Tequila Avión was introduced in 2010 by former Marquis Jet chief executive officer Ken Austin.
How the company was founded was in the form of a rival budget airline’s celebrity poker tournament in the early 2000s. While it was Austin’s turn to play, he ordered tequila. Almost simultaneously, [Berkshire Hathaway chairman and chief executive officer] Warren Buffett sidled up to Austin and started a conversation about the beverage. Austin then claimed that, aside from Patron, there was no major player in the premium and ultra premium tequila markets. It was right after that Patron-related thought in his head that Austin decided to create a tequila that could fly into the laps of high rollers.
Austin then partnered with the Lopez family (a distiller from Jesus Maria, Jalisco, Mexico, with five generations of tequila production under its collective belt) to create a tequila that would rival Patron in palate and name recognition. With regard to the taste, he wanted a tequila without the telltale bitter lingering aftertaste. Austin claimed that the notorious “tequila burn” or bitter throat sensation turns off women to the drink, and enforces a notion that tequila should solely be a cocktail ingredient garnished with limes and salt.
Tequila Avión Price Guide
$16.99 - $19.99
$34.99 - $38.99
$76.99 - $79.99
$39.99 - $48.99
$44.99 - $51.99
Avion Reserva 44
$129.99 - $149.99
$19.99 - $24.99
Beautiful and meticulous inefficiency is a theme oft-repeated by Avión.
For example, only the first generation piñasare picked, because first generation fruits have the the best pulp and “agave nectar.” The piñasget more cuts than normal to their respective heads and tails, ensuring that each fruit is squeezed out of 30% more liquid.
The piñasare then roasted in six brick ovens for 72 hours, with each oven carrying only 24 tons’ worth.
The fermentation is done in stainless steel open air tanks, and performed using the company’s own yeast formula. Then, distillation is performed twice, using stainless steel pot stills with copper coils. Then Avión’s unique filtration process starts, using activated carbon and man hours 10 times longer than standard so all trace particulates are gone.
Currently, Tequila Avión has two blancos(Silver and Espresso), a reposado and two añejos (Añejo and Reserva 44).
Tequila Avión Silver
A newbie to Tequila Avión (or tequila in general) should start with this blanco or un-aged model.
Avión claims that their entry level pure blanco is “fruit forward” (read: lots of fruit presence in the palate). Multiple reviews of this tequila don’t lie, with lime, grapes, pineapple and citrus sharing tongue real estate with the agave. Black pepper, smoke (likely from the roasting process) and anise significantly greet you during the finish. However, a mild burn during the exit down the gullet still shows up, depending on the drinker.
Tequila Avión Espresso
This fresh take on a tequila blanco is great for the day beginner/morning drinker.
Roasted Italian espresso beans are mashed into pulps, with the resulting liquid tossed into the fermentation vats prior to fermenting proper. The result is an overwhelming but pleasingly strong coffee taste – and you can treat this as a coffee liqueur.
Tequila Avión Reposado
This reposado has some French oak and American oak barrel aging to it at six months, or three times longer than industry standard (according to Avión).
However, when drank, the tequila isn’t rebosado (overflowing or awash) in oak taste. Rather, the sweet taste of slow-roasted agave piña,cherry, caramel and vanilla show up in your mouth. There’s a mild alcohol bite and some numbing during the finish, though.
Tequila Avión Añejo
Much like its reposado, Avión’sañejohas aging three times longer than industry standard.
Tequila AviónAñejo’s aging is two years, resulting in an oaky presence (although not looming) on the tongue. Vanilla, caramel, coconut and maple express some hints on the palate. There’s some caramel and a little oakiness on the finish (along with some smoke), but there’s some slight alcohol burn.
Tequila Avión Reserva 44
The pinnacle of Avión tequila, this añejo is aged for 43 months in used French oak barrels, then aged for 30 more days in used American oak barrels.
The latter barrels were containers which were first used for bourbon aging, and are smaller than the French oak ones. The extra month of maturation (and those USA barrels are rotated, mind you) results in a sweet primary and secondary palate, presumably because of the more recent barrels used and the agave used as well. The taste is made more complex by the presence of chocolate, butterscotch, wild cherry, honey and vanilla. There’s an ever-so-slight sense of heat at the end, but that doesn’t take away from the sweet, [overall] smooth and balanced sensation once the Reserva 44 goes down your gullet.
