What does a $4,000 bottle of tequila taste like?
A lot like a high-priced Scotch, as it turns out. MONEY staff and Ray Isle, executive wine editor of Food & Wine, sat down late last week to try a new offering from the world’s oldest tequila producer, Jose Cuervo. The tequila producer teamed up with the Rolling Stones to launch 250 Aniversario—The Rolling Stones Special Edition.
So what makes this new liquor worth $4,000? The process is part of the price tag. The tequila starts as 100% blue agave, hand-selected from a single estate. The heart of the agave plant, called the piña, undergoes a 72-hour long cooking process in a brick oven, and is then pressed once to extract all the liquid. The resulting liquid is then aged for at least three years in French and American oak barrels.
From there, Jose Cuervo blended this tequila — considered “extra añejo tequila,” because of the aging — with several reserve tequilas, including some 100-year-old tequila from the Cuervo family’s private cellar. The blend then spent another year resting in Spanish sherry casks, says Sonia Espinola, Cuervo’s brand heritage director. “This is a tequila you should sip slowly and appreciate the aroma,” she adds.
The result, says Isle, is a smokey, smooth elixir that should really excite tequila enthusiasts, as well as those who enjoy a good scotch or sherry.
In MONEY’s blind test, Jose Cuervo’s was a darker amber color than the two other extra añejo tequilas tasted. It had strong nut flavor and the character of a barrel-aged spirit. “As you age tequila in barrels, you lose the agave character and you get more of a barrel character, and the caramel and nuts flavors,” Isle says. (For more on the flavor, watch the entire taste test in the video above.)
The other aspect blowing up the sticker price for Cuervo’s special edition tequila is the presentation. The hand-blown bottle features the band’s outstretched-tongue logo in 14-karat gold, along with golden spikes and a blown-glass stopper. “The bottle is so unique and all the details are handcrafted by artists,” Espinola says. The bottle is housed in a leather-bound guitar case and comes with six shot glasses.
Jose Cuervo released 25 bottles of the $4,000 tequila this week. Stores in New York, Orlando, Miami and Los Angeles have already placed orders, the company says. Although if a $4,000 tequila is a little too rich for you, Jose Cuervo also has a $26 edition, the Jose Cuervo Especial Rolling Stones Edition.
The rollout is part of Jose Cuervo’s recent campaign, tied to the Rolling Stones 1972 tour — which was known as the “cocaine and Tequila Sunrise tour,” according to band member Keith Richards’ autobiography. According to band legend (and this National Geographic article), Mick Jagger asked for a margarita shortly before the tour started. But the bartender instead made him a tequila sunrise, which became his drink of choice throughout the tour.