Serious Eats: Drinks
Is Avion (The Tequila On Entourage) Any Good?
I liked HBO's Entourage. Cute actors, silly lifestyle, it's all good television to me. In the show, Turtle (loyal, hapless friend of the big star, Vince) goes into business with a tequila producer, and at first I was surprised to learn that the product in the story is a real tequila. (And I was more surprised to learn that the Entourage placement didn't cost a pretty penny: according to this article, HBO doesn't allow brands to purchase product placement, but the founder of Avion grew up with Doug Ellin, the creator of Entourage, and Ellin agreed to use the brand as long as he could have complete control of its portrayal on the show.)
Vince and his friends on Entourage really, really like Avion. (Perhaps they like it a bit too much—a few too many shots almost cost Vince a role in a movie.) And in real life, Avion Silver won Best Unaged White Spirit award at the most recent San Francisco World Spirits Competition. So my curiosity was piqued. Is the Entourage boys' tequila any good, or is this stuff just popular because of a pretty bottle (held up on television by a pretty actor)?
We gave the silver, reposado, and anejo all a try in honor of upcoming Cinco de Mayo.
Avion Silver is clean-tasting, with a crisp alcohol bite: it struck us as a tequila for people seeking unflavored spirits. (And there are plenty of people seeking unflavored spirits.) It has a little hint of chamomile and black pepper and smells a bit like lime zest, but it's quite spare, perhaps from its extensive "ultra slow filtration". If you're looking for an herbal tequila with interesting, complex flavors, this isn't the one, but if you're looking for a mildly flavored, vodka-like spirit to mix, Avion Silver is fine, if a little pricey—it costs $45 at our local store.
Avion Reposado has the slightest floral-vanilla scent, and a smooth, silky texture which rounds off the alcohol a bit. It's aged six months in oak barrels. There's a little hint of honey and delicate poached pear, but this stuff is easy-drinking, not fascinating. It lacks any of the bright, fresh herbal flavor that we've found in other reposado tequilas—there's nothing that really put us off, but it's a bit bland.
Of the three in the Avion line, the Avion Anejo was our favorite. It's a bit more aromatic than the others: it smells like pineapple with a hint of smoke. The tequila is mellow and soft in the mouth, rich but with a hint of charred flavor on the finish, and a little clove-like spice. We'd happily drink this anejo, which spends two years in American oak casks, but for $50-60 a bottle, it's nowhere near as interesting as other options on a good liquor store's tequila shelves.
These three tequilas struck us as spirits meant for people who are a little afraid of tequila, and don't know how delicious it can be, and who aren't necessarily looking for the range of flavor that agave can offer. The super-slow filtration (or something else in the production process for Avion) seems to strip these bottles of their character. Plenty of people are looking for neutral, unthreatening, smooth tequila. The fancy-bottle-of-vodka, drink-like-you're-famous crowd can turn to Avion for that. If you want to explore what makes tequila different and unusual, then you should look elsewhere.
Disclosure: Press sample was provided for review consideration.