StateWays - May/June 2016

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 33 of 59

StateWays ■ ■ May/June 2016 34 Location matters. Although most tequilas are made from a mix of piñas grown in the highlands as well as the Jalisco valley, some brands accentuate the citrusy qualities associated with the highlands (especially popular these days), although many tequila fans prefer the earthy and sometimes briny val- ley-based tequilas. How they are grown matters as well. Ac- cording to national brand ambassador Gina Castillo, Don Julio established the tradition of planting blue agave farther apart to encourage larger growth and sweeter maturation. To reach the correct sweetness levels needed to ferment properly and to create maximum aromas and fl avors, agaves must reach a predetermined sugar content. "If you are using older agaves, those two or three years extra waiting costs money," says Ruben Aceves, master blender for Herradura. "As they age they are more susceptible to diseases, for example, as well as weather." The process of selecting the individual agave piñas depends on level of ripeness desired by the producer. Says Rodriguez, who helps oversee quality control of all aspects of production including agave selection, "To be premium you need an agave that is harvested properly and old enough. If the agave looks green when harvested and arrives in the distillery, it probably has more bitterness and methanol content. You have to look for high quality agave harvested properly - something above 25 percent sugar content that will develop better aromas and fl avors when processed." Few producers promote their brands based on agave age or sugar content, although some have focused on estate-grown piñas. Olivier Begat, vice president of manufacturing and pro- duction at Casamigos, says the brand uses 7- to 9-year-old, estate-grown agaves exclusively. "We don't want them to get too old and fi brous, or be too young and without the sugar content we want, so we must time it right." Reid Hafer, senior brand manager for Lunazul tequila, points out that the process at distillery Tierra de Agaves, where the brand is made, is vertically integrated, using its own agave, fermentation and distillation. "Not everyone can say they know exactly where their agave came from. We planted, tended and harvested each of them for their entire life cycle. Not many Tequila suppliers can share those stories," he says. But others are quick to point out that using estate-grown agave does not alone guarantee quality; the processing meth- ods are equally crucial. VARIED PRODUCTION METHODS Turning agaves into a fermentable liquid takes time. There are three main methods used: fi rst, the classic giant brick ovens in which agaves are roasted, a method that can take three or more days to cook the piñas fully. More effi cient are the stainless steel pressurized autoclaves, in which agaves are cooked in about a third of the time. The disadvantage: fewer of the over-roasted agave notes prized by many consumers tend to emerge. And then there is the controversial diffuser method, in which agaves are shredded and juice is extracted with heat and chemicals. "This is the highest technology and the best op- tion in terms of effi ciency and volume, but not in obtaining the most complex fl avor components," says Patron's Rodriguez. "For the high end you have to go back to the brick ovens - we cook for three days, while an autoclave would be one day and a diffuser a matter of hours." BLANCO TEQUIL A LEADING BRANDS OF TEQUILA, 2014-2015 (000 9-Liter Cases) '14/'15 Brand Supplier 2014 2015 % Change Jose Cuervo Proximo Spirits 3,082 3,297 7.0% Patron The Patron Spirits Company 2,150 2,186 1.7% Sauza Beam Suntory 2,089 2,095 0.3% 1800 Proximo Spirits 1,085 1,059 -2.4% Juarez Luxco 900 874 -2.9% Familia Camarena E & J Gallo 615 800 30.1% Montezuma Tequila Sazerac 585 646 10.4% el Jimador Brown-Forman Beverages 379 453 19.5% Total Leading Brands 10,885 11,410 4.8% Total Tequila 14,325 14,950 4.4% Source: The Beverage Information & Insights Group. For more data, visit

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Stateways - StateWays - May/June 2016