The process of tequila making is a craft that requires plenty of knowledge and expertise in the matter, and only a few of us are able to master such a craft. However, learning about this process is an essential part of enjoying this delicious Mexican spirit. This allows us to truly understand the hard work that goes into making just one bottle of our favorite tequila.
There are many steps involved in the process of tequila making, and it all starts with carefully harvesting the blue agave. Cooking the piña and extracting the juice comes next. Fermenting the sugars and distilling the tequila are the last steps for making blanco tequila. Aging the spirit is the last step when we are making añejo or reposado tequila, before bottling up the drink.
If you missed Part 1 of this blog, you can find it here.
Distilling the Tequila
In order to obtain the delicious drink, the fermented sugar must go under the distilling process. This will separate these ferments thanks to the heat and steam pressure that are used in this step. Some producers tend to do this process three times, yet the majority only distills their drink twice. The first distillation tends to take a couple of hours and is known as crushing. This results in a drink with an alcohol level of 20%, approximately. The second distillation takes from three to four hours and results in a drink close to 55% alcohol.
Aging the Spirit
As a result of the second distillment, producers obtain what we know as blanco or silver tequila. However, aging the spirit is the next step for reposado and añejo. Most producers age their tequilas using bourbon French or American white oak barrels. Also, for different types of tequilas, the spirits age for different periods. Reposados spend about three to twelve months of aging. Añejos spend one to three years within the barrels. Extra añejos spend more than three years aging. The longer the tequila is left to age, the more color and tannins it will have.
Bottling the Results
The very last step in the process of tequila making is bottling the results. Because of its Appellation of Origin status, tequila can only be produced in five Mexican states: Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. Therefore, all the tequilas are bottled in Mexico, as long as they are 100% agave tequilas, which must include Made in Mexico in their labels. However, those tequilas that are not 100% agave, which are labeled as “mixtos” can be sold and bottled anywhere else.