Tony Salles, Grasp Distiller at tequila El Tequileño, had a dilemma. His model had just lately achieved wider distribution exterior of Mexico and into Canada, and a few clients to the North had been complaining that they might see solids of their bottles.

He knew that this was as a result of the fatty acids that maintain aroma and taste parts, known as esters (pure parts within the agave plant) had solidified within the freezing temperatures. He wasn’t precisely positive what to do about it.

“We’ve largely bought in Mexico, the place it’s heat, so in 60 years of manufacturing we by no means had this difficulty earlier than,” Salles says.

On the subject of eradicating solids, some spirits producers select a course of known as chilly filtration, which chills the liquid to round freezing (26 to 32 levels Fahrenheit), after which scrapes the solids from the highest. Nonetheless, Salles believed this course of would change the profile of his tequila.

“It’s like once you put rooster soup within the fridge in a single day,” he says. “For those who scrape the fats from the highest of the broth and reheat it, it won’t style the identical.”

Tequila, like most different spirits, is often filtered earlier than bottling. Producers typically use paper, cellulose (a extra porous plant-based materials), or activated carbon, to take away any undesirable particles left from the manufacturing course of. It may additionally enhance the feel, and create brilliance within the tequila. However filtration isn’t talked about as an important step in tequila making.

“Filtration is a course of that has been realized era to era based mostly on the applied sciences that now we have on the time,” says Salvador Rosales, Jr. of Tequila Cascahuín, who runs the distillery alongside along with his father, Salvador Rosales Sr. “First we glance to take away any undesirable particles, often utilizing paper, after which it’s a matter of what sort of profile you need to create.”

Some strategies are identified to chop the alcohol burn, or make the tequila smoother for consuming, comparable to activated carbon, he says. However it could additionally take a bit of little bit of the aromas and flavors away, making the tequila less complicated. For some customers, that is most well-liked.

The latest rise of cristalinos – aged tequilas which are filtered till they seem clear, like a blanco – have introduced extra consideration to filtration in tequila. Producers of those merchandise typically depend on activated carbon to strip the colour away, understanding that many taste and aroma parts can even be misplaced. This creates a “smoother” tequila.

Whereas filtration is the defining step within the course of for cristalinos, in different expressions it’s thought-about a remaining contact. Besides when you’ve clients fearful about cloudiness.

An activated carbon filter on the El Tequileño distillery.

“Activated carbon has been extensively utilized in tequila to take away the ‘haze’” (or fatty acids),” says Eduardo Espinosa de los Monteros of Filtration de Proceso, who has 15 years of expertise filtering high-value liquids.

He factors out that there are grades of carbon, comparable to micropores and macropores. These have totally different capabilities for “adsorption”, or the focus of molecules on the floor. Micropores assist in eradicating odors, whereas macropores take away stronger colours and pronounced flavors, Espinosa de los Monteros says, which is presumably higher for cristalino manufacturing. However all carbon filtration will change the profile of a tequila to a sure extent, relying on the focus used and the quantity of contact it has with the liquid, he notes.

That’s why Tequileño’s Salles wasn’t contemplating carbon filtering for his common line, though he just lately began producing a cristalino that makes use of carbon filtration to take away the colour left from barrel ageing.

He already makes use of paper, cellulose, polypropylene (a kind of thermoplastic), and a really outdated ceramic filtration technique he realized from his father to ensure that his tequila was clear and sensible. So when it got here to the difficulty fatty acids, he was considering extra about schooling.

“Tequila is a pure product, with fat that comprise taste. It isn’t the identical as vodka, which is valued for its neutrality,” Salles says.

However to deal with his clients’ feedback, he ran an experiment utilizing cellulose to filter his “ordinario” (the liquid produced within the first distillation of the tequila making course of.) The cellulose vendor assured him that filtering at this stage would eradicate the difficulty of solids forming in chilly climate.

