When premium tequila is ready to be aged into a reposado, anejo, or extra anejo, the spirit is pumped into oak barrels that are stacked on top of another or in a “rackhouse” at 55-60%. Barrels in these stacks age tequilas at different rates because the environment changes as you move from top to bottom, away from the sunshine coming in the door, or towards a dark corner.
In warm environments, like Jalisco, where our favorite spirit is made, the aging rooms floors are misted or water is sprayed ground floor to keep it moist and cool. Generally, barrels at the bottom of the stack stay cool and damp, aging slowly, and sometimes even lowering in proof due to additional water molecules penetrating the barrels.
Conversely, Barrels at the top of the stack or rack are in a hot and dry environment, and age at an accelerated rate. Here, the wood “dries” quickly and water particles, which are smaller than alcohol molecules, escape into the outside environment. In these barrels, proof can actually increase to 65-70% by the time the tequila is removed.
Barrels in the center of the rack stay more consistent in their aging since they have less exposure to change.
Once the tequila is aged, depending on the category of Tequila being made - reposado tequilas, añejo tequilas, or extra añejo tequilas - a master blender tastes from the different barrels and locations and blends them together for consistency, flavor, and quality. Who doesn’t want that job?!
There are so many other factors that affect the aging of Tequila and we’ll be discussing them all through the next couple of months! And as always, if you have questions, send them our way!