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A Beginner’s Guide to Tasting Tequila

Herradura Tequila Brand Ambassador Holden Ching explains what you need to know in time for National Tequila Day

When you think of drinking tequila, “tasting” might not be your first thought. Instead, a small shooter glass, lime wedge and salt probably cross your mind. Followed by a cringe.

But, in honor of National Tequila Day, Herradura Tequila Brand Ambassador Holden Ching offers the obscure complexities of the unique and versatile spirit. “We’re all used to shots. And there is a time for that, celebratory shots here and there. But, there’s a lot more to tequila that people are not familiar with.” According to Ching, tequila starts with some strict rules that apply to the herbaceous liquid, whether the rules are kept in mind after consumption or not.

One of the rules that contributes to the authenticity of tequila, from any brand and any distillery, is the origin. Tequila is from Mexico, made from the blue agave plant that a jimador will harvest for about ten years until the plant is fully matured. Ching explains how the jimador will split the blue agave in halves and cook to the brand’s preference.

Herradura chooses to slow roast their blue agave in 40-ton brick and clay ovens for 26 hours in order to fully develop the natural sweetness of the plant. The next step for all tequila is shredding and pressing the cooked blue agaves in order to squeeze out the natural juices. Then comes fermentation, and specific to Herradura, the fermentation process occurs in large vats in a natural process to allow yeast and bacteria to transform the liquid into almost tequila. Distilling is the final step, and Herradura double distills in order to extract any cringe-worthy flavors. Then comes the best part: the tasting.

Courtesy of Herradura

Courtesy of Herradura

Ching describes the five flavor profiles of each Herradura tequila with ease and clarity. He also explains the right way to taste, which starts with a high glass, ideally a champagne flute. With a taller glass, the distance from the tequila to the top acts as a barrier so you don’t immediately smell pure alcohol. The bottom third of the glass is the base, which should give off the scent of agave in tequila’s case. The middle is where you will get scents of varying flavors depending on the age of the tequila. The top is where the alcohol sits so it will be a stronger scent. But, with a high-quality tequila, the top should be clean and smooth.

Courtesy of Herradura

Courtesy of Herradura

With dozens of classes of tequila to taste and notes ranging from dried fruit to caramel, it does not take much to step out of your comfort zone and taste a few different choices. Put down the lime wedge and indulge your palate.

If you’re looking for a sweet vanilla flavor with a touch of spices in the finish, try Herradura Reposado. If you’re interested in an exceptionally smooth flavor with a creamy body and sweet aroma, try Herradura’s newest tequila club addition: Herradura Ultra. No matter which you try, celebrate National Tequila Day correctly and remember that not every sip of tequila needs a chaser in the form of a lick of salt.

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