Among the ordinario was 100% filtered by the cellulose, some at 75%, 50%, and at last 25% filtered. (A photograph of the pattern bottles is on the high of this story.) His staff tasted all of the samples towards their usually produced blanco. The consensus got here shortly: even on the 25% filtered the tequila didn’t style the identical.

“We misplaced some complexity and taste,” Salles says. In the long run, they determined to not change their course of.

Though Tequileño determined to not filter their ordinario, numerous different producers select this technique to take away undesirable particles, and forestall cloudiness of their completed product.

“We did quite a lot of trial and error,” says José Valdez, Common Director & Maestro Tequilero of Tequila Partida. “For us, carbon filtering and chilly filtering eliminated an excessive amount of taste.”

As a substitute, Partida makes use of paper and cellulose filters to scrub their core line tequilas and forestall cold-weather haze. (They too just lately began producing cristalinos, and use carbon filtering for these merchandise.)

Cellulose Filtration machine

A typical cellulose filtration machine will contain a number of plates of cellulose, and go the liquid by means of it underneath strain.

At Distilleria Cascahuín, they steered away from chilly filtration of their core Cascahuín line in Mexico, though they’ve a system on website.

“We use cellulose cartridges to filter by gravity, not even utilizing a pump, so it gently removes the particles, however doesn’t change the profile of our tequila,” says Rosales Jr.

They use chilly filtration for some merchandise produced for export, besides in the case of Cascahuín exported to Japan. Because the importer was already conscious of esters and their solid-making potential, they determined to place a sticker on their bottles, informing clients that these fatty acids are a traditional and pure a part of the tequila making course of.

Over on the Feliciano Vivanco Distillery, NOM 1414, Grasp Distiller Sergio Cruz takes an identical strategy. For finer tequilas, they use a mild filtering technique, permitting the liquid to go by means of cellulose utilizing gravity. The purpose is to take away any undesirable particles which will come from tanks or barrels.

“These merchandise often don’t want a lot filtering as a result of we take care by means of each a part of the method,” Cruz says.

Nonetheless, in the case of extra economical merchandise, he could pump the tequila by means of cellulose and activated carbon plates to scrub up the country profile and easy out the flavors.

“It additionally is dependent upon the product, and the area (the place it’s bought),” says Cruz. “Right here in Arandas, folks like a tequila the place the agave and the alcohol are extra current, so for them I don’t actually need to do something.”

That brings us again to Salles’ predicament. Will schooling round tequila manufacturing lead clients to see solids floating of their bottles as an indication of artisanal taste? We’ll should see.

Grasp Distiller Tony Salles explains the varied strategies of filtration widespread within the tequila business:

Our Filtration Notes

We had been lucky sufficient to style Tequileño’s filtered samples from their experiment. Listed below are our notes:

– Evaluating the 100% ordinario filtered pattern towards their regular product, each the aroma and taste are noticeable muted. There may be additionally a mouthfeel change: It smooths it out considerably, but in addition flattens it. There should not the identical spikes of taste you typically get from a tequila, particularly within the end.

– Even at 25% filtered there’s a slight flattening of the aroma, however much less have an effect on on the mouthfeel.

– The 50% filtered model is probably a cheerful medium if you’re seeking to diminish any undesirable aromas/flavors, whereas nonetheless retaining some brightness within the profile. Nonetheless, if it’s a well-made tequila you might lose some complexity.

Frequent Questions (and Solutions)

– Is it OK to place my tequila within the freezer?
Our opinion? No. Doing this might trigger the pure fatty acids within the tequila to separate out. These contribute aromas and flavors to the tequila. We predict it’s greatest to go away the coolness filtration to the specialists. Nonetheless, it’s your tequila, so drink it the way you prefer it!

– My tequila is cloudy/has particles it it? Is it nonetheless good?
Normally, sure. For those who shake up the bottle whereas it’s at room temperature the particles or cloudiness ought to dissipate because the fatty acids are re-absorbed into the liquid. If there are blue particles floating on the high, that’s often copper from the nonetheless. After we see this occur we simply rigorously pour it out of the bottle and proceed consuming what’s left.

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