A TEQUILA FOR EVERYONE
Espolòn tequila is the dream come true of Master Distiller Cirilo Oropeza. Tequila-making is Cirilo’s life’s work, and from the start he made it his charge to use his skill and passion for the art to create a tequila so good that he would be proud to share it with the world. Espolòn is that tequila.
Named for the spur of the iconic rooster, a national symbol of pride, and packaged in a spirited salute to the art of legendary José Guadalupe Posada, the tequilas of Espolòn are a powerful tribute to the true storied culture of Mexico itself.
Like any good Master, Cirilo has his secrets. But he’s proud to share the keys to making his beloved Espolòn the tequila for everyone.
Destiladora San Nicolas (NOM-1440) is located in Jalisco, among the plantations of the Los Altos (Highlands). Known for its highly desired Blue Weber Agave, the region produces agave larger in size and sweeter in aroma and taste.
The Plascencia family has roots in the tequila industry dating back to 1898. Don Celso Plascencia was a humble working man born in the Highlands. He worked the land and, as he traveled to and from the fields that belonged to other men, he promised that one day his family would own their own estate and make their own tequila. In 1996, Don Celso’s grandson Raul Plascencia fulfilled this dream with the completion of Destiladora San Nicolas.
To lead the operation Plascencia tapped Cirilo Oropez, whose undeniable talent and steadfast commitment to quality distillation made him the perfect match. The facilities at San Nicolas are a perfect blend of both ancestral Mexican tradition and the latest technology.
Espolòn is sourced from 100% blue weber agave. Our agave grows in rich soil at 1800–2000 meters above sea level in the "Golden Triangle" of the Highlands.
The challenging environment of the Highlands yields fruit with a higher sugar content and more intense flavor than agave grown in other regions. The hot days and cool nights, the water low in calcium and rich in important minerals, and the rocky soil are all ideal for agave growing.
The piñas, the heart of the agave, are judiciously harvested when the fruit has reached its sweet spot–traditionally between six and ten years–and incorporated only when the plant is perfectly aged to provide a full, mature and flavorful product. For Espolòn, that is seven years, on average.
Once harvested, a quality inspection is carried out on the fruit. Once the piñas pass inspection they are taken to our distillery where they are cut into four pieces, as opposed to the industry average of two, because the increased surface area helps create a sweeter more approachable tequila.
Our Slow Cooking
Our quartered piñas are slow cooked in temperature-controlled 17,000-kilogram capacity autoclaves for up to 22 hours–longer than the industry standard of 18 hours-to allow for more caramelization. Steam is injected to activate the chemical conversion of complex carbohydrates into simple fermentable sugars.
While earthen ovens were traditionally used, Espolòn piñas are roasted in outdoor stainless steel pressure cookers in order to guarantee stability and a smoother finishing tequila.
The softened, cooked piñas are transferred to a milling area for sugar extraction. The fruit is crushed in order to release the juice that will be fermented.
The traditional method of crushing piñas calls for use of a Tahona, or giant grinding wheel operated by mules or oxen around a circular pit. For Espolòn, four mechanical roller mills separate the juice extract (“aguamiel”) from the fibrous pulp (“bagasse”), which is then used to fuel our stills.
During the fermentation process the sugars are transformed into alcohol within sealed 60,000-liter capacity stainless steel tanks in an insulated hall. Our 26 tanks are stainless steel to give the cleanest agave flavor and sealed to ensure no airborne yeast contaminates the wash.
The process takes ~72 hours yielding a wort with an alcohol level of 4%-7% and uses a proprietary strain of yeast, which plays a major role in the distinct body, flavor and aroma of our tequilas.
The water used is put through a reverse osmosis process to achieve maximum purity. It is sourced from a 250-meter deep natural well that provides the tequila with a light, sweet, soft flavor.
The distillation process is simple in theory–the agave wort, or “mosto,” is heated to evaporate the alcohol, which is then condensed and collected–but extremely complex in practice. There are two types of distillation processes:
COLUMN STILL: Also called “Coffey”, is the modern method using a continuous process that does not require multiple distillations and yields a light, fruity spirit.
POT STILL: Also called “alembic” or “small batch,” is the traditional method and yields an oily, heavy, earthy spirit.
Both methods are used for Espolòn. The pot still distillation used for crafting Espolòn takes 5½ hours per batch, longer than the industry standard of 3½ hours, allowing more flavors to be extracted. Distillation takes place twice, with the heads and tails cut each time to preserve only the best of the liquid in the stainless steel pot stills.
Our first distillation, or “deztrozamiento,” takes a couple hours and yields a low-proof liquid with an alcohol level of 28% known as “ordinario.”
Our second distillation, or “rectificado,” takes three to four hours and yields a spirit-strength liquid with an alcohol level of 55%.
More than half of the final blend after distillation is the “heart” of the agave, resulting in a balanced, approachable tequila with a sweet and smooth flavor. This is our Espolòn Blanco Tequila.
Our Barrel Aging
Tequila is generally aged in used French or American oak bourbon barrels. Espolòn, however, ages only in "virgin" American oak barrels featuring a lighter No. 2 char to impart more subtle caramel and vanilla notes and ensure no additional influences for a truer, pure taste. Our 200-liter barrels are smaller than the industry standard 500-liter barrels, giving the liquid more contact with the wood for additional complexity.
As ageing increases, color deepens, sharpness minimizes, mellowness increases, flavor builds, and strength and volume decrease.
All our Reposados rest for between three to five months and our Añejos for twelve months, ten months in new American oak barrels and the final two months in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels with a No. 4 char.