A meticulous and complex process is what produces quality tequila. From its collection in the agave fields to its bottling, tequila must go through many stages to obtain this traditional drink.
And distillation is one of the most critical moments in tequila production. According to the 006 regulation, two distillations must be fulfilled to create authentic tequila. And at Casa Sauza, we have a distillation in two very different stages, ensuring our product's excellence.
We call the first distillation "shredding," which removes the water and concentrates the alcohol present in the fermented must. The second stage, called "rectification, " aims to separate the product into three categories: head, heart, and tails, to obtain a higher quality final product.
If you want to know more about the tequila distilling process, keep reading!
Step 1: Shredding
In this first distillation stage, the aim is to concentrate the alcohols of the fermented agave juice. The fermented must is obtained from the previous step, which is introduced into the distillation columns to remove the water and concentrate the alcohols present.
The must be obtained from the fermentation is placed inside a distillation column, and steam is injected until it reaches a temperature of 97°C. Thanks to this steam, the liquid components of the fermented must are separated. Then, we remove the water, and the alcoholic vapors remain, which are re-introduced into the mixture through a condensation process.
Step 2: Rectification
After we finish the destruction process, the second distillation of tequila continues, which at Casa Sauza we call rectification.
The objective of rectification is to separate the mixture into different batches, transforming the product into tequila. In stills, we completed the rectification process, obtaining a tequila with the graduation up to 65%.
With the rectification, we categorize the mixture by making cuts into three groups:
- Heads: The first volatile alcohols to be discarded.
- Heart: It is what will later be transformed into tequila.
- Tails: Similar to heads and also discarded.
In this process, we seek to extract the heart of tequila. We will transform this heart in the next stage. With the content in the alembic, it begins to be distilled in batches until it reaches the heart. Once the heart of the tequila is obtained, the distillate is concentrated to achieve the desired alcohol content for each brand and variety of tequila.
Initially, the alcohol in the heart can reach up to 90% graduation, and with the distillation process, its degree decreases until it reaches the desired level. So, for example, for our Sauza Tequila, we cut the distillate to 63%, and all the rest of the liquid is further distilled to remove the alcohol and become the tails, plus the heads and tails can be put back into a new distillation process to obtain a new product.
According to current environmental regulations, we treat all by-products generated in distillation in a Wastewater Treatment Plant.