How to Taste Tequila
Premium tequila 100% agave is unique liquor that is carefully crafted. No other liquor offers the delicate aroma and taste as the agave does. A spirit like this deserves a lot of attention and dedication; it’s certainly not something that should be just be poured into a shot glass and quickly downed. There’s a method to enjoying 100% agave tequila. You have to savor the different components in your lips, tongue and palate as thre are complex nuances that you need to discover to fully appreciate what makes 100% agave tequila a distinct dinking experience.
Step 1: Choose Your Glass
While this may seem a bit simple, it’s a very important step in tasting your premium tequila. Never use a small shot glass; these are the ones used at some bars and restaurants and are the stuff of movies. You should use a glass that has a large opening at the top and that you can comfortably hold in your hand. This ensures the aromas to reach your nose and palate. Use a 4-ounce glass like the one shown below. In the Merchandise section you can order these tequila hand-blown glasses. This glass lets the spirit whiff around the palate and nose and discover the multiple components around your tongue.
© Jose-Pablo Fernandez
Step 2: Sniff
You’ll be doing a series of sniffs. Your first sniff will be a quick one. This is an introduction to the 100% agave tequila that prepares your olfactory sense to intake a different aroma, and giving it some prep time will make it all the more enjoyable. After this, you’ll take your second sniff. This sniff is slightly longer, in order to take in more of the aromas in the tequila. Don’t linger too long on this one, or you’ll overpower your olfactory system and have to start all over again. In your third and final sniff you’ll smell more of the tequila and start to appreciate what you’re about to drink. If your nose needs a break in between sniffs, it can be helpful to take both a sip and a sniff of still water. This gives your olfactory sense a clean slate, allowing you to go back to square one.
Step 3: Taste
Like the sniffing, you’ll want to break this down into a few steps first before you go into straight sipping and enjoying. Begin with a small sip and swirl it with the tip of your tongue against your lips, and slowly move it to the middle of your tongue. This is to prepare your body, again, for the tequila that you’re about to intake. Then sip a little bit more tequila and swirl it around in your mouth; let it roll on the tongue and underneath it. After you’ve done that for several seconds, you’ll want to swallow very slowly. During this second sip, you’re really taking in all the flavors and feelings of your tequila. Four your third sip and every sip hereafter increase the intake of tequila to suit your taste. Salud!
You may enjoy tequila served at room temperature, on the rocks or direct from your freezer. Tequila will not freeze because 80 proof liquors freeze at -15°F (-26°C) and home freezers are set at 0°F (-18°C).
Blanco and Reposado may be accompanied by “sangrita” made of tomato and orange juice with salt and chile. Some people bite a wedge of Mexican lime before every sip, and some even pour salt on the lime.
At a restaurant or bar always have your tequila served directly from the bottle in front of you. This way you will get exactly what you ordered.
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Tasting a Particular Brand
In this tasting you will experience the differences among the different types of tequila of a particular brand: Blanco, Reposado and Añejo; you may also include Extra Añejo. If you are new to tequila, this is the right tasting to get acquainted with the differences in taste and aroma within one particular brand.
Go to a nice bar and select a brand of 100% agave tequila. Ask the bartender to serve you half-ounce shots of Blanco, Reposado and Añejo. Remember that the ideal glass is the 4-ounce "caballito" pictured above.
Starting with Blanco bring the glass to your mouth and breathe in allowing the aroma to fill your nose and mouth. Sip a little bit of tequila and swirl it with the tip of your tongue against your lips. Feel the arome and then, slowly, move it up to your palate, wait a few seconds and swallow it. Drink water and repeat this process with the Reposado and finally with the Añejo. Rate each tequila. It is quite normal that for one particular brand you may give different ratings to each type. Se Rating section bellow.
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Select the same type of tequila 100% agave from different brands. Limit the number of brands to 3 so that your tasting buds don't get overwhelmed. Ask the bartender to serve you two-ounce shots of each. Follow the same procedure as described above.
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Tasting Tequila in Different Ways
Serve half-once glasses of your favorite tequilas as shown below and discover different ways to appreciate them. You may find that certain brands/types taste different depending on how you serve them.
• At room temperature
• Out from the freezer
• On the rocks
• In a Margarita Cocktail. See recipe below.
You should have your own recipe for this cocktail and stick to it when tasting different tequila brands. Here is a traditional recipe that you may use:
1 ½ to 2 ounces tequila 100% agave
1 ounce triple sec liquor (Cointreau)
½ to 1 ounce lime juice (alternatively use lemon juice)
Pour fine salt on a plate, then run a lime wedge around the lip of a cocktail glass and lightly press it against the salt. Shake the tequila, lime juice and the triple sec with crushed ice and pour into the salt-rimmed glass. The cocktail may be also served with shaved ice (frozen margarita) or on the rocks. You don't need to use the traditional margarita glass with its inverted sombrero; use whatever glass suits your taste.
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You don’t need a complex rating system. After all, what you need is a way of finding out which tequilas are the best for your particular taste. You may use the following system that rates tequilas from 1 to 5, with 1 being the worst and 5 the best:
1 I really don’t like it.
2 Drink only if no other brands available.
3 Good. Tolerable.
4 Very good. Makes perfect gift.
5 The best. I really enjoy it.
>> Download Tequila Tasting Record to keep track of your favorite tequilas.
To print page set to custom paper size to H=5.5" W=8.5"