Tequila Tasting

Hosting a tequila tasting is an excellent way to attract guests to your restaurant, bar, or pub. Much like wine tastings, tequila tastings give customers a chance to sample several different types of tequila, comparing them and deciding which one they like the most. When executed correctly, a tequila tasting can be a successful promotion. However, if you’ve never organized a tequila tasting, you may not know where to start. Below, we’ll investigate the different types of tequila, how you drink them, and how to host a successful tequila tasting.

How to Taste Tequila

Watch the video below to learn how to taste tequila the right way:

What Is Tequila?

Tequila is a type of distilled beverage and one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in the world. It was first produced in the 16th century and its origins can be traced back to the city of Tequila, Mexico. There are several different varieties of tequila, and it is a key ingredient in popular cocktails such as the Margarita, the Paloma, and the Tequila Sunrise. Although the alcohol content can vary, most tequilas are somewhere between 35%-55% ABV (alcohol by volume).

What Is Tequila Made Of?

tequila agave growing in egypt

Tequila is made from the Weber blue agave plant. Blue agave, or tequila agave, is local to the western regions of Mexico and can typically be found growing in rich, sandy soils. This succulent is known for spiky leaves that can grow to over 7 feet. These leaves protect the pina, the heart of the plant. In some instances, the blue agave plant can be topped with yellow flowers.

Of the 125 different species of agave that are native to Mexico, only one has been determined suitable for tequila production. That species is known as Weber blue agave. Classified by German naturalist Franz Weber in 1902, Weber blue agave has a fast-growing time and high sugar concentration, making it the most sustainable and easy-to-produce source for tequila. Because of this, the Mexican government passed a law in 1977 making it the only plant allowed to be used for tequila production.

Types of Tequila

There are five different types of tequila, each distinct and easy to identify from the next. The varying barreling techniques, aging times, and ingredients used in the production process result in each type featuring unique characteristics. The five types of tequila are:

  • Blanco tequila: Also known as silver tequila, this type is the least aged. Its clear color derives from the fact that it is freshly distilled rather than being up through the aging process, though some blanco tequilas may still be aged for a limited amount of time.
  • Joven tequila: Also referred to as gold tequila, joven tequila gets its gold color from flavoring agents and other additives such as caramel color, oak natural extract, and sugar syrup. In many cases, joven tequila is made from a blend of blanco and reposado or anejo tequilas.
  • Reposado tequila: To be classified as reposado, a tequila must be aged in oak barrels for anywhere from two months to a year. This aging process is responsible for its golden color and can add hints of vanilla, nuts, or even coffee flavor to the drink. Some companies even choose to age reposado tequila in bourbon barrels, adding additional flavor.
  • Anejo tequila: To qualify as anejo, a tequila must be barrel-aged for anywhere between one and three years. During this time it begins to lose some of its agave characteristics. This results in a richer and smoother drink compared to its counterparts.
  • Extra anejo tequila: An extra anejo tequila is aged for a minimum of three years. It must also be aged in a container with a maximum capacity of 600 liters. Its color resembles that of whiskey or brandy, and it features a smooth, complex taste.

How to Drink Tequila

gold tequila in shot glasses rimmed with salt

People around the world enjoy tequila in a variety of ways. Some choose to drink it alongside other ingredients, while others prefer drinking tequila on its own. Below, we’ve listed the three most common ways that people drink tequila:

  • Tequila shots: Straight tequila can be taken as a shot on its own or accompanied by salt and lime.
  • Tequila flights: Some individuals prefer drinking tequila over a longer period. A tequila flight allows you to sip on the drink rather than finish it in one shot. Doing so encourages the drinker to take in its flavor, scent, and several other characteristics.
  • Cocktails: As one of the most popular forms of alcohol in the world, tequila is a prominent ingredient in several different cocktails. Whether you’re preparing a Margarita, a Tequila Sunrise, or experimenting with a new mixed drink recipe, adding additional ingredients can create new ways to serve the drink.

Tasting Tequila

It’s important to note that there isn’t one specific way to go about tasting tequila. As long as your guests can take in the different flavors, aromas, and physical traits of your drinks, your tequila tasting will be a success. However, if you wish to conduct your tequila tasting more traditionally, follow these steps:

  1. Fill glass: Begin by pouring your tequila into a long, narrow tequila glass or champagne flute.
  2. Observe the color and body: Take a moment to observe the color and consistency of the tequila, swirling it gently in the glass and taking note of how it moves.
  3. Take in the aroma: To best take in a tequila’s aroma, you must tilt the glass on its side so that the drink is close to the edge. Once this is achieved, you can take in its aroma.
  4. Observe differences: Compare the glass of tequila you have to the others in the selection. Note the differences in color, aroma, and consistency to grow a better appreciation for the tequila you are about to taste.
  5. Taste: Take a small sip of your tequila and make an effort to distinguish its flavor compared to other drinks, as well as any additional hints you may taste in it.

How to Host a Tequila Tasting

Whether you're entertaining a large group, hosting a holiday celebration, or just looking for new ways to expand your business, a tequila tasting can be an informative and enjoyable experience for you and your guests. If you've never attended or hosted a tequila tasting before, it may be difficult to identify a starting point. Below, we've included a list of steps to help you organize a successful tequila tasting in your restaurant or bar.

1. Buy Supplies

fancy tequila tasting sampler

To host a successful tequila tasting, you’ll first have to invest in the proper supplies for the event. Not only does having the right supplies help your event run smoothly, but when picked correctly, they can leave a positive impression on your guests. Below, we’ve included a list of supplies to help take your tequila tasting to the next level:

  • Flight paddles: Sometimes referred to as flight boards or flight carriers, flight paddles are an excellent tool for transporting and organizing your tequila flights.
  • Flight glasses: Quality glassware is essential to hosting a successful tequila tasting. A flight glass is specifically designed for samplings and tastings. They are available in several different sizes and typically feature a simple design, allowing for more focus on the drink itself.
  • Dinnerware: A tequila tasting isn't completed without food to serve. Consider investing in quality dinnerware such as plates, bowls, and tasting dishes to create a presentable table setting for your guests.

2. Determine Tequila Selection

Once you’ve gathered the necessary supplies, you’ll have to choose what tequilas to serve. Make an effort to feature a variety of tequilas in your selection to get the best results from your tasting. Be sure to choose tequilas that vary in age, allowing you to highlight each different stage of the aging process. Depending on your preferences, you can choose tequilas from one producer or several. You can even choose tequilas from different regions of Mexico.

3. Decide On a Menu

chips with nacho cheese and salsa

Curating a menu is an essential part of organizing a tequila tasting. While tequila is a versatile drink, it generally pairs well with citrus or lime as well as dishes that contain white meat, fish, or pork. To create a more authentic tequila-tasting experience, you should make an effort to provide Mexican food at the event. Below, we’ve listed some popular tequila-tasting foods to offer on your menu:

  • Chicken tacos
  • Pork tacos
  • Ceviche
  • Grilled asparagus, green peppers, or corn
  • Nachos
  • Flan

Whether you're a tequila lover or are just looking for a new way to promote your business, tequila tastings are an excellent way to attract guests. By understanding what tequila is, the different varieties of the drink, and how to organize a tequila tasting, you’ll be able to host a memorable event for your customers.

Posted in: Bars & Breweries|By Jason Kurtz
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