Espolon is a tequila brand produced in Los Altos, Jalisco at the Casa San Nicolas facility (NOM 1440) and owned by the Campari group. Originally created in 1998 by Master Distiller Cirilo Oropeza, Espolon is made from 100% Blue Weber Agave and has a core line of Blanco, Reposado, and Anejo tequila, each bottled at 40% ABV.
Production of Espolon Tequila
Espolon begins with 100% Blue Weber Agave, which is roasted in a low-pressure autoclave, crushed on a roller mill, and then mixed with deep well water from under the facility in Jalisco to ferment in stainless steel tanks. After fermentation, it is distilled twice, once through a pot still and once through a column still. It is then cold filtered and (for the reposado and anejo) aged in American white oak barrels. It is bottled at 40% abv.
Reviewed: Espolon Tequila Product Line
The Blanco is the entry point for this brand, and has notes of cooked agave, black and white pepper, grass, and citrus. It is a vegetal expression that works very well in cocktails and mixed drinks. It is bottled at 40% and, unlike many agave spirits on the international market, it does not contain added sugar.
Expect the same cooked agave and grassy notes as the blanco, with the addition of oak, vanilla and butterscotch. It is bottled at 40% ABV after being aged for two months in American white oak barrels. It’s great for sipping neat or for mixing in cocktails.
Double barrel aged in both American oak and French chardonnay barrels, the Reposado Chardonnay is a nontraditional reposado. It has strong notes of vanilla and cooked agave, as well as orchard fruits like pear and apple, and a hint of celery. It is aged for two months in American oak and one month in Chardonnay barrels.
Designed as a sipping tequila, the Espolon Anejo is aged for 11 months in American oak barrels before being aged for an additional month in Wild Turkey Bourbon barrels. It is distilled at or near bottling proof, meaning there is minimal adjustment after distilling, other than the aging process. Bottled at 40% ABV, you can expect notes of dried fruits, bourbon, oak, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, cooked agave, black pepper, and butterscotch.
The Espolon Cristalino is a blend of Anejo and Extra Anejo tequila which has been charcoal filtered to remove all the color expected from an aged product. It is a little low in the ABV department, at only 35%, but it is very easy to sip.
Is Espolon worth the price?
While some claim the quality of the product dropped after being acquired by the Campari group, the bottom line is that Espolon is still a 100% Blue Weber Agave tequila with no added sugar or flavoring, available at an affordable price. There are a handful of brands that make for good alternatives, but Espolon is definitely worth its price, considering its quality and how widely available it has become.
Alternatives to Espolon at Comparable Prices
A solid alternative to Espolon. It is another 100% Blue Weber Agave tequila made without added sweeteners and priced affordably.
Another great Jalisco highland brand available on a budget. Tapatio is affordable and authentic. Made without additives and using traditional techniques. It is bottled at 40% ABV, but keep an eye out for the 55% ABV Tapatio 110.
History of Espolon
The history of Espolon begins far before a bottle was ever produced. Cirilo Oropeza worked in the tequila industry for over fifty years. As legend has it, he was inspired to create Espolon after guests at a party ignored a bottle of tequila he brought in favor of an imported brandy. He set out to create a tequila that would be seen as every bit as sophisticated and delicious as any imported European alcohol. In 1995, he decided to use his expertise to open his own distillery. By 1998, he had produced his first bottle of Espolon. In 2009, the distillery and brand were purchased by the Campari group, with Oropeza staying on as master distiller until his passing in 2020. The Espolon brand derives its name from the spurs worn by fighting roosters, and the imagery associated with cockfighting is present in much of the brand’s artwork.
Cocktails with Espolon Tequila
True to the Ski Mask
1 oz Espolon Blanco
.5 oz Mezcal
.75 oz Cynar
.5 oz Sweet Vermouth
.25 Ancho Verde
2 dashes Chartreuse elixir Vegetal
3 drops Salt Tincture
Stir, Strain over rocks, Express orange peel as garnish. Created by Nick Lappen at Backbar circa 2021.
2 oz Espolon Blanco
.75 Lime Juice
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake, Strain over rocks, garnish with a lime wheel. From Charles H Baker’s Gentleman’s Companion Volume 2.