Tequila is produced, bottled, and inspected in only specific regions of Mexico, such as Jalisco, Nayarit, Guanajuato, Michoacan, and Tamaulipas, but that has only served to increase its popularity. Tequila shots and margaritas (tequila being the essential ingredient) are the most coveted beverages; there are several cocktail recipes, in which it can be mixed.
How is it made?
Tequila is made by distilling the fermented juices of the Weber blue agave plant. The large bulbous part of the plant (after removing leaves) is slowly baked in steam or brick ovens until the starches are converted to sugars. The baked agave is crushed to extract sweet juice, which is then fermented with yeast to convert the sugar into alcohol. All tequilas have to contain at least 51% Weber blue agave, but the best ones have 100%. When tequila isn’t marked as “Tequila 100% de Agave”, it means there are different agave varieties or other ingredients have been mixed into it.
How is it distilled?
Tequila is distilled in pot or column stills till it reaches around 110 proof. The distillate is cut with water before bottling – this is done to obtain bottling strength. Tequilas are generally 76 to 80 proof or 38% to 40% alcohol by volume.
Types of tequila
This is a clear spirit and rested no more than 60 days in stainless steel tanks. It is also known as silver or white tequila.
Joven or young tequilas (oro or gold) are often unaged beverages. They aren’t 100% agave, but are a mix of other ingredients. They can be colored and flavored with caramel, oak extract, glycerin, syrup, and other additives.
These tequilas are aged in wood casks for at least two months, while many are aged for three to nine months. The barrels mellow the flavors of a blanco and impart a soft oak flavor while giving the tequila a light straw color. Sometimes, they are aged in bourbon barrels, which add another layer to the finished taste.
This type of tequila is often aged in French oak or used bourbon barrels for a minimum of one year, to generate a dark and extremely robust spirit. Most añejos are aged between 18 months and three years. They taste smooth with a delicate balance of agave and oak flavors, enhanced by butterscotch and caramel undertones. If tequilas are aged over three years, then they are referred to as extra añejo.
What does it taste like?
The taste of tequila depends on where the agave was grown, along with the type of tequila. Blanco tequilas have an earthy, semi-sweet flavor, while those made in the lowlands is fruitier and earthier and tequila from the highlands is greener and brighter. When it is aged in a barrel, it begins to exhibit oaky flavors.
The best way to drink tequila is as a shot – either straight, with a lemon and salt or with mixers. You can try cocktails like shaken martini-like drinks, juice highballs, or refreshing soda. Pick up your bottle now!