It is also the storage that gives the Añejo structure and special lager aromas. Not to be forgotten is the wonderful color that the Añejo gets from the long aging process in the wooden barrel. As different as the maturation or the production and storage of the tequila can be depending on the manufacturer, so diverse is the taste. However, a Tequila Añejo is always one thing - it is an exciting taste experience. You can convince yourself of this with the products of our assortment in our Añejo Tequila Shop. Here you can also buy the high-quality Añejo Tequila.
Below you will learn what a Tequila Anejo is, where, how and from which agave variety it is made and how it should be drunk.
The history of Tequila Añejo
The Colombian-born writer Alvaro Muti once said, "Tequila has no history, there are no anecdotes to prove its origin. It has been like this since the beginning of time, because tequila is a gift from the gods...". And yet it does exist, the history of tequila.
It begins more than 11,000 years ago. In that time, Indian tribes native to Mexico are said to have used the blue agave (weaver agave), which had an inestimable value for the daily life of the people, for their needs. Thus, they used the leaves of this agave species to build roofs of their huts, from the thorns they made needles, nails and bolts, and the robust plant fibers were used to make ropes. But they also made paper and even certain containers.
When dried, the fleshy agave leaves were a popular fuel, and the ash from them was also used as soap, cleaning agents and bleaches. The juice of the agave was used as a remedy for faster wound healing. It was also the indigenous peoples of Mexico who discovered that the agave juice ferments as soon as it comes into contact with air. The result is a milky drink that has a slight alcohol content.
This drink was called "octili poliqhui" by the Aztecs, an advanced civilization in Central America. It was not called "pulque" until the Spanish. The Aztecs were the ones who crushed the cooked agave hearts in a mortar, mixed them with water and let them ferment. They gave this drink, which was on the one hand an intoxicating beverage and on the other hand religious sacrificial wine, the name "Mezcal". Only kings, priests, tribal elders and warriors were allowed to drink it. Only once a year, during the "Days of the Dead," were the common people allowed to drink the pulque.
With the conquest of Mexico by the Spanish in the 16th century, the Spanish conquistadors also brought the first stills and the knowledge of the art of distillation to the country. It probably reached Europe via Egypt centuries before Christ. Already in the Orient, medicine and perfume were produced with the help of distillation, and in the High Middle Ages, the distillation of pomace, schnapps and grain was also widespread in Europe.
It is believed that it was the Spanish who started producing mezcal around the Tequila region. However, the Spanish hardly used the heart of the agave. It was only when they noticed that the indigenous people of Mexico chewed small pieces of agave hearts that they suspected that they must have an enormously high sugar content. Therefore, they used agave hearts when they were looking for a way to make an offering. So, it can be said that the production of mezcal in Mexico started during the Spanish colonial period and thus the origin of the production of tequila also lies in that time.
Today, tequila production is subject to the strictest legal requirements monitored by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila A.C. (CRT). Each production plant receives a so-called NOM and a DOT number from this supervisory authority, which serve to identify the production plant. These numbers can also be found on the label of the bottles. Otherwise, the authority differentiates tequila between the two qualities 100 percent agave azul and mixto as well as the five classifications silver-blanco-plata, gold-joven-oro, aged-reposado, extra aged-añejo and ultra-aged, extra-añejo. Añejo Tequila belongs to type four, extra aged- añejo, which is aged for up to three years in used oak barrels. Also in our Añejo Tequila Shop you can buy such Añejo Tequila.
Añejo Tequila - what does it mean?
Tequila Añejo (old) is a stored tequila. That is, a tequila that has spent at least one year, but no more than three years, in a used oak or holm oak barrel. During this long storage period, it develops a very special character. The structure of the distillate as well as its color, which can be more intense and darker than that of its counterparts, are also influenced by the storage. A Tequila Añejo has more pronounced wood, spice, fruit and mineral aromas, which is also related to the longer storage.
The flavor body is therefore more complex or persistent and ranges from sweet and fruity to woody and slightly smoky to floral and spicy. Due to the different storage and associated maturation processes, the range of different Tequilas Añejo, which are characterized by their own flavors and color, is also very large. The color spectrum ranges from clear to light and dark amber to golden tones.
The production of the tequila is mainly industrial, but the storage for the Añejo still takes place in wooden barrels. Bottled in attractively designed bottles of various volumes, the Tequila Añejo then goes on sale. You can also find an appealing product range, including Tequilas Añejo that have been awarded GOLD at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the Beverage Testing Institute, the China Wine & Spirits Award, etc., in our Añejo Tequila Shop. Here you can choose from different flavors and buy Añejo Tequila.
Tequila Añejo - used agave species and production regions
Tequila Añejo - used agave species
The raw material of a tequila may only be obtained from the blue agave (Agave tequilana Weber). The production from it is supervised in Mexico under strict conditions by the supervisory authority Consejo Regulador del Tequila. Since the government of Mexico in 1994 demonstrably in the NOM-070-SCFI-1994 determined that as raw material for the production of high-quality Tequilas only the blue agaves, the so-called "Weber agaves" may be used, they are also only, which are used for the production of Tequila. However, producers only take the 20 to 100 kilogram hearts of the agave plants, also called pina, for tequila production.
