Food & Drink

This Tequila Is Aged in Napa Chardonnay Barrels

A Truly Calexican Expression of Agave Arrives

By Hadley Tomicki ·
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The booze industry has barrel fever. Last week, secret plans were leaked from Diageo that found the company attempting to slacken Scotland’s long-held whisky edicts, setting the world on fire with outrageous ideas like aging scotch in tequila barrels. In no uncertain terms, the company has been told that’s never going to happen by the entire country of Scotland. Ouch.

Meanwhile in Mexico, no one seems to be tripping over enterprising distillers and winemakers aging their wares in whatever creative vessel they see fit. In fact, Patron has already made a splash with its Grand Patron Burdeos, an añejo aged in Bordeaux wine barrels. But now the experimenting is coming even closer to home.

Which brings us to Ayate, a Highlands tequila aged in California Chardonnay barrels, the passion project of Napa winemaker Dave Phinney and possibly the spirit world's most accurate personification of a middle-aged Monterrey woman who begins the drinking at 3pm. Sorry, Renata.

Like a majority of fine, aged tequilas, Ayate does a stint in American oak. Following that period of rest, it’s placed into Chardonnay barrels for a little extra aging. This additional aging in wine barrels is said to soften some of the spirit’s edges, rounding out the flavor with a small, buttery hit of diacetyl, and layered fresh grass, melon and light stone fruit, among other elements.

The tequila is available in reposado form, aged for four months in American oak and four months in Chardonnay barrels. As well as in an añejo that sees two months in American oak, four in French oak and a final six months in Phinney’s wine barrels.

You can find Ayate’s reposado for $65 and the añejo for $95 online.

Hadley Tomicki lives in Los Angeles. He is probably going nowhere on the 10 Freeway this very second.

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