Drink Life Beverages

The Coolest Quarantine Project Ever? Making Tequila at Home

Update: This project continues! You can follow our progress in the “Lotecito Log“

While most of North America was in peak sourdough bread making, we decided to tackle a different

(Disclaimer: Anything we make at home cannot legally be called “tequila” because it is not made under

Although we’re using the same type of agave, producing within the denomination of origin, and following

One misstep along the way could ruin an entire batch, so we made sure to have several

(In a traditional production process you can get about 9 liters of 40% abv tequila out of a single 50

) Being optimistic, we aimed for 4 liters, using what would no doubt be a less efficient method

But, where to get the cooked agave? This is the one step we could not do ourselves

So we were off to the Fortaleza distillery in the town of Tequila to pinch an agave

The 6-year old agave came from Mexpan, Ixtlán del Río, which is located 80 kilometers from

On the way home to Tlaquepaque, the car, full of agave still hot to the touch, smelled

This is the most labor-intensive part of the process, which involves crushing the agave in order to

Instead, we used 2 wooden posts to smash the cooked agave in plastic cement mixing trays, and then

Our target sugar level was 12 brix, which is higher than most distilleries use

Our logic was that we had limited fermentation capacity, so we needed to make the most of

Packing more sugar and less water into the containers seemed to make logical space-saving sense at the

We managed to create 83 liters of mosto, and there was still plenty of sugar left on the

In addition to stainless steel tanks, we also fermented a portion in these glass carboys

“It’s probably the most important step in the process because that’s where many of the

We did a lot of advanced research on this and eventually came up with a plan

This yeast strain is known for its slow-and-low characteristics

Also, we didn’t want the fiber to take up too much space in our limited-capacity tanks

Some of our favorite tequilas ferment without fibers (Fortaleza, G4, Terralta, Don Fulano), so we weren’t

We pitched the yeast (dry) at 78˚ F, and then allowed it to ferment naturally, outside on our

However, after checking in with a few of our tequila friends, they were worried that the temperature

After that, the temperature remained at 90˚ F for the remainder of the fermentation

The yeast performed exactly as expected, and 7 days later we started distillation, even though we could see

The brix level dropped from 12 to 6, which means the yeast had already consumed half of the available

There was also a concern that we would allow the fermentation to go on too long

The risk of letting fermentation go too long is that it can start to smell like vinegar

It turned out that we were nowhere close to that point, but now we know!

Fermentation tanks on the left, and copper pot still and water cooling tank on the right

We bought a tiny 5 gallon copper pot still online, and used a propane gas heater to bring

The first question we faced: when to cut heads and tails? There is a certain art to

During the first distillation, we decided to start collecting at 37% abv, and to stop collecting when the

During the second distillation, we started collecting at 73% abv, and stopped collecting when the tank reached 47% abv (

This is a fascinating experience that every tequila lover should have

After it rested in glass bottles for 80 days, we added water and brought it down to 44

4% abv, which is the exact point where we felt it opened up to showcase its unique characteristics

Since we had been calling it our “Lotecito”, which means “tiny lot” in Spanish, we thought it

In other words, you won’t go blind drinking our agave moonshine

There was just too much sugar there and the yeast couldn’t get around to eating it

2) Keeping the temperature more consistent seems to be something our tequila-making friends feel is critical

We weren’t worried about it enough, so next time we will make sure that it doesn’

3) We should measure the alcohol level in the finished mosto in addition to the change in brix

4) We cut too many heads this time, and we shouldn’t be so worried

Next time we should collect the heads into smaller vessels and then mix them back in as

5) Deep clean the still between first and second distillations

We didn’t clean it thoroughly enough and some strange, thick, yellow stuff came out at the

The result was a drinkable product, so we achieved our quarantine mission

So, if you want to try it for yourself, any Tequila Matchmaker user can come to Guadalajara