cocktail section that is well worth exploring.
Is Calirosa Tequila real tequila?
Categorically, yes. The Mexican Government has a set of standards regarding what is and isn’t tequila that is enforced globally. Tequila producers who pass the test are awarded a NOM number that is displayed on the label of every bottle.
Isn’t the best tequila the one with the worm in it?
The beverage with the worm in it is mezcal, not tequila.
Isn’t the best tequila the one with the gold label?
No. In fact, the gold label is a warning that this is a ‘mixto’: a cheap, artificially-colored tequila to which flavors have been added.