The aging process of tequila is similar to that of other spirits such as whiskey and rum, but with its own peculiarities. The distinctive flavor and complexity of tequila comes largely from the aging process, a crucial step in the production of this Mexican beverage. In this post, we will explain in depth this fascinating aging process, discovering how it influences its flavor and quality and how different aging periods produce tequilas with unique flavor profiles.
What is Tequila Aging
Tequila aging is the process in which freshly distilled tequila is stored in barrels for a specific period of time to develop its flavor, aroma and character. During this process, the tequila interacts with the wood in the barrels, absorbing compounds and characteristics of the wood, which imparts additional flavors and aromas. Aging can help soften the flavor of tequila, especially when it comes to young, robust tequilas. Time in the barrel can vary from a few months to several years, allowing the flavors to blend and balance, often resulting in a smoother, more palatable tequila.
Añejo, Blanco and Reposado Tequila Aging Process
It is carried out in oak barrels, and the time the tequila spends in these barrels is what determines its final classification: blanco, reposado or añejo
- Tequila Blanco: Also known as “silver”, this type of tequila is bottled immediately after distillation, without going through a barrel aging process. This means that its flavor is fresh and pure, with notes of raw agave and a vibrant character. It is ideal for cocktails such as margaritas.
- Tequila Reposado: In Olmeca Altos Reposado tequila is aged in oak barrels for for at least 5 months in 180-200 lt casks. During this time, the tequila acquires additional flavors and aromas from the wood, giving it a smooth, slightly golden flavor. You will notice hints of vanilla, caramel and spice, making it a popular choice for enjoying on its own or in cocktails such as the Paloma.
- Tequila Añejo: Aged for at least 12 months in 180-200 lt casks. This longer aging process gives tequila a dark amber color and an exceptionally smooth and complex flavor. You can expect deep flavors of caramel, vanilla, nuts and a hint of oak. Añejo tequila is best enjoyed neat or in single shots to fully appreciate its richness of flavor.
What Factors Affect the Aging of Tequila?
The aging process of tequila is influenced by several key factors that determine its final quality and flavor:
- Barrel Type: The choice of oak barrel is essential. Some wineries use new barrels, while others prefer barrels previously used for other spirits such as bourbon. Each type of barrel brings different nuances to the tequila.
- Barrel Size: The size of the barrel is also important. Smaller barrels allow a more intense interaction between the tequila and the wood, accelerating the aging process and providing more intense flavors.
- Environmental and storage conditions: The temperature and humidity of the aging warehouse can have a significant impact on how tequila develops. Seasonal changes and atmospheric conditions influence the extraction of flavors from the wood.
- Warehouse Altitude: The altitude at which the warehouse is located also affects the aging process. At higher altitudes, temperature fluctuations are more extreme, which can accelerate the maturation of the tequila.
Why Olmeca Altos?
Understanding the tequila aging process is not only interesting, but also important for several reasons. Beyond being an essential part of Mexican culture and tradition, knowing how tequila is aged allows us to enjoy it with greater appreciation and gratitude for the dedication and passion that master tequila makers put into each bottle. At Olmeca Altos, we are committed to bringing you quality tequila knowledge.