Tequila is an odd duck when it comes to aging. It’s one of the only spirits categories that has this strange reposado definition, in which the spirit is aged between just 2 to 12 months. Just enough time to pick up a hint of color, but not nearly enough time to give it the really strong aging notes that you see in a bourbon. There’s a reason for that stylistic choice, and we’ll have to see if The Rock’s Teremana Tequila is smart enough to pull it off properly.
This is indeed a product partially owned by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but that’s not where our story starts.
Jenna Fagnan was born in Alaska, but moved to San Antonio, Texas to study business, chemistry, and Japanese, supporting herself by working in local Mexican restaurants. According to Fagnan, this is where she picked up her love for real Mexican tequila, which unfortunately wasn’t super common in the rest of the United States. Most people were drinking a “mixto” tequila, which is cheaper to produce but has with added sugars that often leave people with a hangover the next day. Fagnan wanted to help share real Mexican 100% agave tequila with the rest of the world.
After graduation, Fagnan worked for LVMH where she worked to rescue the then foundering Dom Perignon brand. Thanks to her success there, LVMH moved her to TAG Heuer, but her heart was always in the spirits industry.
In 2010, she left her position to work with Ken Austin and founded Tequila Avión. Austin was an accountant by trade, but spent some time working for the Gallo winery and the Seagram spirits company before moving into private aviation and starting his own business. The two had a shared passion for tequila, and using Austin’s love of aviation the Tequila Avión brand was born. The brand would eventually be sold to the French spirits giant Pernod Ricard, leaving the pair looking for their next adventure.
This is where Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson comes into the picture. As Fagnan and Austin were looking for their next business venture, they were contacted by Johnson’s manager. Johnson had a passion for tequila and had always wanted to launch his own brand, and after a few conversations the trio decided to go into business together. The three went through a process to better understand Johnson’s passions and tastes, going through over 113 distillation runs tweaking different components of the process until they finally landed on one they really liked, and working with suppliers to ensure that they were making this new spirit in a sustainable way.
The brand name is a combination of the Latin root for “earth” with the Polynesian word for “spirit”, loosely translating as “Spirit of the Earth.”
- Learn More: What Is Tequila?
This tequila starts with a crop of 100% blue agave plants that are harvested by hand and trimmed, leaving behind only the hard core or pina. Those plants are then placed into a brick oven for three days to roast, a process that converts components in the plant’s core into fermentable sugar before the cores are shredded to extract that sugary liquid.
Once extracted, the sugary liquid is fermented in open tanks, allowing not only the intended yeast to act on it but also ambient yeast to provide some unique flavors as the sugar is converted into alcohol. That alcoholic liquid is then distilled in handmade copper pot stills until it reaches the appropriate level of distillation.
For this reposado expression, the spirit is rested in previously used American bourbon barrels for a period of between 2 and 12 months. No sugar is added either, which should help keep the hangovers away — just water to proof it down to bottling strength.
Overall, the shape of this bottle isn’t anything to write home about. It’s the same design we’ve seen from countless other distilleries, the only difference being that the Teremana name is embossed into the glass of the bottle itself (an indication that, despite the common shape, they spent some money to get custom molds, which is a pretty solid flex). There’s nothing wrong with the shape though — it’s a good size that will fit in the well of any bar, and there’s a good length neck that should make pouring very easy.
For the label, I feel like it’s just a touch big for my taste. I like the overall look and feel — the washed out and relaxed colors, the hint of an agave field as pretty much the only artwork… even the fonts they chose seem very chill. It’s got all the information you need to see right there on the label, but I feel like there’s just a hair too much white space on it. I can still see the color of the spirit inside, though, which is what I really like to see on these kinds of bottles.
I’m calling it a win, especially for the market it’s trying to compete in. I have some notes, but generally it’s a solid design.
As you’d expect, there’s just a hint of color here — something like a pale gold, not really well saturated. Just enough of a shade to let you know some aging happened.
The changes are more than skin deep, though. The aromas coming off the glass have changed as well, with this delicious vanilla, caramel, brown sugar note really taking center stage in the performance. Give it a second and the other players make themselves known as well — the herbal agave being a particularly strong member of the supporting cast, along with some black pepper and lemon citrus.
The second you take a sip, you know they understood the purpose behind a reposado aging and hit the nail on the head. There’s just enough brown sugar and vanilla in here to add some depth and character to the herbal agave, black pepper, and citrus, but without washing out the rest of the flavors. It’s more of an even balance than we saw with the aromas, with everyone playing nicely together.
Best of all: the bitterness I saw when tasting the blanco version is completely gone. A short nap in a barrel was enough to make that disappear and leave behind a much smoother spirit.
Ice has a tendency to mellow some of the aspects out, and usually the ones in the crosshairs are the notes specifically from the aging process. That seems to be the case at least for the aroma here, where the brown sugar and vanilla notes from the barrel aging seem to have been stripped out of the mixture leaving behind mostly the agave herbal aspects.
That pretty much carries over into the flavor as well. The brown sugar and vanilla components seem to have gone for a walk, leaving behind mostly the herbal agave, a bit of citrus, and a hint of black pepper. If you really strain, you can probably see some of the brown sugar hanging out way in the background, but that’s about as much as you’re going to get.
It’s back to being a blanco, basically.
I did say that the barrel aging stuff dropped out of the running with the ice, but I actually think that it’s making a minor comeback in this cocktail.
Usually, a margarita is an overly bitter or overly sweet cocktail — just unbalanced enough to be entertaining. But in this case, there’s just enough sweetness coming through from the tequila which, along with the herbal agave notes, results in a better balance than usual. It’s an improvement on the blanco (and compared to most tequilas) in my opinion.
Honestly, I’m pretty impressed. This hits the nail on the head for what a reposado tequila should be doing: adding just a hint of barrel aging to mellow out the spirit and resulting in some unique and delicious notes that make sipping a glass of this neat a really enjoyable experience. And it pulls all of that off at a downright affordable price point to boot.
If you’re going for a “Swiss Army Knife” of tequila, this would be a good choice.
Produced By: TeremanaProduction Location: Jalisco, Mexico
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $31.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 4/5
A rock solid reposado tequila, with smooth flavors and just a hint of barrel aging notes.
Absolutely love this tequila.
Very disappointing. Bought this based off the review. Definitely NOT a sipping tequila. Smells and tastes very similar, or should I say, too similar to Jose. Tough to even mix it.