Worth knowing: Tequila or 100% de Agave can only be called a product if it has at least 35 percent alcohol by volume. Anything below that is called a tequila-based spirit. By means of the designation "Made from 100% Agave", which can be found on the label, the producer assures that only the juice of the blue agave was used for the distillation of the tequila. The blue agave owes its name "Weber agave" to Frederic Albert Constantin Weber, a French botanist and physician who first described this plant in detail in 1902.
Since blue agaves "only" need four to six years to mature and grow quickly to heights of one and a half to two and a half meters with a diameter of two to three and a half meters, they are predestined for tequila production. They also have a very high sugar content, which must be at least 24 percent before harvest. They quickly form numerous offshoots and are therefore also optimal for low-cost cultivation. All these advantages speak for the blue agaves. It is possible to harvest and process them more quickly than other types of agave in order to meet the demand for tequila and, consequently, Tequila Añejo.
Tequila Añejo - The regions where it can be produced
As stipulated by the Mexican government in 1994 in NOM-070-SCFI-1994, Tequila and thus Tequila Añejo may only be produced in Mexico, namely in the five states of Jalisco, Tamaulipas, Guanajuato, Najarit and Michoacan. Even the bottling of the 100 percent tequila labeled "Hecho en Mexico" (made in Mexico) must be done in Mexico. However, the other tequilas can be moved to tanks and bottled elsewhere.
However, the Jalisco region leads the way with more than 80 percent of all tequila production. Even the planting and growth of the agaves are strictly monitored all the way to harvesting by means of an inspection number that each newly planted agave receives from the relevant authority. Tequila is thus the most strictly controlled and regulated spirit in the world.
Tequila Añejo - Production
To produce an Añejo Tequila, four steps are required. These are, in addition to the cultivation of the agaves and their harvest, the fermentation and distillation and the maturation of the distillate.
Cultivation and harvesting of the blue agaves
Due to the fertile soils and climatic conditions that prevail in the five regions officially designated for tequila production, especially around the city of Tequila in Jalisco, the Weber blue agaves thrive particularly well. But even so, it takes up to nine years for the flower stems to reach maturity. To prevent the plant sugar in the agave seed from migrating into the flower stems, the agave farmers, known as jimadores, have to remove them. The tips of the leaves are also cut off. Only when this is done does more sugar form in the heart of the agave, because only when the plant has reached its maximum sugar level and is ripe can it be harvested.
The harvesting of the agaves is done by the jimadores (harvesters) just as they did many decades ago, by hand. The jimadores are held in high esteem in Mexico due to the fact that they provide the Mexican national drink with their hard work. The knowledge of handling was and is passed down from generation to generation. At the beginning of the harvest, the agaves are freed from the pointed leaves up to the edge of the trunk. To do this, the "jimador" uses the coa, a traditional tool consisting of a round blade attached to a long handle. Machetes are also used.
Only then is the agave heart, which weighs between 20 and 100 kilograms and is also called a "piña" because of its similarity to a pineapple fruit, separated from the roots and dug out. The agave hearts are transported to the distillery either by draft animal and wagon or by truck. Once the plant hearts arrive at the distillery, they are subjected to a strict inspection for diseases and the minimum height of 50 centimeters. Only healthy agave hearts that have the minimum height are cut in half and processed.
Tequila Añejo - The fermentation process
For cooking, the halved agave hearts are traditionally placed in brick or clay ovens and cooked under steam at a temperature of 60 to 85 degrees Celsius. This process takes about 24 to 36 hours. The mass is then left to cool for 24 hours. Steam pressure vessels or autoclaves as well as steel furnaces are only used in modern plants.
These have the advantage that higher temperatures are reached, cooling is faster and the quality is still maintained. Although agave hearts lose most of their liquid during the cooking process, there is still juice in the cooled parts of the plant. Therefore, they are crushed and to further dissolve the sugar and juice, sprayed with water and the juice is squeezed out. This is usually done mechanically with the help of a stone mill, which is moved in a circle by a draft animal such as a donkey or horse, but also by a tractor. Mechanical crushing is known as shredding. The agave juice that emerges is transferred to fermentation tanks or vats for fermentation.
In order to convert the sugar contained in the agave juice obtained by fermentation into alcohol, the juice must be fermented. That is, cultured yeasts must be added to the juice for alcohol formation. Only in the case of the 100-percent agave is yeast not used. Here, "Zymomonas mobilis", a bacterium also found on human skin, is introduced. In the early days of tequila production, people had to climb into the fermentation vats to enrich the ferment with bacteria, which is comparable to wine treading by vintners.
