Often, people will ask me, “What is the smoothest tequila”. And for that, I say, there is no correct answer. The reason for that is, we all have different ideas and expectations for what “smooth” is. Some people may say that smooth is anything that doesn’t feel like your throat is being ripped out. Others may say that smooth, should have a soft feel and texture with a simple finish. How a tequila, mezcal, sotol, etc reacts with your palate has a lot to do with other factors such as previous experiences with spirits (or lack there of), the weather, what you have eaten or drank, or just your mood. These are many of the factors change from day to day. One of the biggest misconceptions about agave spirits is that the longer it is aged, the better or “smoother” is. Well, for some people, that can be true. But the amazing thing about an agave distillate, is that there is so much flavor, depth, and complexity to what comes fresh from the stills, that the aging process doesn’t necessarily make it better, just different.
Before I recommend a brand or style (blanco, reposado, or añejo), I will first ask them what other spirits they like to drink, as well as what tequilas they’ve had that they liked and do not like.
If the person prefers whiskey, cognac, aged rum, and /or red wine, I will recommend an añejo or maybe a reposado. If the person likes vodka, white rum, gin or sauvignon blanc I will suggest a blanco.
Now, within the aged products, the type of barrel used and how long it aged for, is a HUGE factor in determining its flavors, texture, and “smoothness“. While some people love the vanilla, caramel, and nutty elements in a product that has been aged in a new American oak barrel, the person next to them ,might notice only the heat that comes from the charring of the barrel and feel like their mouth has been set on fire. One person likes it and the other doesn’t think that it is “smooth“, but it’s the same product. So really it does come down to personal preference and what you like. But, what you like now, may not be the same 2 years from now.
I was at a tequila party recently and had 3 people (2 guys, 1 girl) taste Milagro reposado and Milagro Select Barrel reposado - blind. I chose these 2 tequilas because they both have the same production process the only difference is that the regular reposado is aged in used American whiskey barrels and the Barrel Select is aged in used French oak barrels. While 2 people liked the Barrel select more, and thought it was “smoother“, the other preferred the regular reposado. Myself? Well, the Barrel Select has light and sweet elements, while the regular reposado is a bit bigger and a touch earthier. So for me, I preferred the taste when I blended them together as they seemed to develop more depth and complexity.
In my next rants and raves, we'll be "Going Beyond Smooth"