I’m excited to finally review a product I can wholeheartedly endorse; I found the blanco Tequila Aviòn (warning: mind-bogglingly, their website designer thinks it’s ok (in 2011!) to have a combination of a popup and fullscreen window) that was recently sent me to be legitimately delicious.  Aviòn is owned by a private jet company (it’s been pointed out to me that this is not quite right) was founded by the executives of a private jet company (! – hence the name), and its MSRP is more than I am usually willing to pay for a blanco ($40-50), but despite these peas in the proverbial mattress, the sample I was sent last week has proved to be both versatile and delicious, and I’ve really enjoyed playing with it in a couple of cocktails.

Aviòn claims that they work with a “fifth-generation agave farmer” to grow their agave.  I hope this means that they are attempting to break the cycle of consolidation and impoverishment that currently characterizes much tequila production (source).  They also have made the odd decision to focus their brand differentiation on what I like to call the “Jack Daniel’s” filtration model.  Apparently they use some kind of activated carbon filtering to make “the smoothest tasting tequila”.  The current trend in tequila marketing (after, what, ten years of trying and failing to make tequila the new vodka?) is still to try to make tequila tame and approachable to people who think Guinness is a little too flavorful.  This is a terrible way to produce and market a spirit as distinctive and interesting as tequila, and, in Tequila Aviòn’s case, I am very pleased to report that any attempt to dumb down the product has not succeeded.  It is fiery, flavorful, and interesting; smooth is not a word I’d use to describe it, thank god.

Straight up, blanco Tequila Aviòn has a pleasingly smoky nose, with some hints of tropical fruit and the classic agave greenery.  I presume the high degree of smokiness can be traced to the oven-roasting that the producers use to render the agave’s inulin into fermentable sugars; many of the larger tequila producers now use steaming (basically autoclaving) to do the same thing, resulting in sweeter, milder, and less complex tequilas.  Tastewise, Aviòn has a pleasant burn, with the smoke carrying through into background notes of agave and grapefruit peel.  To my mind, it’s almost a little cousin to the Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal, with a similar (although less aggressive) mixture of sweet and smokey phenolics.

I liked the Aviòn enough to use it in two separate cocktails; one is an old favorite, and the other is something I made up on the spot.

Tequila Old-Fashioned (adapted from the NYT)

  • 2 oz tequila (Tequila Aviòn)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 dashes Bittermens Mole Xocolatl bitters
  • 1 cube sugar
  • 1 wide swath orange peel
  • 1 barspoon water
    In a rocks glass, muddle the bitters, sugar cube, orange peel, and water until the cube is mostly dissolved.  Top with tequila, stir to combine, and add ice to fill (I used my awesome big ice cubes).

When I first started drinking Tequila Old-Fashioneds, I used Sauza Hornitos (I know, embarrassing), which was sweet and boring enough that I’d never have thought of using anything younger than a reposado in an Old-Fashioned, and even then it was best topped up with a half ounce of mezcal.  The Aviòn seemed interesting enough to make a go of it on its own, and, indeed, this was a delicious drink.  I’d still love to try it with Aviòn’s reposado or añejo, but the blanco makes a quite pleasing Old-Fashioned.  With the warm spices from the two bitters, and the extra citrus from the peel, this was at once complex and easily drinkable.  It had been a while since I’d made one of these, and this reminded me of why it’s retained a space in my cocktail stable.

Layover (provisional airline-related name, accepting alternative suggestions)

  • 1 1/2 oz tequila (Tequila Aviòn)
  • 3/4 oz Bonal
  • 3/4 oz Aperol
  • 1 dash cinnamon tincture (homemade)
    Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with an orange peel.

This started out as a Negroni variation, and slowly moved further and further from that original idea.  The warm smoke of the Aviòn seemed to call out for some spice, and my cinnamon tincture complemented the tequila nicely, just as it does with mezcal, normally.  This turned out both complex and bright, nicely balanced between sweet and bitter, herbal and spicy.  Plus, with the Aperol, it was a beautiful color.

All in all, I really enjoyed Aviòn, and it’s nice to be able to say of something I was sent to review that it was legitimately worth the time I spent with it.  I look forward to drinking more of it in the future.