The fermented agave juice has an alcohol content of about five percent after a fermentation period of five to ten days. However, if chemical additives are used, fermentation can be completed after 36 to 72 hours with the same alcohol content.
Tequila Añejo - The distillation process
Once the fermentation of the agave juice is complete, it is time for distillation. For Tequila, two distillations are required by law. However, some distilleries also carry out three distillation processes. Distillation usually takes place in copper pot stills. During distillation, not only is the concentration of alcohol increased, but volatile impurities, such as methane alcohol, are also removed. The alcohol content of 20 to 30 % vol. is reached after the first distillation and about 50 % vol. after the second distillation. To bring the tequila to the desired drinking strength, usually 40 % vol., it must be diluted with distilled water. The distillation of the fermented agave juice takes four to eight hours. The result is a completely clear tequila. This can be bottled immediately as a "Blanco" Tequila or, depending on the type of Tequila desired, spent in wooden barrels for storage and aging.
Tequila Añejo - Maturation and bottling
The storage and aging of a Tequila is prescribed by Mexican law. A Tequila Resposado must mature for at least two months, a Tequila Añejo for at least one to three years and an Extra Añejo for at least three years. During storage, the tequila loses its sharpness and becomes fuller-bodied and milder. The variety of aromas also becomes more intense. However, unlike whiskey or rum, a maturation period of more than four years would not result in an increase in quality.
So a tequila only becomes an Añejo Tequila when it has matured for one to three years in a used oak or holm oak barrel, which may have a maximum capacity of 600 liters. New barrels are almost unsuitable for the matured tequila. After just one year, it would taste particularly woody. As a rule, bourbon or Scotch whisky was stored in them beforehand. It is important: To get the name Añejo Tequila, the maturation time of at least one year in the barrels must be observed. This is even required by law.
The wooden barrels in which the tequila is stored for aging are sealed and may only be opened in the presence of the competent authority and the contents bottled in the designated bottles, which are often very individually and elaborately designed with a meaningful label. The tequila made from 100 percent blue agave even only in Mexico. Also in our Añejo Tequila Shop you can buy Añejo Tequila, which presents itself in such wonderfully styled bottles.
Tequila Añejo - Its taste spectrum
A Tequila Añejo impresses both in taste, body and finish with unique taste experiences. Because the Añejo spends a long aging period of one year to three years in mostly French or American used oak or holm oak barrels, it also absorbs the flavors of the spirits previously stored in them differently. Because of the complex flavors and the decrease in alcohol sharpness, an Añejo is not only milder, but also more persistent. Thus, each Tequila Añejo has its own flavor note.
The taste spectrum ranges from silky sweet like the "Gran Corralejo Tequila AÑEJO", smooth like the multiple award-winning "Gran Corralejo Tequila AÑEJO", spicy like the "1800 Tequila Reserva AÑEJO 100% Agave" and elegant like the "Cenote CRISTALINO Tequila Añejo" over intense like the "Corralejo Tequila 99,000 HORAS AÑEJO" up to strong like the "Aha Toro Tequila Añejo". Otherwise, a Tequila Añejo can have aromas of whiskey, bourbon and sherry due to the aging process and the associated contact with the used oak barrel. On the nose, it presents a bouquet of chocolate, vanilla, coffee, butter, wood and sometimes even leather. Smoke aromas, however, you will not find or if, then only very light. You can get all the Añejos mentioned here, among other things, in our Añejo Tequila Shop.
Tequila Añejo - Drinking Culture
Tequila Añejo is a good, high-quality tequila made from 100 percent Weber agave. Even when swirling the glass, a good Añejo signals that the quality of this spirit is right by slowly running down the "streaks" at the edge of the glass. The Añejo Tequila is enjoyed at room temperature, so that the aromas can develop better. It is drunk neat; unlike Blanco or Reposado, it is not suitable for mixed drinks.
An Añejo should be served neat at a drinking temperature between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius, depending on its age. At this temperature, the Tequila Añejo unfolds all its aromas. You should drink it from a nosing glass or cognac snifter, since the rounded shape of the glass prevents the aromas of the tequila from evaporating and allowing them to breathe. As a rule of thumb: the older, the warmer, the more bulbous the glass.
A noble Tequila Añejo is not drunk as a shot with salt and lemon or cinnamon with orange, like other tequilas, but neat, in small sips. Take a small sip, leave it in your mouth for about ten seconds, swish it back and forth in your mouth, and only then swallow it. By the second sip, you won't feel the alcohol as strongly, the tequila will seem milder, and you'll be able to explore the flavors in all their facets.
Tequila Añejo is a 36 to 55 percent Mexican national spirit that is distilled two to three times from 100 percent blue agave (Weber agave). Its production is standard only in the five states of Mexico approved by the government. An Añejo must mature for a minimum of one year and a maximum of three years in used oak or holm oak barrels. It is a high quality tequila that will spoil you with unique taste sensations in taste and body as well as in the finish. The Tequila Añejo belongs to the high-quality tequilas.