There’s an agave-fueled feud building.
For Rancho Alegre (the Happy Ranch) and Rancho La Joya (Jewel Ranch), neighbors, proud distillers of some of Jalisco’s finest Highland offerings, are in a feverish standoff with one another, no longer amicable amigos, on the verge of a battle that is sure to be waged not over land, political preferences, or religion, but something even more sacred: Reposado tequila.
Perhaps this was long overdue? Truly, how long can competing Ranchos churning out similar spirits stay congenial? Or perhaps I, myself, created this feud for promotional purposes?
No matter the latter being true, someone has to step in; someone has to try and make things right before someone makes the first regrettable decision in a tequila war that will surely affect not just the pair of Ranchos but the stability and livelihood of all of Jalisco, birthplace of Mariachi, home to over seven million Jaliscienses.
And the only way these now bitter rivals can be dissuade from such a course is to remind them what makes them so valuable to one another in the first place: The idea that they compliment each other, a Venn diagram.
Take what you will from the Venn diagram.
For me, though, La Joya is the more complex of the two. But don’t for a second believe that makes Alegre inferior. What Alegre lacks in complexity it makes up for in balance and quality, a tequila that stands firm between blanco and añejo, with traditional blanco qualities of white pepper and herbal notes, yes, but also a stellar caramel relief more in line with aged tequila. Alegre is clean, makes a fine top shelf margarita with Gran Marnier, and is quite nice on the pocket book.
As for La Joya, the tequila sipper need only read this Venn to be intrigued. Coconut, banana, and tobacco? It’s quite the variety and highly enjoyable. Savor it neat in a snifter, but don’t be shy playing around with some tequila cocktails — this a versatile spirit. It’s darker than Alegre and a bit more expensive, but both, for what they cost and how they serve the palate, should not disappoint.
I hope I’ve helped alleviate enough tension between the two ranchos — I’d hate to see things get out of hand. I hope each side can dig deep and realize that although they’re selling the same product, there’s no need to be rivals. After all, they are two rather different interpretations of reposado tequila — both admirable for their quality and taste — that should have no problem living side by side on our tequila shelf.