Q&A: Master Distiller German Gonzalez Talks Aging Tequila in Scotch Barrels

The recent boom in craft alcohol and connoisseurship has given rise to creative production techniques, including in barrel-aging.

Distilleries know that modern drinkers expand their palates beyond one single category. This has led to some interesting crossovers, like whiskey aged in wine or beer barrels, or wine aged in ex-bourbon. It has also seen tequilas spending time in whiskey barrels, like the new t1 Tequila Uno Sensacional.

This 84-proof extra-añejo tequila is aged for three and a half years in ex-scotch barrels. A 750-ml bottle of Sensacional retails for $119, and is available at liquor stores, restaurants and bars in New Orleans, Charleston, San Antonio and in central and south Florida. I recently had opportunity to chat with its Master Distiller, German Gonzalez (pictured above), about the technique of scotch-aging tequila:

BD: What gave you the idea to age tequila in scotch barrels?
GG: That is something that I learned from my father. He knew how important the wood was in order to create an aged product without losing the agave elements of the tequila.

BD: What does tequila gain from aging in scotch barrels?
GG: In my personal opinion, the main purpose is to acquire dryness from the used barrels.”

BD: What scotch was in those barrels before?
GG: It’s a secret!

BD: How does the flavors of ex-scotch barrels match with the tequila flavors?
GG: The interesting thing is that the flavors don’t match but they combine and complement each other very well.

BD: As tequila connoisseurship grows, will we see more of these special barrel-aged tequilas?
GG: I believe that tequila is very new to wood – and that in time, we will see much more sophisticated products emulating what we have already done with T1 and Tears [of Llorona].

BD:Would you age tequila in other whiskey/whisky barrels?
GG: Same as question number three – I keep the barrel type secret.

BD: Any other special tequila projects in the works?
GG: Yes, we will create more products as we acquire more knowledge about this amazing new tequila area where we make the tequila – We want to name this area as the High Lanes of GTO (Guanajuato) – we want to learn more about how the new weather, soil, water, etc. enhances the tequila.

Kyle Swartz is the associate editor of Beverage Dynamics Magazine. Reach him at kswartz@epgmediallc.com and follow him on Twitter at @kswartzz.

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