Bringing Terroir into Tequila
There was once a time when the idea of terroir was limited to the classification and appreciation of wine. In time, the spirits industry embraced the notion that its products could also instill a sense of place. This philosophy has recently taken hold of the luxury tequila market, and the category’s latest player, Volcán De Mi Tierra—the first premium tequila launched by Moët Hennessy—showcases the distinctive flavors of its lowland and highland agave fields in somewhat unusual ways.
To create the recipes that compose Volcán’s two tequila expressions, Anna Maria Romero Mena, the brand’s maestra de tequila, experimented with numerous yeast strains, cask maturations, and—most significantly—various blends of blue agave plants sourced from both the lowlands and the highlands. “It was my hope to create a spirit that is truly committed to expressing the heart of the agave and terroir from which it came,” she says.
Although one could easily be misled by its modest price, the brand’s unaged silver tequila, Volcán De Mi Tierra Blanco ($40), is distinct from most other unaged tequilas thanks to its luscious, velvety mouthfeel and a complex flavor profile. Herbaceous flavors and aromas (think green onions) reflect lowlands-grown blue agave and are balanced by sweeter citrus and floral notes that characterize agave plants from the highlands. The tequila’s syrupy viscosity and layered flavors make it aptly suited for sipping.
Volcán De Mi Tierra’s aged expression, Cristalino ($60), may be classified as an añejo, but it is really a blend of añejo and extra añejo tequilas that have matured in French oak casks for 1 and 3 years, respectively. Following that maturation, the tequilas are filtered with activated charcoal, which removes the barrel-added color but preserves the flavor. From there, the añejo is finished for 15 days in ex-Cognac casks, while the extra añejo spends 15 final days in ex-whiskey barrels.
When asked why activated charcoal filtration was an important step in the process, Volcán De Mi Tierra’s CEO, Trent Fraser, explained that it is a popular trend in Mexico, and he wanted the brand to stay loyal to its native land. Beyond that, he believes the spirit’s clarity increases the tequila’s year-round appeal.
Unlike the brand’s blanco, the Cristalino is distilled exclusively from lowlands-grown blue agave. Where the blanco is more refined, softer, and more luscious than most other unaged tequilas, the Cristalino—thanks to its use of only lowland agave—is bolder and more assertive than many other añejos. That makes it an ideal aged tequila for aficionados who are unwilling to sacrifice the characteristic agave flavors that define the spirit.