Casa fogonero our distillery located in the state of jalisco benefits from the region semi dry climate with limited rainfall for only a couple of months and warm temperatures for most of the year. This environment allows the Agave to develop a herbal flavor profile, rather than a sweet one, providing us with a versatile and unique taste. Our Agave fields are situated eight miles from a volcanic crater in Amatitán, Jalisco, where the intense blue of the Agave stalks contrasts against the deep red of the soil, lit up by the strong sun. Our fields maintain the traditional manual labor done by local workers who prepare the soil without the use of modern machinery, just as it has been done for generations. Additionally, weeds are cleared twice a year to ensure the optimal growth of the Agave. Our current production capacity will last for the next five years, but each year we aim to increase it.
The 7 steps of Etéreo Tequila Making
The planting, tending, and harvesting of the blue weber agave plant remains a manual effort that relies on centuries-old know-how, passed down from generation to generation. The agave is grown in our distillery’s fields in the lowlands which have been cultivated for three generations. The plants grow in neat rows for six to ten years and are meticulously tended until they are ripe and ready to harvest.
The harvester, or “Jimador,” removes the agave leaves with a sharp curved tool called a coa. The Jimador trims the 200-plus leaves that protect the heart or piña of the agave until the whole heart is extracted from the ground. Only the heart, or “piña,” of the agave plant is used to make tequila. Mature piñas weigh anywhere between 80-300 pounds; however, the size of the agave heart is not nearly as important as its sugar content. The older the agave, the longer the piña will have to accumulate the starches that will convert into fermentable sugars. Approximately 15 pounds of agave piñas are required to produce one liter of delicious tequila.
During this step, steam injection within traditional brick ovens or stainless steel autoclaves is used to activate a chemical process within the piña that converts complex carbohydrates into simple fermentable sugars. Cooking also softens the piña, making the process of sugar extraction easier.
Once cooked, the agave heads are transported to a milling area for sugar extraction. The cooked piñas are crushed in order to release the juice, or “aguamiel,” that will be fermented. The traditional method is to crush the piñas with a “tahona,” a giant grinding wheel operated by mules, oxen or tractors within a circular pit. Modern distilleries now use a mechanical crusher to separate the fiber from the juices. Once the piñas are minced they are washed with water and strained to remove the juices.
During the fermentation process the sugars are transformed into alcohol within large wooden vats or stainless steel tanks. Yeast may be added to accelerate and control the fermentation. Traditionally, the yeast that grows naturally on the agave leaves is used; however, today many distilleries use a cultivated form of wild yeast. Fermentation typically takes seven to twelve days, depending on the method used.
The fifth step of creating tequila is distillation, which occurs with heat and steam pressure within stainless steel pot stills. While some tequilas are distilled three times, Etéreo tequila is distilled twice, which accentuates the purity of the agave notes. The first distillation, also known as “deztrozamiento” or “smashing,” takes a couple hours and yields a liquid with an alcohol level of about 20% known as “ordinario.” The second distillation, known as “rectification,” takes three to four hours and yields a liquid with an alcohol level near 55%. After the second distillation the tequila is considered silver, or “blanco,” tequila.
Our tequila is aged in either French Limousin Oak or American White Oak barrels that have previously been used to age bourbon. Reposados are aged between two and twelve months, Añejos are aged between one and three years and Extra Añejos are aged for over three years. The longer the tequila ages, the more color, and tannins the final product will have. The condition of the barrels (such as their age, previous use, and if their interiors have been burnt or toasted) will also affect the tequila’s taste.
The final step in our tequila making process is bottling and quality control using the most modern, automated techniques. Our bottles are made from high crystal glass and initially rinsed with the given tequila. The bottles are then filled, meticulously hand-labeled with stickers, and packaged in boxes. Each step of the process is overseen by two quality control managers.