Once the piñas are delivered to the distillery, the next step of blue agave's magical transformation into delectable tequila is all about the oven, where the prepared piñas are slowly roasted to perfection. During this process agave starches are transformed into delicious fermentable sugars and pinas become fibrous and soft, so they can easily release their juices.
Raw agave piñas are white and green, nearly as firm as a rock and have a caustic taste of a bitter herb. At this point, agave hearts have little flavor and, when sliced, resemble a jicama or a turnip. Cooked piñas acquire brown-orange color. They shred easily, taste like an exquisite syrupy candy and obtain this sweet, honeyed, earthy aroma that is so characteristic of baked agave. At this point, the starches have been transformed into delicious, fermentable sugars.
At our distillery, we bake agave piñas in traditional walk-in stone ovens called “hornos”, where agave hearts are slowly cooked by steam that is pumped through the oven. For optimal results, it is important to slow-bake the agaves for 36 hours at moderate heat, with continuously circulating steam softening the fibers and gently cooking the juices. Then the piñas are allowed to cool. This slow, unhurried method of “steaming” the agave hearts keeps the piñas soft and prevents the sugar from caramelizing, which can add bitter, burnt flavors to the juice. Baking in traditional stone ovens also helps to retain more of the natural flavors of roasted agave.
This handcrafted art becomes less and less common. Distilleries that abandon traditional methods for the sake of cutting costs use autoclaves instead of ovens, which pressure-cook the agaves at very high temperatures in mere 6 to 12 hours. Other producers "cheat" by pumping sulfuric gas in the oven to break down the agave fibers more quickly. These shortcuts reduce the quality of tequila and should be reserved for "mixtos".
The traditional art of tequila elaboration is based on the slow, unhurried process of cooking the pinas, which don't respond well to the modern shortcuts. High temperatures achieved in the autoclaves can cause a destruction of the flavoring compounds and wash the bitter waxes into the juice.
We slowly roast our pinas in the hornos for at least 36 hours and it takes almost the same amount of time to gently cool them off. This way, Arrogante acquires its authentic taste and rich, complex aroma. Arrogante Tequila