With sales of tequila doubling over the last decade
, many tequila makers are looking back to their roots.
Tequila is made by grinding the roasted agave to squeeze out the juice, which is then fermented and distilled. Nearly a decade ago, Guillermo Erickson Sauza, of the eponymous tequila dynasty, founded Fortaleza, a brand that produces tequila using the traditional method of milling roasted agave by crushing it with a giant stone wheel, called the tahoma. The method allows more of the fibers to mingle with the juice.
“We were originally going to do a machine crush, but we tasted the stone-crushed and we said, that’s it,” Erickson Sauza told The Huffington Post. “The milling is like squeezing the orange by hand versus squeezing with a machine.”
It’s a more labor-intensive process. Erickson Sauza says Fortaleza produces some 2,000 liters of tequila a week, while some distilleries might pump out 100,000 liters in a single day. “It’s not giant volumes,” Erickson Sauza told HuffPost. “The big guys probably laugh at us.”
Not all of them are. Patrón, which dominates the market for premium tequilas
in the United States, is releasing a 100 percent tahoma-milled Patrón Roca tequila this year. Patrón has always produced some tequila this way, but the flagship line is a blend of tahoma-milled and machine-milled tequilas.
"This is an indication of the evolution of tequila," Patrón spokesman Greg Cohen told HuffPost. "Tequila was for margaritas, tequila was for shots, and that's about it. But at a pretty quick pace, people have come to realize tequila is a sophisticated spirit."