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 34 of 59

35 StateWays ■ ■ May/June 2016 Discerning consumers are paying more atten- tion to production methods, says Grover Sans- chagrin, creator of the tequila Matchmaker mobile app. "Diffuser-made tequila has really started to take over the industry. Diffuser is the new mixto, and the brands that use it don't want to disclose this. I am willing to pay more money for a tequila that still uses traditional production processes, because they are becoming an endangered species right now." Cooked agaves must be processed to extract the juice and create a fermentable liquid, and only a few distilleries use the ancient and labor-inten- sive tahona method, in which cooked agaves are crushed under a massive rock wheel that grinds them in a pit. Otherwise, a roller mill is employed to extract the juice. These are the main differences between Patron and Roca Pa- tron, for example. Roca is made entirely with the tahona method, while Patron is made from juice extracted half using the tahona and half the roller mill. Using a roller mill to crunch agaves and extract the juice is said to develop more citrusy and peppery fl a- vors, while the tahona brings more earthiness and agave fl avors. There are many other production choices to me made, some stylistic rather than effi ciency and cost-savings based. Orozco at Riazul says the distiller in charge experiments with many variables during fermentation - different yeasts, changing the humidity and temperature, adding agave pulp, any num- ber of small things that drive up the cost. "Even though we don't use a tahona and a donkey, we still have high production costs," he says. FERMENTATION AND DISTILLATION At the fermentation stage, there are also differences that incur varying costs, as well as producing various qualities. "Once you get to fermentation and start adding chemicals, you can change from a four-day to an 18-hour process," Aceves says. At the distillery where Casamigo is made, piñas are roasted for 72 hours, the yeast used for fermentation is specifi cally cre- ated for the brand and the fermentation lasts 80 hours, "which we feel reveals the aromas and fl avors of the tequila as we want it," Begat says. Other options include choosing among wood fermenters or stainless steel, small batches fermenters of perhaps a few thou- sand liters or giant vats holding 80,000 liters or more. While small-batch tequilas can be poorly made and large-batch ex- ceptional, there are costs associated with either choice. Those costs are often passed along to retailers and consumers. Other spirits focus more on distillation processes as a sign of quality, and choices are still important here. "When you run the spirit through column stills, instead of 12 pounds to make a liter you may only need eight pounds. Out of the column you produce a higher alcohol content - less fl avorful but more yield, at about 114 proof," Aceves says. The current differences in production between Herradura and el Jimador, another Brown-Forman brand produced at the Herradura distillery, are instructive: to make el Jimador, the producers press and extract juice from the agave before it is cooked; in Herradura, the agaves are oven-roasted fi rst. While el Jimador is also distilled in a column still, Herradura is pot distilled. And the type of pot still matters as well: copper pot stills are said to develop smoother tequilas than stainless steel stills by removing sulfur and bitterness, creating a smoother spirit. Finally, with blancos, the differences lie in what happens next. By law, blancos can be bottled immediately or rested in stainless steel tanks for up to 60 days. But some producers also briefl y - for less than 30 days - store the blanco in oak to create a bit more smoothness. Proof matters too. While 35 and 45 percent alcohol by vol- ume tequilas are common in Mexico, most brands imported to the U.S. are 40 percent. Some, like Tapatio, go up to 55, which is the proof of the recently released Herradura limited release, Coleccion de la casa Directo de Alambique. Of course, when it comes to aged tequilas, there are just as many choices. Types of oak, time in barrels, where they are stored and how they are blended are just a few. In addition, there are new expressions - called "cristallino." There are only a few of these aged and then fi ltered tequilas, without color but with the fl avors of more aged tequilas. The board that certifi es tequila-making rules has yet to defi ne this style, but it's likely to be another twist in the tale of the varieties of tequila. JACK ROBERTIELLO is the former editor of Cheers maga- zine and writes about beer, wine, spirits and all things liquid for numerous publications. More of his work can be found at www. BLANCO TEQUIL A

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Stateways - StateWays - May/June 2016