If you haven’t heard me talking about Leonista over the last few months on social media – where have you been?
Leonista make 100% agave spirits – a range of tequila or mezcal styled spirits (we cannot call them tequila or mezcal, as they’re not made outside of Mexico), however Sarah, co-owner and founder actually went to Mexico to learn how to make premium quality tequila
and mezcal from the master distillers. This process follows a traditional recipe for spirits like mezcal, where the agave plant is cooked in smoke and fire, which is how Leonista gets it’s smoky flavour. This makes the Leonista 100% agave spirits a local mezcal-style spirit that uses Karoo agave.
Leonista is 100% USDA certified organic, and the brand is also partnered with 1% for the planet – 1% of every bottle sold goes towards supporting African land and ocean conservation. They’re also partnered with Samara in the Great Karoo in their vision to ‘rewild the Karoo’.
I’ve always been a lover of tequila and agave spirits. I enjoy the taste, I enjoy the classic agave-based cocktails (margaritas any day!), and I love that the spirit has added benefits.
Benefits from drinking tequila you say?
♦ Gut friendly – aid digestion and improve gastrointestinal health
♦ Natural prebiotic and probiotic
♦ It can help aid calcium absorption
♦ It helps control blood sugar levels
♦ Is a natural upper and improves energy levels
♦ Contains a lot of vitamin B6
These benefits are obviously all there when consuming small amounts of tequila – I feel it should go without saying that this means that drinking in excess will (as with any alcohol) not be beneficial. When drunk with respect, 100% agave spirits will give you these great benefits, fuel your energy and leave you sans hangover.
There are 3 variants in the Leonista range – this did include a 4th, the Reposado, but it has since been discontinued. This was actually incredibly delicious and possibly my favourite, so the bottle I have is being nursed very gently!
Blanco is the white and un-aged spirit in the Leonista pride, and what they describe as the closest to an authentic mezcal thanks to it’s smooth and smoky flavour. The Blanco (like the other Leonista variants) is not designed to be taken as a shooter, but sipped slowly or used in cocktails such as margaritas or a Bloody Maria.
To me, the Blanco makes the BEST margaritas, both classic or flavoured variations. I’ve used it for both shaken and frozen margaritas with great success (my friends are WELL accustomed now to me whipping out my shaker and bottle of Blanco at various events or braais). Nothing beats a classic shaken margarita though – and I’m used to coming home after a long day at work and treating myself to one now. They’re SO easy to make.
TOP TIP – if you love a Margarita, you really should try the Organic Leonista x Oryx Margarita Salt, a sweet, salty, citrus blend for the rim of your glass.
Leonista Blanco has won Gold Medals in the Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards 2018, the Old Mutual Trophy Spirits Show 2019 and the SIP Awards International Spirits Competition 2020, as well as a Silver Medal in the San Fransisco World Spirits Competition 2018.
I’ve created several Blanco based cocktails on my Instagram, such as the Blue Margarita (featuring One Juice Blue Lemonade), a Basil & Lime Margarita, and a Frozen Raspberry Margarita as well as many others – you can check out all of my Cocktail Reels HERE.
This is such a unique spirit, as it’s achieved by infusing raw honey from around the Western Cape with Reposado. It has a subtle sweetness with a smoky finish. Leonista suggest it best served neat or on ice, but it should be kept as cold as possible if you’re to drink it neat in my opinion (I keep ours in the freezer).
I love mixing the Leonista Honey Reposado with a grapefruit or ginger mixer, as I find these really enhance the honey notes beautifully. It makes a fantastic classic Paloma cocktail or Mexican Mule. I’m dying to try the Mandarin Mezcal Margarita on the Leonista site (so stay tuned for this!).
Leonista Honey Reposado won a trophy for “Best Tequila of Show” – Old Mutual Trophy Spirits Show 2019.
I created a Chilli Pineapple Margarita using the Honey Reposado, as a nod to the classic Durban beachfront summer snack – and it was DELICIOUS with the honey notes also showing off. It’s also delicious mixed with ginger ale and a squeeze of lime (my favourite way to drink it).
This is the cherry on top of the Leonista range, and is styled more as a tequila and less smoky. It’s rested for 6-8 months in old brandy barrels made from American oak, and has lovely notes of butterscotch, caramel and dark chocolate. My personal favourite of the current offering from Leonista, this is also lovely served with ice, or used for richer cocktails such as a twist on a Manhattan or dessert cocktails.
Leonista Reposado Black won the Silver Medal – SIP Awards International Spirits Competition 2020.
You can find the Leonista spirits available for purchase on their website, as well as from selected Pick n Pay liquor stores, selected Checkers liquor stores, and Takealot, as well as many restaurants and smaller liquor stores – you can view these HERE.