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Mexico sees high-end tequila sunrise

Not the low-grade liquor frat boys binge on. Fine tequila, like the stuff sipped on TV's 'Entourage,' stakes its claim on the top shelf.

However, aficionados say that any tequila aged for more than five years will taste more like wood and smoke than agave.

Discerning consumers also take note of origin. Agave grows largely in the hills of Jalisco, in western Mexico, where rich soil, warm days and cooler nights provide a hospitable environment for the plant.

“It plays with the acidity [and] develops a higher sugar content. What that does is impart citrusy, sweeter nuances, floral nuances,” Greenleaf says of the habitat’s impact.

Sophisticated drinkers look for a wide range of qualities, from floral to smoky to sweet. Some also detect notes of grapefruit and sweet cigar tobacco in tequila.

And there are other flavors. Greenleaf dips into the vast collection. “Casa Noble, aged in a new French oak barrel, imparts a vanilla flavor,” she says, pointing to a stem-less glass filled with dark amber. “It’s triple distilled,” she adds.

Then she points to another.

“This [tequila] is aged a little over two years in a used cognac barrel. After the first sip you get the heat … notes of cinnamon, pumpkin spice, custard. What’s great about it is it’s a heavier weight — syrup,” says the tequila librarian.

“I think it would be fun to pour that on some pancakes.”