Tequila is more than just a popular spirit. It’s a testament to the rich tapestry of Mexican culture and tradition. Rooted deeply in the sun-drenched soils of Jalisco, this iconic spirit tells a story of patience, artistry, and the dance between man and nature.
While many relish its smooth finish and distinct flavor, few genuinely understand the meticulous and time-consuming process that transforms a spiky plant into the spirited elixir we know and love.
What is a smooth tequila, and what does it take to make it exceptional? Join us as we walk through the process of transforming the humble blue agave plant into the smooth and refined flavor of Suavecito Tequila.
Step 1.) The Harvest
At the heart of every bottle of Suavecito Tequila lies the pride and treasure of Mexico –blue agave. This resilient succulent, with its distinct blue-green hue and spiky demeanor, is no ordinary plant. Mountain-grown in the Highlands of Jalisco, where the cooler climate and mineral-rich soils add depth and complexity to its sugars, the agave we use for Suavecito Tequila captures the essence of its terroir, resulting in a taste that’s both distinct and unforgettable.
The elevation plays a key role. Highland agave, kissed by the crisp mountain air, tends to be smaller and much sweeter than its lowland counterparts, imbuing Suavecito Tequila with its signature smooth profile.
After a patient wait of seven years, the agave reaches maturity and is ready for harvesting. This critical step is entrusted to the experienced hands of the jimadores. With precision and expert technique, they separate the tall agave stalk to reveal the plant’s core or ‘piña.’ It is the piña, resembling a giant pineapple, which will be transported to the next phase of tequila-making.
As you savor your Suavecito Tequila, remember that it began in the lofty terrains of the Mexican highlands, cared for by nature and nurtured by skilled hands, turning every sip into a tribute to tradition and topography.
Step 2.) Cooking the Piñas
The journey from mountain to bottle continues once the piñas have been extracted. The next step in tequila production is to unlock the sugars contained within – a task achieved through cooking.
Traditionalists often opt for large brick ovens, or ‘hornos,’ where piñas are steam-cooked over several days. This slow process ensures a gentle release of the agave’s natural sugars and imparts a touch of earthiness to the flavor profile. However, in our modern era, many producers have embraced the efficiency of autoclaves – pressure cookers that achieve the same outcome in a fraction of the time.
As the piñas cook, they transform both in color and aroma. The fibers soften, while the starches are converted to simple sugars, essential for fermentation. The caramelization of these sugars during the cooking phase lends Suavecito Tequila its unmistakable aroma and unforgettable flavor profile.
For us, the choice of cooking method is not merely about tradition or speed; it’s about preserving the essence of our mountain-grown Highland agave. Every decision in this phase is designed to ensure that the rich, nuanced flavors from the Jalisco highlands remain uncompromised, making each sip a true reflection of its origins.
Step 3.) Extraction
With the piñas having undergone their transformative cooking process, extraction is the next step. This is where the sweet, aromatic nectar from within the cooked agave is released, setting the stage for fermentation.
In days gone by, the traditional extraction method involved the mighty Tahona stone, a massive wheel often made from volcanic rock. Workers would guide this wheel over the softened piñas, crushing them under its weight and allowing the precious juices, known as ‘aguamiel’ or honey water, to flow out. This method, while labor-intensive, is lauded for its ability to retain the agave’s full range of flavors.
In today’s more mechanized world, roller mills have largely taken over. These machines, through a series of crushing and squeezing actions, extract the aguamiel efficiently, ensuring maximum yield. Some purists argue that the Tahona method offers a more robust flavor, but advancements in machinery design have come a long way in preserving the integrity of the agave’s taste.
For Suavecito Tequila, every drop of aguamiel counts. Our extraction process is meticulously overseen to ensure that the essence of our mountain-grown highland agave remains front and center. As the golden aguamiel flows, it carries the promise of the refined and distinctive character that Suavecito is celebrated for.
Step 4.) Fermentation
Fermentation, nature’s alchemical dance, is where the sweet aguamiel begins its metamorphosis into the spirit we recognize as tequila. This stage is a symphony of biochemistry, as yeasts work diligently to transform sugars into alcohol.
