Personal growth, you see?
I contacted Brown-Forman to see if I could get some more information on the cocktails, mainly because I didn't know much about them. The Margarita was self-explanatory, but the Paloma? A Spicy Mango Margarita? I was intrigued. They were kind enough to send not just their press releases on them but samples too. Aw shucks. Pictured here is the sticker on each of the can:
Oh, the coolest part? The box had a label on it that said "JOURNALISTIC".
Oh yeah. That's right. I'm a journalist. Just let it soak in. Let it seep in to the core. I qualify as a "journalist" in the eyes of Brown-Forman. Aaaaanyway, here are the reviews:
el Jimador Spicy Mango Margarita:
I was expecting this to be BRIGHT. RED. I'm not sure why, actually. I was kinda assuming it was going to be like a slightly fruity tequila michelada like thing. Well, actually, more like a fruity Bloody Mary with tequila instead of vodka and club soda. Smell is super citrus and heavy mango. Taste is reminiscent of something. It's not particularly spicy really. It's more spicy in a "Oh hey, it has a fresh ginger afterburn in it." It's quite sweet with absolutely no hint of tequila in it at all and apparently it has triple sec in it. It really doesn't taste like its alcoholic which could be a significant problem. It is very easy to drink. Actually tastes slightly like a liquid medicine I took as a child, now that I think about it. As you drink it, the spice warms up a bit but it's still not what I'd call "spicy". It's ok. The taste kinda bothers me a bit, aside from the fact that reminds me of my childhood illnesses. It kinda tastes like someone melted a peach sorbet and an orange creamsicle into a bowl and you drank it. If you like peach or mango, go for it but I think I'll pass.
Edit: The more you drink, the spicier it gets. I'm about half-way through and the spice is starting to really come through. The spice is all in the back of the throat so it entices you to drink more to put it out. Tricksy little hobbitses.
el Jimador Margarita:
Comes out a milky/cloudy color like the last one. While the other was slightly red tinged, this one is slightly green. Smells rather neutral for a margarita. Hint of lime and definitely a hint of tequila in there. It has that malty sweet agave smell to it. This is actually quite nice. While the lime certainly isn't fresh squeezed, it has a pleasant balance of citrus, malty delicious tequila, and oddly enough...salt. I swear to the gods above, the finish has a slightly salty tinge to it that really helps to make the drink something special. They say there's triple sec in it but I don't taste it in this one.
el Jimador Paloma:
I had to look up what exactly a Paloma is. Think of this as the south of the border Salty Dog. Comprised of tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and salt it is close to already being my favorite canned drink. I love Salty Dogs and I'm growing rather fond of tequila so we'll see how this goes. Nose is strong, strong grapefruit. Smoky, malty tequila in the background as well. The tequila is very noticeable on the nose which is a complete role reversal from the others. This one actually smells like it's got hooch in it. How does it taste?
It's incredible. It isn't too sweet and despite the grapefruit nose, isn't overbearing in the citrus department. The grapefruit is complemented by an aggressively smoky tequila, providing a wonderful counterbalance to the intense citrus. Oh man, the Paloma is a true winner for me.
So here's the rub. Overall, a solid line-up of ready to drink beverages. Not offensive in the least and even at its worst its not something that I would refuse. My least favorite was the Spicy Mango Margarita with my favorite being the Paloma. I think the crux of this also lies in Brown-Forman's treatment of the base spirit. While I haven't had el Jimador in its unmixed state, if it is a high quality tequila it should be featured on par with the mixed ingredients, not hidden behind them. Aside from the medicine correlation I made that turned me off personally, one of the things that bothered me about the Spicy Mango Margarita was that it was hiding what it should be proudly extolling: the tequila. Sorry Brown-Forman, but I don't turn to you for delicious cocktail mixers. I turn to you for quality spirits. I think the best one was the Paloma because it worked WITH the flavor of the tequila, rather than just trying to mask it. Many people find tequila to be the shot that seals the deal on the night. The one where, after a few, the next thing they remember is riding a Wal-Mart motorized shopping cart around a mall (nowhere near a Wal-Mart) without pants on and coated in a fine mist of KFC gravy and vomit (the contents of which may and/or may not contain more of said KFC gravy). A good tequila can be paired equally well with a simple mixer and it shouldn't be relegated to the "what did I do" shot at the end of the night. I will definitely pick up some more of the Palomas if I see them but I strongly urge Brown-Forman to think of the tequila as not just a way to get so blitzed you pay a fifty cents to puke in a newspaper vending machine but rather as a flavor component to their mixes.