Tequila aged in whiskey barrels (2023)

Tequila aged in whiskey barrels (1)

The legal requirements fortequilameans that when the spirit ages, it is always aged in oak. Sometimes this involves using new oak barrels, but you can also find tequila aged in whiskey barrels. In particular, we focus on tequila that has been aged in used – not new – whiskey barrels.

This practice is more than just a wayrepurposing whiskey barrels. Relying on used whiskey barrels also means that some of the whiskey flavors seep into the tequila, giving you a richer, more exciting product.

The whiskey that was previously in the barrel, the quality of the barrel and the aging time will also affect the taste of the tequila. Some companies have perfected the process, creating tequila with smoky, earthy flavors. Others haven't figured it out yet, and its flavor can overwhelm tequila.

The brands on this list are all fantastic choices. Many of them specialize in the use of whiskey barrels and consistently create amazing products. Some also have multiple expressions, with different durations and aging styles.

There are also differences in approach. Some companies age their tequila exclusively in used whiskey barrels, while others use new barrels for much of the aging process and then finish the tequila in a used whiskey barrel. The type of barrel, aging time and even the brand of whiskey also affect the taste of the final tequila.


Expressions Tequila Heart of Agave

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tequila hearthas more than 130 years of tequila creation history. Their tequila is distilled in Jalisco, Mexico using only carefully grown and harvested Weber blue agave. The company also has a strong environmental conscience and regularly looks for ways to make its traditional approaches greener.

Every step of the tequila production process is carefully designed and refined to ensure consistent, high-quality products. This includes waiting between 7 and 10 years for the agave to mature perfectly, careful harvesting of the agave plants, well-planned extraction processes and 72 hours of fermentation.

The tequila is then aged in barrels at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, giving them a distinct flavor profile. His Buffalo Trace Old 22 Añejo is a great example of the style. This is based on barrels that have held whiskey for at least 22 years. The tequila itself is aged for 22 months or more. Another example is George T. Stagg Añejo, which is aged in George T. Stagg Bourbon barrels for 22 months.

Using different types of barrels for different expressions helps create some truly unique tequila flavor profiles. There is also more variety with this company than many others.

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Old Spolon tequila

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shot of tequilais another company worth your time. The labels alone make the tequila stand out, even when your bar is full of other bottles. These labels are designed to highlight Mexican stories and they do it extremely well.

Their tequila is always aged in American oak barrels. But their añejo tequila is particularly interesting. This spends at least 12 months aging. Most of this time is spent in regular American oak barrels, with at least a month spent in ex-Wild Turkey Bourbon barrels.

This is quite different from the 22 months that some Corazón Tequila products spend in ex-whisky barrels. However, this difference is not entirely bad. Keeping the tequila in the ex-whiskey cask for a month is enough to provide fantastic tones of flavor without drowning out other aspects of the tequila.

Tequila Eight

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Tequila EightIt is an unusual company in many ways. Founded in 2008 by master distiller Carlos Camarena and bar owner Tomas Estes. The company is strongly committed to land and craftsmanship, including the importance of authenticity and history.

One of the most unique characteristics is the concept of terroir. This term is usually a reference to the natural environment where the wine is produced, highlighting how the climate, soil and landscape can affect the taste of the wine. It's incredibly unusual to see the same term applied to tequila.

Tequila Ocho uses terroir by producing tequila batches from individual fields, rather than combining agave harvests from multiple locations. Tequila labels even include the field name and year, creating distinct vintages with variations in their flavor profiles.

All aging takes place in 200-liter American oak barrels, which were previously used for whiskey. These barrels have already been used for many tequila batches, so they impart only a subtle whiskey flavor.

This time there are three products we are interested in. The reposado tequila is aged in barrels for 8 weeks and 8 days, giving it a subtle amber color and sweet agave notes. Añejo tequila is aged for one year, giving it a more complex flavor profile and a light amber color.

Finally, there is the extra añejo tequila. This one is darker than previous versions as it has been aged for 3 years in whiskey barrels. This expression also has the most complex flavor profile.

NULU Rested Tequila

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NULU Reposado Tequila comes from a company calledHandcrafted Spirits of Prohibition. Unlike the other entries on this list, Prohibition Craft Spirits doesn't specifically focus on tequila. Instead they have a selection of different spirits including Baxters Rum, Phoenix Hill Vodka and NULU Bourbon.

Their NULU Tequila starts life in Jalisco, Mexico and is then shipped to Louisville. Here, it rests in NULU Bourbon barrels for four to six months, which gives it a distinct character. Prohibition Craft Spirits is one of the only companies to age tequila using their own whiskey barrels. Most other companies use barrels from other companies.

The only downside is that there's only one tequila expression to focus on. Prohibition Craft Spirits don't offer more, so you can't see how different aging times affect tequila flavor.

The fact that NULU Reposado tequila is not produced exclusively in Mexico makes it an exciting expression to try. You can find some flavor nuances and characteristics not found in other types of tequila.

flying tequila

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flying tequilais an amazing brand as it focuses on small batch tequila, always produced without additives. Even their water is impressive, as the company relies on a combination of deep well water, spring water and rainwater.

All processes have been carefully developed and perfected to ensure the best tequila every time. Volans Tequila also has an impressive history, being managed by the great-grandson of one of the original agave producers in Mexico. The company now has third and fourth generation stills – ensuring processes and techniques remain consistent.

