Introduction to Tequila

Mexico

The cultural elements that Mexico expresses are world renowned; the music (Mariachis), the food (Caesar salad), the art (Frida Kahlo, her husband Diego Rivera and his contemporary muralists), its beers (Corona), its revolution (Viva Zapata!) and of course, Tequila (along with its cocktail – the Margarita).

The History of the Agave

The agave plant’s uses can be dated as far back as 12,000 years ago where ancient Mesoamericans would use the fibres for construction material, clothing and tools. The sweet, milky juice from the agave – aguamiel – was fermented to make pulque. When the Spanish arrived, they brought with them the art of distillation. They took this art and applied it to the agave. This has evolved into what we know today as tequila.

WHAT IS TEQUILA?

There is no spirit like tequila. It represents all that Mexico does and more. There is a ‘sexiness’ that all alcohols have that tequila shows more of than others.

Tequila is made from the agave plant, of which there are numerous varieties across Mexico and the world. Only one variety, the agave tequilana Weber azul, is used to make tequila. This noble plant is a member of the lily family and grows for 7 to 10 years under the hot Mexican sun before being harvested.

It is agave that gives tequila its unique flavour and its unique effect on the nervous system. The effect of tequila on our sobriety is the result of all those hours of sun energy stored in the agave. Tequila is a product of the earth and when produced correctly is a natural, health promoting beverage when taken in moderation (just like red wine). Tequila is a synthesis of the pre-Columbian Mesoamerican culture and Spanish culture. The Spaniards, upon arrival of what is now Mexico, found that the natives had an alcoholic beverage called pulque, about the strength of beer. These conquistadors brought with them the art and knowledge of distillation which they applied to this native drink. The result was called “Vino de Mezcal” (mezcal being the original name give to the agave), the first expression of what has now become tequila.

It has been mainly within the last 20 or so years that tequila has been developing into an internationally appreciated spirit. There are a number of requisites that must be satisfied before tequila can be certified. The agave variety used may only be the blue Weber tequiliana sort. The growing of the agaves and production of the tequila may only be done in a demarcated region, similar to the case of cognac. It must be distilled at least 2 times, and it must be produced under the strict supervision of the CRT – the Tequila Regulatory Council.

 

THERE ARE 2 CATEGORIES OF TEQUILA

  • 1
    Tequila Tequila which is allowed to have 51% agave sugars and a maximum of 49% other sugars.
  • 2
    100% Blue Agave Tequila Tequila which is made exclusively from blue agave sugars.

THERE ARE 5 CLASSES OF TEQUILA

  • 1
    Blanco (also known as Plata or Silver): Tequila straight from the still. This can be aged for up to 60 days.
  • 2
    Gold (also known as Joven Abocado): Blanco tequila with an additive, usually caramel, which colours and adds favour to the tequila.
  • 3
    Reposado: Tequila that has been rested, or aged at least 2 months.
  • 4
    Añejo: Tequila that has been aged at least 12 months.
  • 5
    Extra Añejo: Tequila that has been aged for over 3 years.

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