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Where Does Tequila "Spicyness" Come From?

This is for the "What in the world is that?" category. You have something different, something odd or just putting things together in a different way?. Tell us about it and let us comment, laugh, or puke....

Where Does Tequila "Spicyness" Come From?

Postby vickrockafeller » Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:59 pm

I'm not really much of a tequila fan. However I was able to buy a variety of different agaves, and thought it would be interesting to compare. They were called Light, Blue UWC, and Wild. Raw there wasn't much difference between the Light and Blue UWC. Wild had the most flavor and character raw but fermented out to be pretty mellow as a wash. I botched the fermentation on the Light somehow. Think it got a lacto infection super early, as it didn't ferment much and the wash turned super acidic. Started at 1.050 and ended at 1.038.

When I started them, as the wash started to warm up there was a distinct Tequila aroma, but the product came out without any real tequila spicyness, really just tastes like sugar shine. I ran it though 4 plates, which is probably too much. I tried running Light the though the column with no reflux, but it had so little alcohol, It kinda just all blew though as heads and was hard to judge.

I read in a recent post that most agaves available for purchase are too refined to give much character. I've also heard that much of what we identify as "tequila character" is actually from added flavorings. not sure if it is to the wash or the spirit itself, or if that is even true. I thought of adding some Rye. I might just give up on tequila, as the agave wasn't very cheep anyways, but I'm a bit puzzled, and was wondering if anyone was knowledgeable on the subject.
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Re: Where Does Tequila "Spicyness" Come From?

Postby S-Cackalacky » Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:07 am

Much of the character of tequila comes from the processing of the agave plants. Using agave syrup is much like using processed sugar and won't give the same flavor notes.

Some folks have been experimenting with sweet potatoes and say that it produces something very similar in flavor to tequila. Never tried it myself.
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Re: Where Does Tequila "Spicyness" Come From?

Postby pintoshine » Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:37 am

I have done tons of experiments. One thing I noticed was that HFCS provided a flavor that everyone who tried it said "it tastes like Tequila". It is the only ingredient I ever got that flavor from. I haven't tried any of the Agave Nectar products due to price. I do believe the byproducts from the fermentation of fructose has something to do with it though. Some have reported similar results with Jerusalem artichokes which are also high in the same sugar as agave and can be processed in a similar way with really bad yield.
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Re: Where Does Tequila "Spicyness" Come From?

Postby vickrockafeller » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:25 am

Awesome thanks. HFCS and artichokes we're not the answers I was expecting. Maybe I'll try sweet potatoes and then add HFCS to boost the gravity a bit next time.
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Re: Where Does Tequila "Spicyness" Come From?

Postby ElectricEd » Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:12 pm

It's not sugar in agave, it's inulin. The same stuff is in Jerusalem artichokes. The trouble with artichokes is that it is very hard to clean them commercially so any spirit made from them tends to have a dirty flavour.
If you can figure out how to clean them you'd be an instant millionaire. They grow really quickly and would take over from agave.
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Re: Where Does Tequila "Spicyness" Come From?

Postby Kareltje » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:07 pm

It is said by some that you can make tequila from onions, as these also contain inulin.
And I know from an Austrian distillate made from Jerusalem artichokes (and tasting as bad too!).
I saw the recipe for onions, but it took at least three runs and lot of airing to get rid of the taste of onion!

I never dared to try it: too much work for too little result. I found it on HomeDistiller, but can not find it again now. Can translate back, if you like!
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Re: Where Does Tequila "Spicyness" Come From?

Postby zedzedtop » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:42 pm

I know the inulin requires heat to breakdown into fructose. I don't know how enzymes might be involved, if at all. Been some years since I looked into it, but at that time, the was very little chemistry discussed in regards to processing agave for spirit production.

Around here there are plenty of freely growing larger agaves, but most of them are unkempt, with several years of flowering and pup production, basically making the prospect of a good harvest quite troublesome.
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