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I compared Kendall Jenner's 818 tequila to George Clooney's Casamigos and was surprised by how different they were

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George Clooney and Kendall Jenner
George Clooney and Kendall Jenner both launched tequila brands. Paul Archuleta/Stringer/Getty Images and Matt Winkelmeyer/MG18/Getty Images

In February, Kendall Jenner announced the launch of her tequila brand, 818.

818 tequila delivery truck
An 818 delivery truck. Bellocqimages/Bauer-Griffin/Contributor/Getty Images

Her announcement, which she first made on Instagram, was met with both praise and criticism from fans, family, and followers.

Critics accused the model of cultural appropriation, saying she shouldn't be making and profiting off of tequila since she isn't Mexican. Many also called out the stereotypes displayed in her ad campaign, though the video was nearly identical to that of several other celebrities.

Though critics accused her of cultural appropriation, she's hardly the first non-Mexican celebrity to start a tequila business.

Nick Jonas, Dwayne Johnson, and Michael Jordan
Nick Jonas, Dwayne Johnson, and Michael Jordan all own tequila brands. Roy Rochlin/Contributor/Getty Images and Steve Granitz/Contributor/Getty Images and Jamie McCarthy/Staff/Getty Images

Marie Sarita Gaytán, an associate professor and author of "¡Tequila!: Distilling the Spirit of Mexico," previously told Insider that Jenner received inconsistent backlash with that of her famous male peers in the industry. She and Melly Barajas, a Mexican tequilero, both told Insider that the increased backlash likely has to do with the fact that Jenner is a woman.

Nick Jonas' Villa One launched in 2019. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson launched Teremana in 2020. Michael Jordan created Cincoro tequila with a team in 2019. Rita Ora, rapper E-40, Adam Levine and Sammy Hagar, AC/DC, Justin Timberlake, and Sean "Diddy" Combs are all involved in tequila businesses.

Possibly the most well-known of all celebrity tequilas, though, is George Clooney and Rande Gerber's Casamigos. The duo sold Casamigos to Diageo for $1 billion in 2017.

George Clooney launched Casamigos in 2013 with two partners.

Casamigos truck featuring George Clooney and Rande Gerber
George Clooney and Rande Gerber, founders of Casamigos tequila. George Rose/Contributor/Getty Images

The award-winning actor co-founded Casamigos with friends Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman.

Though it's a celebrity brand, it's fairly reasonable in price at $45 for blanco, $50 for reposado, and $55 for añejo at an online retailer. Jenner's 818 tequila is priced at $45, $59, and $69, respectively.

"What was really important for George and I was that we have the best tequila, but we make it affordable for everyone," Gerber previously told Insider.

I don't often spend a lot on alcohol, and I certainly am not someone who keeps a fully-stocked bar cart at home, but I do enjoy tequila, and Casamigos is something I splurge on.

Typically I'd order it on the rocks if I'm at a bar or restaurant (especially if someone else is buying), and when I'm looking to stock my own home it makes me feel like I'm spending on quality without breaking the bank.

As someone who typically drinks Casamigos, I wanted to compare it to Jenner's new drink of choice.

Casamigos tequila and 818 tequila
I compared the two side by side. Rachel Askinasi/Insider

After seeing celebrities and influencers sharing photos of themselves drinking and opening up boxes of 818, I wanted to see what all the hype was about. I had so many questions: What does it taste like? Why is it different from other brands? What does "the best tasting tequila" taste like to Jenner?

I thought that after trying it I might come out of this with a new favorite, or at least understand all the praise it's been getting.

While Casamigos is refreshing and bright, 818 is sweet and tastes like vanilla.

sipping tequila and citrus 818 and casamigos
I tried the tequila blanco in different ways. Rachel Askinasi/Insider

Each website has flavor notes listed for the respective bottles. According to the companies, Casamigos blanco delivers a taste that's "fruit forward with notes of vanilla and grapefruit," and 818 blanco offers "sweet agave and vanilla, with undertones of tropical and citrus fruit."

After sampling each tequila plain at room temperature, plain with ice, with lime and ice, and with grapefruit and ice, I unsurprisingly got different tasting notes each time.

The biggest flavor difference I noticed right away was that 818 had an obvious vanilla aroma, which isn't listed in the aroma notes. It did carry over into the taste, as promised. Though it was listed on the site, I was not expecting this distinct of a vanilla flavor. It was so blatant that it almost felt as though the spirit had been infused.

When I tried 818 alone, cold, and with both citruses, the vanilla flavor still took over any of the other tasting notes listed. It reminded me more of Jordan's $130 añejo the way it took on the flavored sweetness.

Lime cut the potency of the vanilla, but it didn't make it disappear. Grapefruit surprisingly complemented the flavors, though it tasted more like a dessert than a tequila cocktail, in my opinion.

I moved on to the familiar Casamigos and noticed the more agave-forward flavor profile. I didn't taste any of the listed vanilla at all. It was more of a natural nectar sweetness than a flavored or aged sweetness. In this case, lime and grapefruit both brought out the fresh qualities of the spirit and highlighted its smooth finish.

There are plenty of cocktails that embrace a vanilla flavor profile, but I think Casamigos blanco is better suited for a classic margarita than 818 is.

Margarita 2
I love a good margarita. Mitchellphotos/ Getty Images

Plenty of tequila appreciators love a flavorful añejo or reposado margarita — both tend to be nuttier and more caramel-like than blanco — and I do too.

But I think the clear vanilla of 818 is a bit less versatile when it comes to mixers and cocktails than the freshness of Casamigos is. You'd need to select flavors that match vanilla, which would undoubtedly yield a delicious cocktail.

When I go for a margarita I'm looking for salty and tingly, which isn't something I got from 818.

Ultimately, I think Jenner's 818 is better for people who prefer a sweeter drink.

Casamigos and 818 tequila blanco
Casamigos (left) and 818 (right). Rachel Askinasi/Insider

For many years, I was one of the only people out of my friends who actually enjoyed sipping tequila. While I haven't studied the spirit for years myself, I have tasted quite a few labels and found it to be a generally distinct spirit. It's bold and fresh and oftentimes demanding of your taste buds. But that, in my opinion, is part of the beauty. It's why I'd choose to spend maybe a little more than I should on a bottle I actually like (and one that likes me back after sunrise).

If you're someone who enjoys the flavors of vanilla, then 818 is worth a try. But if sweet isn't your thing, I'd say to skip Jenner's brand and try out Casamigos next time you're in the liquor store or at the bar.

Read the original article on Insider

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