As the yeasts consume the sugars from the aguamiel, they produce not just alcohol but also a range of compounds that contribute to the flavor and aroma of the tequila. Notes of fruits, spices, and even earthy undertones can be traced back to this pivotal process.
The magic of fermentation doesn’t happen overnight. It can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, with factors like temperature, humidity, and the type of vessel used (wooden vats, stainless steel tanks, etc.) influencing the outcome.
At Suavecito Tequila, our approach to fermentation is rooted in reverence for tradition and innovation. Our aim is always to highlight the deep, complex flavors of our mountain-grown highland agave. Through careful monitoring and expertise, we ensure that the character of our agave is celebrated, giving Suavecito its signature balance and depth.
Step 5.) Distillation
From the bubbling vats of the fermentation stage, we move to the art and science of distillation. This is where the alchemical transformation truly intensifies, refining and concentrating the flavors and alcohol into the spirit that will eventually grace our glasses.
Distillation is the process of heating the fermented aguamiel to separate its various components based on their boiling points. As the liquid is heated, alcohol and certain flavor compounds evaporate before water does, allowing them to be captured, condensed, and collected separately.
Copper pot stills are the vessels of choice for many tequila producers. Copper, with its superior heat conductivity and reactive nature, can influence the final flavor of tequila by removing certain sulfurous compounds, leading to a smoother taste.
For Suavecito Tequila, distillation is both an art and a precise science. Our skilled distillers oversee each run, making minute adjustments to capture the essence of our mountain-grown highland agave. It’s a delicate dance, balancing tradition with technology, always aiming to produce a tequila that embodies the soul of Jalisco’s highlands in every drop.
Step 6.) The Aging Process
In the world of spirits, patience is more than a virtue; it’s a defining factor. While tequila in its purest form, Blanco, is often bottled without aging, many tequilas are given the gift of time to mature and evolve, revealing intricate flavors and deeper character. This aging process is where Suavecito Tequila truly stands apart.
Tequila aging classifications are stringently defined, but Suavecito goes above and beyond. Where most Reposados might rest for a few months, Suavecito’s Reposado is given a generous eight months in oak barrels. Similarly, while many Añejos see a year in the barrel, Suavecito’s Añejo luxuriates for a full two years. And our Extra Añejo? A masterpiece of patience, it matures for a breathtaking five years, far surpassing the typical requirements.
When asking what is a good smooth tequila, the answer is often found in the aging process. During their tenure in barrels, these tequilas undergo a transformation. The wood, with its intricate matrix of fibers and compounds, imparts not just color but a symphony of flavors — hints of vanilla, caramel, and oak, as well as subtle undertones of spices and dried fruits.
Every moment our tequilas spend in these barrels is a testament to our dedication to excellence. Suavecito’s commitment to double the aging time underscores our belief in the value of patience and its impact on quality. Each sip of our aged tequilas offers a journey through time, echoing the commitment to our craft and the richness of our mountain-grown Highland agave.
Step 7.) Bottling
The final act in the intricate dance of tequila-making is bottling. It may seem straightforward, but it is as crucial as any other step in ensuring the spirit reaches the consumer in its intended state, preserving the rich flavors and aromas developed through its long journey.
The bottling line at Suavecito isn’t just a place of machinery and mechanics; it’s where the culmination of years of hard work and dedication is captured and sealed. From the choice of bottle, which must both protect and showcase the tequila, to the label that proudly bears our name, every detail matters. Each bottle is filled, sealed, and labeled with the utmost care, ready to be dispatched to tequila aficionados worldwide.
Savor the Spirit of Excellence
As you hold a bottle of Suavecito Tequila, know you’re not just holding a beverage. You’re holding a piece of the Highlands of Jalisco, a narrative of tradition, innovation, and unwavering dedication to excellence. From the mountain-grown agave fields to the very glass in your hand, Suavecito’s spirit shines through, waiting to be savored and celebrated.
What is a smooth tequila can only be answered by your palette, so we invite you to try the remarkably smooth and robust flavor of Suavecito Tequila. You can find Suavecito Tequila at Total Wine & More or wherever exceptional tequila is sold.