The elaboration of Rudo and Tecnico tequilas begins with cultivation of blue agaves. Blue agaves, used in production of our tequilas, are grown in the Highlands of Jalisco, the area known as "Los Altos". Aficionados of the drink believe that Los Altos is the best region for the cultivation of blue agave. Thanks to the high altitudes of Los Altos above sea level, these agave plants take much more time to grow to full maturity than the plants grown in the plains, and since it takes more time these plants consolidate more agave flavors, which they later impart to the final tequila. In addition, blue agave plants, that are grown in the Highlands, often have more sweet fruit flavor and more pronounced vegan notes, which enrich the tequila's taste.
Elaboration of tequila is a seven-step process:
The results of this long and labor-intensive process depend on a distillery's closely guarded "know-how" and how closely the producer follows the traditions of tequila-making.
Planting, tending and harvesting the agave plant remains a manual effort, unchanged by modern technologies, and stretching back hundreds of years. Agave plants take about 7 to 9 years to be ready for use. At the peak of its maturity, the blue agave consolidates the maximum amount of flavorful sugars. The men who harvest it, the "jimadores", possess generations of knowledge about the plants. The jimadores cut the stems off with the "coa" knife (similar to a machete, but with the rounded point), and harvest the "heart" of the agave, which looks like a pineapple (that is why we call it "piña", which means pineapple). An agave "piña" can weigh up to180 pounds (normally, it weights around 100 to 135 pounds). These hearts of the agave are used to produce tequila.
The elaboration process continues with the cooking and grinding of the agave hearts. The cooking can be performed either in the traditional masonry ovens or in stainless steel autoclaves. The cooking period is longer in masonry ovens (48 hours) than in autoclaves (12 hours). The purpose of this stage is to convert agave nectar into sugars which are easy to ferment. While autoclaves are cheaper and faster, they fail to properly convert nectar into flavorful sugars which causes the tequila to have the harsh taste. We slow-bake our blue agaves according to the traditional method, in stone ovens called “hornos”. This method ensures that the sugars are properly cooked and not caramelized. Once agaves are cooked to perfection, they are shredded and juices are extracted.
We use the juice from the first pressing of the baked agaves only, and then slowly ferment the "mosto", a process that requires approximately 72-96 hours, to transform the sugars into alcohol. In an effort to reduce costs and speed up production, many other producers use commercial yeast to jump-start fermentation. No such short cuts, are practiced to make Rudo and Tecnico tequilas.
The fermented product is double distilled to produce clear tequila called Blanco. While Blanco does not require aging, Reposado and Anejo must mature in casks before consumption. As with other spirits, that are aged in casks, tequila takes on the flavors of the wood, while the harshness of the alcohol mellows. We age our tequila in white oak barrels, previously used for bourbon production. Reposado takes 4 months to mature at minimum and Anejo -18 months.
The closer a distillery follows traditional artisanal methods of tequila production, the better is the final result - taste and flavor of the beverage. The distillers, or “cooks” carefully preserve the secrets of production, which are passed from generation to generation.