The Baston del Rey Process

We humbly believe that Baston del Rey is the best tequila you’ll ever have. In large part, this is because no one else cooks their piñas the way that we do and it is why our tequilas have such a special flavor. Our process is entirely focused on purity, care, tradition, and the kind of passion that only comes when you have three generations of tequila in your bloodline.

Read on to learn how we make our tequila — or, more accurately, how tequila should be made.

Step One: The Agave

The agave fields of Jalisco, Mexico, are a national treasure, and the terrain in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit, Colima, and Aguascalientes are covered in the blue spikes of this enormous succulent. At Baston del Rey, we wait until the natural sweetness inside the Agave piña is perfect, and we inspect and hand-select the harvest that goes into our tequilas. This takes about 7 to 8 years. Most tequila makers harvest their agave after only 5 years in order to save money, but their piñas lack the natural sweetness of more mature plants and they need to add flavorings, refined sugar or chemicals to make their tequilas more drinkable. Although it costs more, we prefer to wait until the Blue Agave is perfect in flavor and natural sweetness.

Step Two: The Pit

Our ingredients set us apart from the average or low-grade tequilas, but our cooking process is what separates us from the rest. At our flagship distillery, we make tequila the way it’s been made for hundreds of years. Enormous pits are dug in the earth and lined with lava rock. We hand select the types of wood that are used to impart flavor to the piñas as they are cooking. A fire is lit at the bottom of the pit and is allowed to burn for a few hours until it is just right. Over this fire, we place another layer of lava rocks, and then the piñas are added to start roasting. Banana leaves are then added on top of the piñas, and then the whole thing is covered with a special mixture of earth and grasses. The piñas cook like this for three days while their carbohydrates and starches become fermentable sugars. Most distillers will cook their piñas in an enormous stainless steel vat to steam them over high heat. But just as when you overcook fresh vegetables at home by steaming them, the piñas lose some of their flavor and natural sweetness. Those distillers then have to use flavoring, chemicals, and sugar to make up for the loss of flavor. At Baston del Rey, we let the agave sugars slowly caramelize to intensify their flavor and bring out their natural sweetness.

Step Three: The Tahona

After the piñas have cooked, they are taken out of the roasting pit and loaded into what is called a Tahona—a large stone wheel that spins on an axis at the center of a stone trough. Though the piñas went into the pit with the texture of wood, they come out like a wet sponge, dripping with nectar. The wheel grinds these soft piñas into a pulp (also called ‘wort’). At our flagship distillery, the Tahona is still drawn by a mule or moved by hand, as it has been for over a hundred years. Once the juices have been drawn out, we recycle the fibers of the piñas. These fibers are tough, and can be used in building roads and embankments. This allows for the use of natural materials and reduces the cost and use of man-made materials that contribute to global warming.

Step Four: Fermentation

The agave juices are collected and allowed to naturally ferment for six to eight days in a carefully monitored environment. The natural agave sugars are self-fermenting, so no yeast or other ingredients are needed to start the fermentation process or speed it up.

Step Five: Distillation

When the fermentation process is at just the right point, the agave juices are carefully distilled. Baston del Rey uses stills made of stainless steel to remove the methanol and other unwanted elements of the alcohol. If tequila is only distilled once, there are still some impurities and other unwanted ingredients that can affect taste and healthfulness. Therefore, we double distill all of our tequila products to bring you the purest and most satisfying tequila.

Some products from the distillation process are dangerous for human consumption (called the “head” and the “tail”). Although some companies have asked us to sell the head and tail, we destroy it to make sure that it can never be used for human consumption. Fun fact: we use the less dangerous part of the “tail” to start the fires in the pits, making the process a kind of cradle-to-cradle production! This avoids imparting a “non-agave” flavor to the wood when the fires are started.

After the tequila is distilled a second time, it’s ready to go into the barrels.

Step Six: Barreling

This is a crucial part of the process because different kinds of barrels impart different flavors to the tequila. As the temperature rises throughout the day it draws tequila into the wood where it absorbs some of the flavors of the barrel. The tequila is then released again at night when it cools down and mixes with the rest of the tequila in the barrel. Thus, the more time spent in the barrel, the more the tequila takes on the flavor characteristics of the barrel.

Our Silver Tequila is not put into a barrel and with this tequila, you can taste what the spirit tastes like straight from the still. The Reposado goes into barrels made with Canadian Oak, a hard wood that “breathes” very little and imparts less flavor while making the tequila more smooth. This makes our Reposado very easy to drink while retaining a very agave-forward experience in the mouth. The Reposado tequila is aged for 6 to 12 months. The Platinum and Reposado tequilas are great on their own, but are perfect for mixed drinks and cocktails. They will make the best margaritas you have ever tasted.

Our Añejo goes into American Oak barrels, which are also used for bourbon or whiskey. The Añejo is aged for 18 to 24 months. It is incredibly smooth, with more notes of vanilla, caramel and butterscotch that comes from the barrel.

Finally, our Extra Añejo goes into a French Oak barrel for 3 to 3 ½ years. French Oak is the most breathable of the three woods and imparts the deepest color and complex flavor, like a cognac. The Baston del Rey Añejo and Extra Añejo should not be used in margaritas. They are incredibly smooth, full of flavor that lingers on the palate, and they should be sipped and savored on their own.