TequilaNeat - How to Care For Your Tequila

Because good tequila should be served "neat:"   No ice, no salt, no lime.

Agave fields at Olmeca distillery

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This is a subject that is often overlooked. Those bottles which have rubber stoppers or screw caps are pretty easy to care for. Cap them tightly enough so that the alcohol can't evaporate. The difficulty comes when you have a bottle with a cork.

I asked Dave Yan of Casa Noble how bottles with NATURAL corks should be cared for. Some brands use special treatments on their corks (Casa Noble uses a special paraffin coat on their superior-grade Portuguese cork stoppers since they switched back to glass bottles), so decay is prevented completely and won't go bad. But raw cork can have problems. If it gets crumbly, mildewed, has a musty smell like an old library, or is any color other than what cork should be, it's gone bad, and has become rotten. It may not seal the bottle properly, and worse, if the tequila touches it, it can contaminate the tequila. Yikes.

So, you get a new bottle. Open it, inspect the cork, make sure it's still good. Don't worry, tequila isn't like wine, in that it won't start going bad the second that air hits it. Even though it's been opened, it'll be good for years.
At the time of this writing, I have some bottles with natural corks that have been open (meaning, closed with the cork in, but not sealed, and opened every so often to pour some out) for over six years. While the tequila in them is not EXACTLY the same as when the bottles were first opened, they're pretty close, and only an experienced person could tell the difference.

Examine the cork, looking for the problems mentioned above. If it's bad, and you can return the bottle, do so. If you can't return it, maybe you can replace the cork with another, but make sure it seals all the way around. You could also transfer the tequila into another bottle with a good cork (so saving some empty bottles may not be a bad idea).
In a pinch I've used a wine cork to seal a tequila bottle, but that won't always work. The mouth of a tequila bottle is often bigger than that of a wine bottle.

Now, if the bottle's cork is good (as most will be), there is a way to care for it. You don't want it to dry out and get crumbly. Dave says that every other week he'll inspect and replace the cork, then tilt the bottle for a a couple of minutes. This will let the tequila moisten the cork, which keeps it flexible and working the way it's supposed to. Note though, that tequila should not be stored on its side. Keep the bottle standing up. But if a new bottle has a bad cork and the tequila is still good, the best thing to do is to replace the bad cork with a new one, providing you intend to drink the contents.

Temperature and humidity are of concern as well. Temperature should remain as constant as possible. Swings of hot and cold aren't good. Avoid leaving bottles in direct sunlight at all costs, don't store them near heater vents, and I even prefer to not have my tequila cabinet next to an outside-facing wall in the house. Humidity is only a problem when it is too high, and the temperature is too hot. That's a recipe for mildew.

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