The new Familia Camarena Tequila is a 100% blue agave tequila with big bucks behind its launch. The tequila is barely on the shelves (launching in March of this year), but has already inked big sponsorship deals with Chivas USA, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the San Francisco Giants. The bottle and marketing campaign don’t say it, but the tequila is a brand of Ernest and Julio Gallo Winery, the world’s largest family-owned winery and the largest exporter of California wine.
Familia Camarena is only available as a blanco and reposado, and both have a suggested retail price of $20 for a 750ml bottle. Clearly Gallo is targeting a similar demographic as Casa Cuervo’s 1800 Tequila and Sauza’s Hornitos. Proximo Spirits, the distributor of 1800, even filed a legal complaint accusing Gallo of designing a bottle that is “confusingly similar” to 1800 Tequila. Familia Camarena offers agave flavor that is softer and a little sweeter and more floral than 1800 or Hornitos – there’s room for everyone on the shelf.
Familia Camarena Silver Tasting Notes
The silver, unaged, Familia Camarena has a very sweet bouquet, dominated by scents of brown sugar and spice which overwhelms the muted smell of roasted agave. A very pleasant, sugary sweet taste of floral agave permeates the palate on first sip. This quickly gives way to a short finish that leaves behind a bittersweet aftertaste of brown sugar and unripe pear. The tequila evokes the flavor profile of other highlands produced tequilas like 901 Silver and Karma; however, there is a discernable difference in taste (and price) but it is certainly a unique entry into the under $30 premium price point.
Tequila Examiner Grade: B-
Familia Camarena Reposado Tasting Notes
With only two months in both used and new American oak barrels, Familia Camarena reposado has a nicely balanced nose. Unlike the blanco, the reposado has a very nice agave scent backed with notes of vanilla, brown sugar, and just a hint of tropical fruit. There is a strong wood flavor upon entry, but it is soon joined by the taste of sweet agave backed with soft caramel and just a hint of butter and cinnamon. Like the blanco, there is a quick finish, but the reposado has a woody and herbal aftertaste.
Tequila Examiner Grade: B
Cocktail Mixing Notes
This tequila adds a soft and smooth character to your tequila cocktails, although it does not work well in cocktails with agave nectar. I’m not sure why this is, but both margaritas I made using the Premium Margarita recipe (each with a different brand of agave nectar) just did not taste very good. Familia Camarena works great in a traditional margarita made with lime juice and triple sec.
About Familia Camarena Tequila
Familia Camarena tequila is distilled at Casa Tequilera Casco Viejo (soon to be renamed Casa Camarena), founded by Don Agustin Camarena in 1938 in the town of Arandas. Harvested agave pinas, sourced from the highlands region of Jalisco, are cut in half and cooked for two days in stone ovens. The pinas are milled to collect the juice, which is mixed with water and put into a steel distillation tank. Wine yeast is added and the juice ferments for several days. Once complete, it is distilled twice in small alembic pot stills. Casa Camerena is overseen by Mauricio Camarena, a sixth generation family member, and Familia Camarena was developed by Master Distiller Meguel Cedeño Cruz.