Tequila is much more than just an ingredient in a margarita or something to shoot. It is a spirit to be savored, like a fine wine or an aged bourbon. Sipping and comparing styles is a great way to learn more about this unique spirit. Here are tips and ideas to get you started.
What makes Tequila unique is the use of a specific blue agave plant as the base and the region from which it grows. Tequila can only be produced in Jalisco, Mexico and certain surrounding areas.
Generally speaking, there are five styles:
Blanco or Silver – The purest expression of the blue agave spirit, this Tequila is aged in stainless steel tanks, usually for a period of 4 weeks.
Gold or Joven – This is typically a mixto (mixed), where sugars and different colors are added to give the appearance of an aged spirit.
Reposado – Tequila with this label has spent anywhere from 2 to 11 months in oak barrels. It has a lot of extra complexity.
Añejo – These Tequilas have spent at least a year in barrels. The barrels are often small, which means more juice is spending more time with more wood. This is the good stuff, to be enjoyed slowly with good amigos.
Extra Añejo – A somewhat new classification, Extra Anejo—or Ultra Anejo—spends at least 3 years aging in barrels. The added time with oak imparts the darkest color to the Tequila, much like it does to whiskey. The distillers will save their best stuff for these, so you are truly getting the ultimate representation of a Master Tequila Distiller’s vision.
TIP: Hold the Salt!
You may be accustomed to tasting tequila with salt and lime. But for an authentic flavor experience, try your samples first, as you would a fine Cognac or Scotch, without those extras. Taste the full flavor of the spirit by itself. Then see how the lime and salt affect the taste.
The host should either lead, or designate a leader and keep the group focused on learning. Pour the Tequila all at the same time and discuss the colors, aromas, flavors, and finish against each other.
How Much to Pour:
1 ½ oz if tasting only 4
1 oz if tasting 6
Provide a spit bucket – this is a learning tasting and it is fine to spit.
Be careful not to pour your guests more than six ounces.
Why not compare different styles or the same style from different distillers?
A Brandy snifter is ideal, but most don’t have that many snifters. The next best thing is an all-purpose white wine glass. It is ideal to have one glass for each tequila.
A simple mat makes organization of each glass very easy. Under each glass is an outline of the basic tasting components each taster should consider along with a space for notes.
Beginners should start out with three to four. For the knowledgeable Tequila fan, six is an ideal number.
Make sure each taster has a glass of distilled water. Try adding a tablespoon of distilled water to see the affect. Or, try adding one ice cube to see how the temperature and “alcohol-heat” is affected.
We like to say Celebrate More. But we also say Celebrate Responsibly. Have plenty of designated drivers.
Check out our Tequila Tasting Food Blog to get the recipes for the following: