March 4, 2010
So far we examined cultivation, harvesting, and the cooking process. All of this is just the beginning to what one-day will become tequila. Today I will write about the milling process. The purpose of milling is to extract the sugars that are in the agave fibers. Milling can be done using the traditional tahona (stone mill) or extracted by a mechanical mill.
If milled by the tahona this process becomes very labor intense. In some cases the cooked agaves are stone milled for about seven hours. The milled agave is then washed with pure water to separate the pulp from the woody fibers. As a result of this process an agave juice is obtained and contains about 12 % sugars that will be formulated for fermentation. This sweet agave juice is called mosto or must.
Mechanical milling has the same purpose, to extract the agave sugars. This process is more industrial and less time consuming. This type of milling is the most commonly used today. I will leave it up to you to decide if milling makes a difference. Compare A Fortaleza or Siete Leguas tequila, both milled by a tahona, to a Cuervo Traditional or a Sauza Hornitos that receive a mechanical milling process. Tell me which one you prefer.
Milling is only one production feature that makes tequila different. Where agaves are grown, types of ovens used, ageing, and fermenting are just a few features to look at when deciding on the tequila that is right for you. Join me next week to learn about fermentation.
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