Tequila AviónAñejo vs the competition
Patron Añejo ($47.99-$77.85, 750 ml, 40%)
Patron was mentioned by [Tequila Avión founder] Ken Austin early on as a direct competitor, and when it comes to añejo vs añejo, they have almost the same agave-plus-oak-and-confectionery taste.
Vanilla, caramel, smoke and oak are present in the palate on both drinks, with raisins very much in the initial taste (for Patron), and coconut and maple present when Avión’s añejo touches your tongue.
The difference-maker here is Avión’s consistency flavor. Tequila Avión Añejo is steady in its peppery-cum-sweet palate profile. On the other hand, critics claim that Patron’s añejotaste varies from bottle to bottle - rather synthetic for some, very much a tangible agave-and-sweet fruits matter for others.
1800 Añejo ($ 37.99-$74.26, 750 ml, 38%)
1800 Añejo can also be labeled as another direct competition for Tequila AviónAñejo.
Both brands place themselves as tequila for the premium (or ultra premium) crowd, with their añejos representing their respective upper tiers. Both añejos also have different fruits, confectioneries and spices in their respective tastes. The 1800 Añejo has traces of cinnamon, candied pears, butterscotch and toasted oak (plus a finish of cocoa and banana bread).
The difference is in how lingering is the hint of smokiness mid-palate. For some, 1800 Añejo has strong traces of the roasting process in the liquid. Avión’s (even with a longer agave roasting time) consistently keeps the smoky taste low.
Casamigos Añejo ($50.99-$69.99, 750 ml, 40%)
Casamigos could also be labeled as a direct competitor to Avión, since both target the ultra-moneyed, and both have Hollywood/pop culture cred to boot.
Both even have spices and sweet stuff when drank, without overwhelming the agave’s peppery palate. Casamigos’ añejo has custard, some oak (likely from the American oak barrels used in its 14 months of aging), sweet vanilla, citrus, papaya, mango, toffee penny and dark chocolate, but the liquid still manages to make the peppery agave the main feature on the tongue.
The duo even have a featured slight alcohol burn in the finish.
However, what separates the two añejos are the nose, a perceived dominance of oak in the palate, and the price. Regarding the nose, critics claimed that the Casamigos añejo had a smell that was more working man’s cologne or musk than charming man’s perfume. There was a lingering presence of wood smell in the nose, and for some it reminded them of a woodcraft section of a hobby store. In contrast, the Avión añejo had a smell reminiscent of flat cream soda or ice cream, presumably due to the vanilla blending in the fermentation.
As for the palate, some claimed that Casamigos had a lot of oak taste in their añejos, to the point that drinkers felt that the Casamigos spent way too much time in the barrels.
As for the price, drinkers felt that Avión had a more value-for-money proposition than the Casamigos, given the starting prices of both spirits.
Don Julio Añejo ($52.99-$67.00, 750 ml, 38%)
Don Julio’s añejo may be pricier than the Avión añejo, but the former makes a strong (and quite victorious) case for it being money-and-tequila well spent.
For starters, there’s no alcohol burn in the Don Julio, compared to the slight tinge of burn in the Avión. Everything is bright, lightly spiced, rich and smooth, and you don’t forget the agave presence in the Don Julio.
Second, a constant praise is heaped upon the Don Julio for a consistently minimal tinge of oakiness when the añejo hits your mouth. In contrast, the Avión has an up-down presence of oak in the taste, which was a turn-off for some.
Avión Añejo Papaya Smash Recipes
The out-of-the-box thinking of Avion is reflected in their recommended recipes for cocktails, such as the Papaya Smash. Papaya is a fruit not usually recommended when being paired with tequila, but Avión did its homework. The result is a mix that might remind one of a margarita, helped a lot by the Aperol orange liqueur that brings out both the sweet and the bitter in the drink.
Avión Añejo Papaya Smash
Add a slice of papaya and agave nectar to your glass and mix, then combine with the remaining ingredients in shaker with some ice and shake. Strain over ice, and garnish with a slice of papaya.