Unusually, Volans only produces three types of tequila - blanco, reposado and extra añejo. We are interested today in the expressions reposado and añejo, as they age.

Both expressions are aged in used American white oak bourbon barrels. As these barrels were once used for bourbon, they add an extra touch of sweetness and complexity to the tequila.

The reposado version is the least complex, having aged in barrels for less than a year. In contrast, extra añejo undergoes more than three and a half years of aging, which gives it a much more impressive flavor profile. That said, the oak does not age as much as you would expect, as the barrels used are over 20 years old.

seven championships

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Siete Leugasis another artisanal company that relies on ex-bourbon barrels for its tequila. They follow a traditional tequila-making process, which involves cutting through the agave leaves to reveal the heart of the agave (or piña). Siete Leugas also keeps some of the green leaves, which are used as an ingredient to enhance the spirit's flavor profile.

There are six products to choose from with Siete Leguas, each with its particularities. Their reposado tequila is aged for 8 months, while their regular añejo is aged for an impressive 24 months.

Then there is extra añejo. There are two versions here, a 5 year old and a 8 to 12 year old. The length of aging should deliver some really complex flavors, especially as Siete Leguas also maintains an emphasis on quality.

There is also unaged Siete Leguas Blanco and a limited edition 70th anniversary blanco that promises even more surprising flavors and textures.

The treasure

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The treasureis an award-winning tequila brand that recently celebrated its 85th anniversary. The company's long history does not lack experience in creating truly amazing tequila expressions, ones that are very nuanced and still bring out the flavor of the agave.

Their reposado tequila is a particularly good expression. He scored 94 points in the 2021 Ultimate Spirits Challenge and won a double gold medal in the San Francisco Spirits competition the same year. The tequila is aged in ex-bourbon barrels for 9 to 11 months, giving it a straw color and a sweet, smoky flavor.

His añejo uses the same barrels but is aged for 2 to 3 years. The extra aging enhances the oak notes in the tequila without overpowering the agave. This expression also won the double gold medal in 2021 and scored 94 points in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge.

Finally, there is the extra añejo tequila. This time the aging time is increased to 4 to 5 years, creating a really impressive flavor profile. The agave is much less noticeable in this expression, although that hasn't stopped the tequila from winning awards.

El Tesoro also offers Paradiso tequila. This one follows a different pattern, as it ages for 5 years in ex-cognac barrels. Using cognac instead of whiskey creates a different flavor profile and makes this tequila expression very unusual.

lucky tequila

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lucky tequilafocuses on purity. The tequila production process is not only carefully refined, but also relies on natural spring water from Atotonilco El Alto. This water is naturally filtered and also has healing properties. Who knows if these qualities make the tequila better, but either way, it all makes for a good story.

In terms of aging, the reposado expression receives 7 months of aging, the añejo is aged for 24 months and the extra añejo is aged for over 7 years. Not surprisingly, the extra añejo expression has the richest flavor and darkest color.

Suerte gives little detail about the oak barrels they use - just saying they are American white oak barrels. However, many online references to tequila suggest that Jack Daniel's barrels are used, which is particularly exciting.

tequila fortress

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Finally, we haveForza Tequila. This company deliberately takes things slow, making sure that every step of their process is optimized and yields the best possible results.

This approach can also be seen in his aging stage. The company relies on used American oak barrels, all chipped and charred before use. These processes will increase the tequila's richness, making it an even more enjoyable product.

This time there are two expressions of seniors. The first is reposado tequila, aged for 7 months. Then there is the expression añejo. This is aged for 2 years - a similar duration to many of the other añejo tequilas on this list.

What to consider when buying tequila aged in whiskey barrels

time spent aging

There are two factors here – how long the tequila has aged and how long it spends in used whiskey barrels. For example, Espolon Añejo Tequila spends at least 12 months aging, but it only ages in used whiskey barrels for about a month.

Not surprisingly, longer aging times lead to more complex tequila flavors. The agave flavor is still distinct, but now complemented by other flavors including woody and caramel.

Time spent in used whiskey barrels also adds some whiskey nuances to the tequila. These are stronger when the tequila is aged for many months in the used whiskey cask, rather than just a month or two.

What is the barrel for?

It is surprisingly difficult to determine when companies are relying on used whiskey barrels and when they are purchasing new barrels. Some companies even claim they use "new American oak whiskey barrels", which seems like a contradiction in terms.

If you're looking specifically for whiskey flavors, a new barrel isn't going to do the trick. So be on the lookout for companies that specifically say they have focused on used whiskey barrels or ex-whiskey barrels.

Even better are the companies that tell you where their whiskey barrels come from, like Tequila Corazón's Buffalo Trace Old 22 Añejo is aged in ex-Buffalo Trace barrels. Knowing where the barrels come from gives you a sense of the expected flavor profile, while making the brand more credible.

likes and comments

Don't forget to check out the tasting notes and reviews for any bottle of tequila you're considering. Also, the quality varies dramatically. Price, aging time, and brand alone are not solid indicators of whether you'll enjoy a particular tequila expression.

Reviews and tasting notes don't guarantee enjoyment either, but they at least give you an idea of ​​what to expect.

How to use tequila

Finally, consider what you plan to do with the tequila. If you focus ontequila cocktail, so you probably don't want a very expensive bottle of tequila that has been aged for more than five years.

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