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This Texas Distillery Is the Latest to Drop an Agave Spirit—Just Don’t Call It Tequila

Texas distillery Maverick Distilling just announced its latest release, an agave spirit made in the Lone Star State. While this new spirit is very similar to tequila, it cannot legally called that—instead this expression falls into the relatively new American category of “agave spirits.”

The TTB, the organization charged with regulating alcohol in the U.S., designated the agave spirits category in 2020. While tequila and mezcal are legally recognized as distinctive products of Mexico, the agave spirits class refers to any spirit made from a mashbill of at least 51 percent agave and bottled at a minimum of 80 proof. The remaining 49 percent can be fermented sugars (essentially a mixto), the spirit can be barrel aged, and flavoring and coloring are both allowed to be added.

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Maverick Distilling, which claims to be the first American distillery to be approved for the agave spirits category, has been making them since 2020. The latest release is called Samuel Maverick Tricentennial Edition Agave Reposado, a limited-edition agave spirit that was released to coincide with Texas Independence Day on March 2. It’s made from 100 percent blue agave nectar that is fermented and distilled in both column and pot stills. It was then aged in barrels previously used to mature Maverick Whiskey for a total of two years and two months. That would be considered an anejo expression in the world of tequila (aged between one and three years), but Maverick has labeled this a reposado. We did not get to sample this release, but official tasting notes describe apple blossom, peach, prickly pear, caramel, nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove on the palate.

The American agave spirits category is still small but continues to slowly expand, especially in California and the Southwest. St. George Spirits, located in the Bay Area, has been experimenting with something it calls Mezcalifornia for several years now. Other Golden State distilleries making agave spirits include Shelter Distilling and Drift Distillery. In Texas, you can find Blasfemus from Ancestral Crafts Spirits and an agave spirit from Bendt Distilling Co. And 3 Rivers Brewery distills Tierra Del Encanto, a New Mexican agave spirit. These are all tiny compared to the juggernaut that tequila has become, but who knows what the future holds (and whether any celebrities will jump into this category).

Samuel Maverick Tricentennial Edition Agave Reposado is a very small release, with a run of just 185 bottles that are available at the San Antonio distillery for $75. If you’re interested in trying some of the other spirits from Maverick, the bourbon is available to purchase from websites like Total Wine.

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