PaQui Tequila Master Distiller

Tasting Tequila 101: How to Drink Tequila According to a Master Distiller

Founder John Chappell of PaQui

It’s time to diversify the way you drink tequila and go beyond the shots and margaritas. Most of us are used to drinking tequila in a way that covers up the harsh taste and “the burn” that comes with even the most well-known brands. That’s why the constant addition of salt, limes and oversweet mixers are used to make the experience tolerable. 

But when you drink tequila that’s taken all the right steps in farming, harvesting, and selective distillation, there’s no burn and no bite and instead, the wide spectrum of aromas that are hiding within the blue agave fruit come through so you’ll actually want to savor every sip you take. 

Here are tips from our Master Distiller, a renowned figure in the world of Tequila on how to drink tequila and enjoy every last drop.

1) Check sipping potential

Here’s a great trick to foretell what aromas and flavors are hiding in your tequila (and determine if you want to sip or not): pour a tiny little bit into the palm of your hand, lightly rub your two hands together, and cup your hands around your nose and see what notes you can pick up. And if you don’t like what you smell, this isn’t the tequila for you.

2) Get the right glass

It is surprisingly important to have proper glassware if you want to enhance your tequila tasting experience. A tequila snifter looks somewhat similar to a champagne glass but is shorter and smaller and the top section is narrower to keep the aromas inside. 

Riedel makes beautiful tequila glasses that are exquisitely designed for sipping, though there are other options, too. Once using the proper glassware, the flavor and aromas that you can smell and taste are at a whole different level.

3) Swirl and test for legs

Used commonly in wine tasting, you will want to do this for your tequila as well. Gently swirl your glass and look for the “legs”. Swirl the liquid in the glass and see how the tears of the liquid remaining on the sides of the glass behave. The longer it takes them to slide down the glass, the fuller the body of tequila. When the liquid is more robust and runs slowly, you have a top-notch tequila in taste and quality.

Bring the glass to your nose, tilt it to the side, and inhale the aromas there. What can you pick up? Are there hints of lemon, vanilla, oak, caramel or jasmine? When tilted to the side, you get the maximum amount of surface area to note the differences from bottom to top. As your drink settles, the heavier notes will often settle at the bottom while the lighter ones move to the top, so be sure to tilt your glass to get the full range of expression.

5) Taste

On your last inhale, breathe deeply and hold the aroma in for a few seconds. Then immediately take a sip. Swirl the liquid around your mouth for a second, then swallow and exhale. What flavor profiles could you detect? When you go to take your second taste, do so with a slow, deep breath in as it allows you to better taste the full range of flavors. 

And it’s as easy as that! Just use the right glass to observe, swirl, inhale and taste. Just like a fine wine, the best way to taste a range of tequilas is moving from light to dark (so Silvera to Reposado to Anejo). After you have tasted the tequila, we encourage you to sit there and savor the flavors. After all, it is the slowing down of time, and the act of taking the time to fully enjoy and appreciate the complexity of the spirit, that is the most important element of this sipping experience.


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