Introduced as the world’s first range of tequilas fully matured in whisky or sherry casks, Storywood was founded by Michael Ballantyne – born in Scotland and raised in Texas. Recently launched in the UK, the project was inspired by visits to San Miguel De Ellende in Mexico (Ballantyne’s mother’s hometown), where he met Master Distiller Luis Trejo at La Cofraida. Discussing their national spirits and differences between grain, the pair concluded that whilst different, both must rest in oak to enhance the flavours. The continuous use of exclusively bourbon casks with agave spirits stood out, however, while whisky is aged in a variety of oaks to create unique flavours. This inspired the pair to combine their experience, working together on Storywood Tequila.
Hoping to redefine the category by creating a luxury sipping tequila appealing to whisky drinkers, encouraging drinkers to “Live Free, Sip Slow”, the Storywood Tequila range now contains five expressions. Each begins with 10-year-old mature 100 per cent Blue Weber agave, which is harvested from the lowland region of Jalisco, married with natural spring water from Volcan de Tequila, flowing from the mountains. The base ingredients are then twice distilled in copper pot stills at La Cofraida distillery before being aged in ex-Speyside whisky casks from Dufftown, Scotland, and Oloroso Sherry casks from Jerez, Spain. The spirit is then packaged in glass bottles inspired by brightly painted walls in Mexico and Scotch whisky’s bold age number cues.
Matured over 14 months in single malt Scotch whisky casks, Storywood Speyside 14 Añejo recently won a Double Gold in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2020. Bottled at 40 per cent abv, the liquid has prominent vegetal aromas synonymous with agave, with roasted bell pepper joining some woody notes of toasted oak, plus hazelnut and vanilla. The oaky vanilla character continues on the palate, while agave remains very much at the core of this spirit, with continued bell pepper presence alongside some more nuttiness, feint apricot, and black pepper spiciness which develops on the unusually smooth palate alongside a whisper of caramel – best served neat, over ice, or as a base for cocktails such as a riff on a classic Old Fashioned.
While the ultra-premium tequila market has witnessed exponential growth in recent years, the category, as a whole, is still plagued with a somewhat unfavourable reputation. Storywood’s range, however, is a significantly distant cousin to the cheap, get-drunk-quick tequilas of the past. Salud.
Storywood Tequila Speyside 14 Añejo Old Fashioned Recipe
50ml Storywood Tequila Speyside 14 Añejo
10ml agave syrup
2 dashes bitters
Dehydrated orange wheel,
Stir half the tequila with three cubes of ice in a glass.
Add agave syrup, bitters and two more ice cubes, before stirring again.
Add rest of the tequila before stirring once more. Add more ice cubes if room and garnish with a dehydrated orange wheel.