A drink, like most things, is best enjoyed when done correctly. Tequila does not always have to be accompanied by a bit of salt and a slice of lemon. Tequila is an alcohol that can be enjoyed for its own unique and tasteful aromas and flavors.
Forget Everything You Think You Know
When tequila tasting, to understand the complex intricacies of tequila, we must first understand what we need in order to enhance the experience. Tequila is very commonly served in a shot glass, but to truly release the flavor of your premium tequilas, you need the appropriate glassware.
A stemmed glass with a short bowl that narrows towards the top, like a brandy snifter, is a good option. This glass shape allows for the tequila to be swirled around without any mess or spillage. The long stem allows for the aromas of the sweet tequila to rise, highlighting the sweet and rich flavors of the tequila. Tequila should be served at room temperature, with a pour of about ½ an ounce per serving.
Note the Color
The color of your tequila is important as it helps you identify the aging process used to distill it. The white tequila known as silver tequila or Blanco is the product of little-to-no aging and should be crystal clear in appearance. Whereas reposado tequila is aged for a minimum of 2 months and a maximum of 365 days, creating a golden color.
The third and most expensive tequila, Añejo tequila, is aged in barrels for a period of 1 to 3 years and can range from golden to amber in color. Patrón, for example, uses 5 different kinds of barrels to age their tequila, as they all add an intricacy to the tequila. The barrels used are: Two types of French oak, Hungarian oak, used American whiskey barrels, and new American oak barrels.
Identify the Aromas
We can split identifying the aroma of tequila into 3 parts. First swirl the tequila in the glass allowing the sweet and fruity aromas to release, then raise the glass up to your nose and give it a sniff. The most dominant aroma should be the sweetness.
Tequila Blanco may exhibit notes of apple pear and citrus, while reposado and añejo will exhibit scents such as vanilla, caramel, honey, butterscotch, brown sugar, almonds, toffee, or chocolate. Swirl the glass again and sniff directly into it, the sweet aromas should still be detectable, but the alcohol vapors should be the most dominant.
Swirl the glass once more, tilt the glass towards you, and sniff the far side of the glass, to expose the spicy-sweet aromas. The Reposado and Añejo may have notes of oak and spice, whereas the Blanco will have delicate notes of mint, pepper, or pineapple.
Experience the Flavors
The next step in the tasting process is the actual tequila drinking. Take a small sip of the tequila and allow it to rest in your mouth for a moment, letting it coat your tongue. Swallow and then exhale through your mouth. The exhale releases the vapors of the alcohol and aids the “burn”.
Some of the scents you've already identified should be present in the flavor of the tequila, along with indications of sweetness, bitterness, acidity, and/or saltiness.