Is Tequila the New Vodka?
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How to Describe Tequila

Let's say that you are bringing a new brand of tequila to market and want to tell people what's in the bottle. Here are the basic questions that a brand should be able to answer.

  • Distillery
    • What is the NOM number of the distillery?
    • Where is it located, and is this in the highlands, lowlands, elsewhere?
    • Does the brand own the distillery or is it a custom product? 
  • Agave fields plantss  Agave
    • The product is 100% agave, right?
    • Is the agave estate-grown, purchased on the market, or a combination?
    • Is the agave all from the highlands, lowlands, another region, or a mix?
  • Partida ovenss  Agave processing
    •  In what is the agave baked? Stone/clay/brick ovens? Autoclaves? 
    • How is the agave shredded? Tahona, typical shredder, one of those new high-tech ones like at Herradura?
    • Is the fermentation with only natural yeast or is yeast added? 
  • El tesoro tahonas  Distillation
    • Is it pot-distilled, column-distilled, or a combination of both?
    • How many times is it distilled in each type of still? 
  • Aging
    • For each of blanco, reposado, anejo, and extra anejo:
      • In what type of wood(s) is it aged? (Ex-bourbon, ex-cognac, new French oak, etc.)
      • For how long (or how long on average)?  

There are many other ways a brand can differentiate itself (filtration/oxidation/processing/barrel age/etc,), but these I would consider the basic descriptors of tequila. I feel that I need to know this to know what's in the bottle. 

Pinass  I think some brands managers/PR folks get hung up and withhold information based on what they think American consumers want to hear; that highlands are superior to lowlands, that more distillations makes a better tequila, that having a tahona improves the quality, that longer aging means better tequila. None of these things are true (if they were, Partida wouldn't be good at all) and I don't think enough Americans know enough about tequila to place value judgements on most of this vocabulary. 

Barrelss I would like the brands to lay it all out like this, and also let us taste it. Ultimately that's all that matters, but I guess I take some offense when brands try to put a glossy coating over something that is understandable. If you won't say what's the bottle, why should we drink it? 

What do you think? Are all those questions actually important or am I being ridiculous?  Did I miss anything?

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