WE LOVE TEQUILA! WE THINK YOU WILL TOO.
Here's what you need to know about one of the world's most sophisticated spirits
We are passionate about tequila, here at Riazul. We are also pretty down-to-earth. We would never presume to tell someone how to enjoy her tequila. To us, tequila only enhances whatever experience you are trying to enjoy.
There are times when shots of tequila are called for. There are definitely times when a margarita in a glass as big as a fishbowl is the best option for the setting.
But there are also times when the lights are low, the music is soft, and the best way to enhance that engaging conversation with your compadres is to sip and thoroughly enjoy the nuances and complexities of a finely crafted tequila.
When most people think about enjoying a glass of alcohol for its flavor characteristics, the first things that typically come to mind are bourbon, a single-malt scotch, or a big bold Cabernet. However, those who open themselves up to the experience of “tasting” tequila undoubtedly discover that it is one of the most sophisticated spirits available, with flavor profiles that are more numerous and more complex than that of any big red wine.
Before you run out to your local liquor store and grab the cheapest bottle or the one you recognize from the ad with the guy who was in the movie about the thing, take a moment to talk to a knowledgeable salesperson.
Because, let’s face it, the tequila shelf can be overwhelming. There are over 1,000 tequila brands, according to tequila.net. And just like other alcohol categories, such wine, beer, and whiskey, they run the gamut from mass-produced, mass-marketed behemoths to small craft producers.
Let’s go over some basics.
Tequila is made from 100% blue agave, and by law, can only be produced in 5 states, the main one and home to the city of Tequila being the state of Jalisco. Tequila mixto (mixed), contains at least 51% blue agave, with the remainder consisting of other sugars, such as the cane sugars typically associated with rum.
Under each of the two classifications, the following types of tequila can be produced:
Plata (aka, Blanco, Silver, White, Platinum)
This is the “white lightning” of tequila. It is clear in color. It comes straight from the distillery with little to no aging. For example, Riazul Tequila Plata is aged for just 15 days to smooth it out and allowing the full flavor of the agave to come through.
Reposado translates to “restful” [rested] in English. That might be how you feel after sipping some of this tequila, but your physical state is not what the name refers to. Rather, it’s the fact that it is rested or aged, typically in oak barrels, which gives reposado its golden color. Riazul Tequila Reposado is aged in French and American Oak barrels for nine months.
While Reposado tequilas are aged for two to 11 months, Añejo tequilas age for one to three years, which imbues the tequila with a darker amber color, rich flavor, smoother finish and more complexity. Riazul Tequila Añejo is distilled twice and aged for two years in XO Cognac-cured French Oak barrels. There is also extra Añejo, which is any tequila aged more than three years.
The type of tequila you are tasting will have the greatest influence on the flavors you pick up on your tongue. Blanco or Plata tequila represents the purest form. The flavor will be heavily influenced by the agave and the distilling method. Whereas, Reposado and Añejo tequilas will pick up more characteristics from the barrel, particularly in the case of Añejos aged in barrels formerly used to hold bourbon, wine, or, as with Riazul, cognac.
Look, we don’t want to make a big deal about how you enjoy your tequila. Try it at room temperature. Throw in an ice cube or two. Use a small tumbler or a white wine glass, in a pinch.
If you trying to pick up the nuances, as you would when sipping a glass of wine or an 18-year-old Scotch, the process is very similar. Swirl the tequila in your glass to release the aromas. Take smaller sniffs, as opposed to the giant whiff you might take with a glass of Zinfandel.
The aromas could vary widely, depending on the style, where the plants came, how and when they were harvested, and how the tequila was distilled. For example, our Tequila Plata will have vanilla and floral aromas. A sniff of our Tequila Añejo will uncover hints of cinnamon, spicy pineapple and banana.
Lastly, take a small sip and hold it in your mouth for a moment, allowing it to interact with your taste buds. Enjoy the nuanced complexity of flavors that range from fruity and floral in Plato tequilas to rich, chocolaty, spicy, and woody for tequilas aged in barrels.
But, hey, if you don’t pick up all those nuanced flavors, don’t sweat it. Just enjoy the experience. Enjoy your company. Enjoy the conversation. And, most importantly, enjoy yourself.