Chivas Regal Master Blender Colin Scott once compared his role of making scotch to that of the conductor of an orchestra: “the musicians may change but the tune is always the same.” While this example may be a little high brow for a Tequila company, and I do always feel strange being called a Master Blender when photos of me like this are leaked out.
However, the blending process of making Tanteo Jalapeño Tequila is the final assurance that each batch is consistent - perfect both on the rocks or as a Tanteo Jalapeño Margarita. Like a blended scotch, where the Master Blender is responsible for ensuring each malt’s proportions is tweaked according to the season to maintain the consistency of Johnnie Walker Blue Label or Chivas Royal Salute, it is up to me to make sure Tanteo Jalapeño Tequila remains the same from batch to batch. In the last two posts, I talked about the sourcing of Tanteo’s Jalapeños, and how we maintain consistency, but this is not enough to ensure that the final product is consistent.
The blending of Tanteo always takes place at our laboratory just off our bottling line (see the below photo of Ernesto helping me with the blending). when we start a production, we gather samples of all the macerates we made (Jalapeños + overproof Tequila), both old and new. I then take out our secret formula and mimic the exact same formula we used for the last batch. In the 33 batches of Tanteo Jalapeño we have produced, these have never been identical.
This is the starting point of each blending session. From this first version I decide what is missing or what is too overpowering, and I lower or increase the different macerates to control the final product. The heat of the peppers works your taste buds, and this blending process is time intensive as you need to give your taste buds time to rest in between blends.
Obviously, piquancy, or how hot the Tequila is, is a key attribute I need to mimic from batch to batch, but it goes more in depth from that: Where is heat hitting? How long does it last? How does it change after 5,10, 20, or 30 seconds?
However, heat is not the only factor that changes. When you open up a bottle of Tanteo Jalapeño Tequila, there is a burst of green pepper that comes from our M2 macerate, and the longer we age the M2, the less this pepper comes through. Finding the right balance of green pepper to the more rich, almost smoky characteristic that comes from aging the macerates is a tough balance to reach.
All in all though, the most important thing to blending great Tequila is patience, discipline, and consistency. In the liquor business, we like to keep a mystery behind what we do, but the art of blending is more about doing the same thing over than about magic. The discipline it takes to create Tanteo Jalapeño is a big reason why we started the company - Jalapeño Tequila is really, really good, but requires painstaking detail to create. Which reminds me - time to get back to work
Para la Buena Vida