Tequila aficionados who contend blanco tequilas are the surest measure of a distiller's skill and artistry make a valid point. While barrel-aged reposados and añejos are in their own right things of beauty, spending months or years in toasted oak barrels can mask imperfections in spirits.
Such is not the case with unaged blanco tequilas. These transparent gems greet the world exactly as they came out of the still—clear, vibrant and unadulterated. Whereas production flaws like off-flavors and aromas are readily apparent in blanco tequilas, they may go undetected in an aged expression. At the same time, blanco tequilas better showcase the character of the agave, which for enthusiasts is fundamentally important. No, if you really want to ascertain whether you'll like a particular range of tequilas, start the process by first sampling the cornerstone of the portfolio, the blanco.
A perfect example is Aha Yeto Tequila Blanco 100% de Agave. Alone in a glass, the tequila has pristine clarity, a satiny textured, medium-weight body and a generous bouquet of earth, dried herbs, flora, straw and toasted agave. Be patient and allow this tequila extra time to breathe so as to fully develop its aromatics. You'll be richly rewarded. Its gentle entry quickly expands filling the mouth with the delectable flavors of cinnamon, tropical fruit, clove, black pepper and anise, all of which are sustained throughout the lingering, spicy warm finish. A first-class experience from start to finish.
The explanation for Aha Yeto's depth of character can be attributed to how it's made. The sugar-rich agaves used to craft Aha Yeto originate in the high altitude of Arandas, Jalisco. After harvesting, the agaves are brought to Grupo Tequilero de Los Altos [NOM 1548] where they are baked in a traditional brick oven over the course of several days. Once they have cooled sufficiently, the agaves are shredded and the extracted juice—along with the plants' fibers—is transferred to large wooden vats. There the juice is allowed to slowly ferment using ambient, naturally occurring yeast to precipitate the process. The fermented wash—referred to as aguamiel—is then twice distilled in a traditional copper pot still. At that point, some of the batch is bottled as Aha Yeto Blanco Tequila, while the rest is put into charred, American white oak barrels for maturation.
The tequila selected to be Aha Yeto Tequila Reposado spends between 6 to 8 months in barrels used previously to age bourbon. During its stay in wood, the tequila develops a golden/amber hue, a silky textured body and an array of bakery-like aromas—vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, toffee and caramel. Its bouquet does a splendid job preparing the palate for the flavor extravaganza to come. The finish is thoroughly satisfying.
Equally impressive is Aha Yeto Tequila Añejo, a luxurious spirit matured in white oak barrels for not less than year. The dark golden/amber tequila has a wafting bouquet and a palate saturated with the flavors of caramel, cinnamon, allspice, anise, vanilla and toasted oak. Its long, flavorful finish makes it an ideal choice for sipping neat after a fine dinner.
"Aha Yeto Tequilas are handmade spirits crafted according to traditional practices," states tequila consultant Corky Graff. "They contain no added chemicals or artificial flavors, and although more expensive to produce, Aha Yeto Tequilas are reasonably priced to make them more accessible to consumers."