Tequila has a reputation as a fun spirit for shots but this totally undervalues its amazing flavours. Unlock your tequila’s potential in our expert tequila tasting guide.
Our guide offers a four step process to tasting tequila, as well as the flavour profiles for the most popular styles of tequila.
Tequila tasting guide
The art of tequila tasting has four easy steps. If you’ve ever tasted wine or whiskey professionally, you may already be familiar with the steps listed below.
Step 1 - Choosing the glass
Step 2 - Observing
Step 3 - Nosing
Step 4 - Tasting
Step 1: Choosing the glass
This is a very important place to start when tequila tasting. We recommend using a Riedel Ouverture glass. Riedel usually produce glassware for wine tasting, however, they made a glass especially for tasting tequila.
However, these glasses can be hard to come by and so tasting from a brandy glass is just as good. Añejo and reposado tequila are especially good for tasting in this glass. The brandy glass allows the aroma to circulate and aerate, offering a perfect tasting experience.
Step 2: Observing
Now you have the right glass, we can continue. The second step is understanding which type of tequila you have and how it looks. There are five styles of tequila which are; blanco, gold, reposado, añejo and extra añejo. Each tequila goes through a different process that significantly affects the flavour and look. Blanco tequila has a clear appearance, gold and reposado both have a golden hue to the spirit, and añejo tequila is a light brown colour.
Observe the appearance of the tequila. Take a look at the ‘agave tears’ around the inside of the glass after swirling. These are the tequila’s essential oils. A good tequila has long legs that do not dissipate easily or quickly.
Step 3: Nosing
Just as with wine and whiskey, tequila has a wide range of notes to nose. This, of course, is dependent upon the style of tequila and where the blue agave plant was grown.
To release the aromas, swirl the tequila glass, so that the tequila coats the sides of the glass. Now, place your nose over the rim and inhale. This is nosing. Take in the main, dominant note that hits you. After nosing three more times, you will be able to pick up the other hidden notes within the tequila. Alcohol rises quickly, therefore, this will be the first note to pick up. Swirling the glass means it’s easier for other notes to release.
Note down the aromas and feelings when nosing, to keep a record during the tasting.
Step 4: Tasting
Finally, it’s time to taste the tequila. Take roughly five small sips of tequila in order to fully release the flavours. The first sip will most likely just taste of alcohol, just like with nosing. However, sip by sip, you can open the full body of the tequila. Hold the tequila on your tongue and move the fluid around your mouth. Take a small breath of air to aerate the tequila within your mouth and exhale through the nose. Finally, swallow or spit the tequila. You will continue to taste notes even after this.
You can use a tequila tasting wheel when doing this to see if you can identify the flavours. These wheels are used in chocolate and wine tasting too, to help you identify flavours and related aromas.
Tequila has a whole range of flavours, depending on style, brand and area of production. It can range from a bitter, citrusy blanco tequila to a smoky, sweet añejo. Below are some of the most common notes in the three main styles of tequila.