The nonsense of drinking COLD tequila

Jan 8, 2002

The Bottom Line Temperature affects the chemical elements on all beverages, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. Tequila is NOT meant to be drank CHILLED, find out why.

Lets put an end to this stupidity for once and for all. Tequila will NEVER be a drink that benefits from chilling, even though many people swear by their mothers THIS is the way to enjoy straight tequila. But let´s start with the proper background of information.

Most certanly, the biggest culprit for this abomination comes from Cuervo´s advertising campaign for the re-launch (better said: re-positioning) of their badly damaged Cuervo Tradicional brand, which had aquired a worse reputation than Robert Downey Jr. Along with several major modifications to quality and flavor (most of them for the GOOD), had to come an equally major facelift in the form of advertising. Suddenly, it became "cool" to have your Cuervo Tequila shots chilled. Several other cheapo brands joined the trend (for obvious "strategic" reasons...), and soon, an ever increasing legion of young people were ordering their tequila bottles chilled.

First, lets be clear about one thing: temperature DOES affect taste. In most cases, a difference of just 10 degrees is enough to alter the feel and taste of a beverage dramatically (as with wine, soft drinks, milk. sweet liqueurs, just to name a few contundent examples). In the case of distilled spirits, the colder the temperature, the more you will "kill" the feel of the drink.

Please note that I am clearly stating that, when I refer to the FEEL of a drink, Im combining several elements: texture, attack, flavor, aroma, and body. I will spare you a long and tedious technical explanation, and put YOU to try this simple but enlightening experiment.

- Make shure you are in a place where room temperature is between 75 and 85 °F (our "comfort zone").

- Get some carbonated soft drinks (Coke, Dr. Pepper, Ginger Ale, Orange), TEQUILA, red AND white wine, beer, vodka, cognac, whiskey and Port wine.

- on EACH specimen you have collected, separate 3 rations of about 2 FL.Oz each into 3 different glasses (please....use GLASS containers, not plastic)

- Leave one ration at room temperature. Put another one to CHILL in the freezer (10 minutes will do in most cases, just make shure anything freezes). The 3rd and last ration put ICE on it.

- Now, begin your sampling. Use your olfatory and tasting senses thoroughly. Feel the textures, the flavors, the attack (the way it "stings" the tongue and retronasal passages), the body, ONE SPECIMEN AT A TIME. Specific order is not important, but careful attention to your senses is MANDATORY.


How can you explain the fact that the same beverage tastes so differently under 3 different temperatures? See how carbonated drinks sting a lot at warm temperatures, but taste great chilled or smooth down with ice? Noticed how a warm temperature hurts the taste of white wine, but helps the red? Why ice makes Port wine almost undrinkable, but in the other hand, adds a pleasant sensation to whiskey?

The most dramatic cases for making my point come when comparing Vodka and Tequila. When both are chilled (cannot freeze on your house´s fridge because of the high alcoholic content), the texture becomes softer, creamier, while the attack is very mild. And its FLAVOR becomes quite muffled.

Both spirits behave quite different at room temperature, dont they? The sting is heavier, the aroma is stronger, the bite turns sharper, and flavors EXPLODE in your mouth and retronasal passage. You were able to pick MORE elements at room temperature.

Now you got it. TEQUILA brands that trick you into drinking their product CHILLED, know the effects of such condition. Kills aggresive elements, distorts and diminishes flavor, "softens" the bite...nice trick, huh?

Only tequilas that are AFRAID to show their true flavor structure could promote such an idiotic practice. Im shure that maybe I have offended someone out there, but please, remember that each spirit has its own "ideal" drinking temperature, and this ideal condition is that which allows YOU to fully appreciate its characteristics, savor its goodness, and enjoy its uniqueness.

Have fun in your own quest for real enjoyment. Share your newfound knowledge, and drink to enjoy, not to get wasted.

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