Z Tequila is the product of Jose “Pepe” Zevada. As the story goes, he spent his career in the spirits industry working with brands like Jack Daniels, Sauza and Espolon Tequila, among others. It was during this time that, as he gained experience and refined his palate, he began formulating his own proprietary process for producing tequila. The end result is the 100% agave Z Tequila, available in three expressions – blanco, reposado and anejo.
Z Tequila’s recipe requires mature agave plants between seven and nine years old. After the agave is fermented, the juice is distilled in short column stills. The finished product is either bottled as Z Blanco Tequila or put into new Canadian white oak barrels to age (this is different than the industry standard of aging tequilas in used whiskey barrels). The Reposado is aged for nine months in oak, while the Anejo matures for 21 months before bottling.
Z Blanco Tequila is crystal clear, fresh and agave forward, with light grassy notes and a hint of sweetness. It’s very smooth with almost no fire. A slight peppery bite brings it home, and it finishes short and clean. 80 proof / $30
Z Reposado Tequila pours a very light straw color in the glass. It’s spicy on the nose, with some oak and white pepper leading the way. Drink up to taste more spice and some floral notes, different than the vanilla and caramel found in many reposados. It’s earthy and complex, with more wood influences than the color indicates. The finish is long and warm. 80 proof / $32
Z Anejo Tequila is shimmering gold-to-amber in the glass and has the sweetest nose of the three expressions. The 21 months in oak impart some vanilla and butterscotch flavors, and there’s a background of cooked agave and spices. The mouthfeel is more viscous than the blanco and reposado, and the lingering finish is dry and spicy. 80 proof / $34
Founded in 2008, the Austin-based Pepe Zevada brand is still in its infancy, with the majority of adoption being in Texas. But it’s doing some good things, and Z Tequila enjoyed recent success at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, where the blanco took home a double gold medal. If you find yourself in Texas, or if Z Tequila hits store shelves near you, consider scoring a bottle for yourself. The liquid’s worth drinking, and the price point’s just right.