Casa Noble Crystal Tequila: the best blanco/silver tequila we’ve ever had.  Add a bit of age and you get a reposado tequila.  The special edition named for company director Carlos Santana: Casa Noble Santana Reserve 5 Years Anejo.  The top of the line, Casa Noble Alta Bellezza, is as great as tequila gets. But let us quickly say: They’re all great! (Photos courtesy Casa Noble)
You’ve no doubt seen more ads or advertorials that promise “the finest tequila in the world.”
We haven’t had a side-by-side comparison tasting of them, but we have tasted most of the , and most recently had have the most exquisite tequila tasting of our long life, with the founder and master distiller of Casa Noble Tequila, Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo.
Don’t take only my word for it: Musician Carlos Santana preferred Casa Noble to the extent that he joined the board and had a tequila aged for five years (the bottle bears his signature).
Casa Noble has two more features that will especially interest some consumers: It’s certified organic and certified kosher (by Star-K).
The best agave plants from the species Agave tequilana (commonly called blue agave), aged to maturity (10-14 years) before harvesting.
As with everything, time is money. The most time-intensive production techniques, from roasting the agave piñas (they look like pineapples) to 100% natural fermentation and triple distillation (most tequilas are only distilled twice).
Yet, the prices are reasonable for such great spirits.
THE EXPRESSIONS OF TEQUILA
If you know spirits, you know there are different expressions based on age. In the case of tequila, the expressions are aged according to law:
THE JOY OF CASA NOBLE TEQUILA
First, let us say that we had the privilege of tasting Alta Belleza, the first release of Casa Noble’s Colección del Fundador. It is offeredin extremely limited quantities, priced at $1,200, and for those who don’t concern themselves with price, well worth it. For a spectacular tequila gift, look no further.
The rest of us can find joy in Casa Noble’s Crystal (the best blanco/silver we’ve ever had) and the other expressions, all of which are affordable to reasonably affordable.
These are the suggested retail prices (which, of course, can vary by retailer):
Of course, if you want to make Margaritas with it, it’s your palate and your right! The Crystal will give an extra lime lift to the fresh lime juice in the cocktail.
TEQUILA, CHEESE & CHOCOLATE TASTING
We had our second memorable Casa Noble experience last week, at Murray’s Cheese. There, Adam Goddu, a general manager at Murray’s and a Certified Cheese Professional, joined Pepe Hermosillo to escort a group of food writers through a celestial pairing of great tequilas and memorable cheeses.
Most of us are so oriented to having cheese with wine or beer, that we don’t think of serving a cheese tasting plate with tequila. But with a glorious tequila like Casa Noble, the pairing is as natural as a Burgundy or a Barolo.
We asked Adam Goddu to advise all of us on how to put together a pairing of cheese and tequila.
Then we thought: Add a chocolate pairing and make a terrific party of the four food groups (alcohol, cheese, bread, chocolate).
In general, what do you look for in a cheese/drink pairing?
Adam: We look for some magical math: 1 + 1 = 3. You want the items to complement each other but you also want the flavor combination to evolve into something more.
We go by three basic pairing principles: “Like with Like,” “Opposites Attract” and “What Grows Together, Goes Together.” These work for pairings with crackers, jams and honeys as well as drinks.
Certain regional pairings (Loire Valley goat’s milk cheeses with a crisp white from that region) are a natural pairing…they’ve been made in the same area for centuries. I personally prefer the opposites approach: if you have a rich, decadent sheep’s milk or triple crème, you want a white with a strong acidic back bone (and perhaps some bubbles!).
Why do tequila and cheese work well together?
Adam: I think wine and beer hog the limelight when it comes to traditional cheese pairings; but tequila can be just as versatile and special with the right combination or flavors.
It can be difficult to pair cheese with high-alcohol beverages because that booziness can overpower many elements. When you have tequila with nuance and charm like Casa Noble’s Single Barrel Añejo, the sky is the limit. A funky washed rind or fudgy, spicy blue cheese pair wonderfully.
Talk us through some of the more specific pairings of different tequilas.
Adam: There are general rules you can use with certain styles, but you really need to remember that no two expressions* are exactly alike. Blanco and Joven [the two youngest expressions] are quite boozy [alcoholic] and pack a punch, so you need a cheese strong enough to stand its ground. [Editor’s note: We find Casa Noble tequilas to be so finely crafted, even the youngest are not alcoholic or “hot.”]
Higher butterfat cheeses do very well overall (sheep’s or water buffalo’s milk cheeses).
Anejo’s oaky/vanilla notes lean toward Alpine cheeses with caramel and roasted almond flavors dancing beautifully together.
Blanco tends to have a clarity and subtly with sweet corn and grass coming to the forefront. You don’t want a big brassy cheese to overpower the tequila in this case so sticking with a milder, “sweeter” Brie style is perfect.
Adam: I like a challenge, so finding the perfect cheese for Joven was a lot of fun.
As far as straight up tastiness, the barrel-aged tequilas (reposado, añejo) allow a bit more freedom. You can play around with Gruyère, a clothbound Cheddar and a mild blue (Gorgonzola, Stilton) and find that each pairing brings out a different side of the tequila.
For our tasting of Casa Noble’s Crystal, Joven, Reposado, Añejo and Single Barrel Añejo, Adam created the following pairings, served with honey, Marcona almonds, dried fruits, baguette slices and crackers.
While the pairings were “textbook,” based on flavor profiles, we couldn’t find a mis-match. That’s what happens when all items are the best of their kind.
Chocolate and tequila are a delicious marriage, whether the groom is young (an unaged blanco), old (a well-aged extra añejo), or any age in-between.
Plain chocolates are the purest way to merge the flavors. We like:
 All of Casa Noble’s tequilas are delicious with cheese. Shown here: Greensward and Stilton (photo courtesy Casa Noble).  Greensward, We love chocolate with tequila.  Bianco Sardo, a Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese.  Cossett Bassett, a beloved Stilton (cheese photos courtesy Murray’s Cheese).  Casa Noble’s Crystal, with its lilt of lime, is a perfect pairing with white chocolate (photo courtesy Amedei Chocolate).  For milk or dark chocolate, head to the aged tequilas (photo courtesy La Chocolate).  Aztec” chocolates with chile and other Mexican spices work well with tequila (photo courtesy Bespoke Chocolate).
*An expression is a different variation (think recipe) of the distillery’s spirit. The variations can be based on age, single grain/malt vs. blend (whiskey), single barrel/cask, etc. The highest-regarded distilleries can produce limited editions expressions that are aged longer, with other features that appeal to a connoisseur’s palate.