To many the name Tequila brings with it feelings of fear and trepidation. It’s the bad boy of the drinks industry, it’s the one with the worm in it and it’s been the drink for many that have been responsible for “finishing” off a night in a less than graceful manner. Well if this is how you feel or what you think you are not alone, because Tequila is without a doubt the most misunderstood and wrongly consumed drink on the market, something which we know is not fair. So before we get into the details of Tequila lets disperse some of the myths about this hidden gem.
Tequila does not have a worm in it. This honour is given to Mezcal which is a close cousin of Tequila but is fundamentally different due to its method and source of production.
Tequila is not made from a cactus. In fact, Tequila is made only from the Webber Blue Agave plant, 1 of 136 different forms of Agave plant found in Mexico, which is actually a member of the Lily or Amaryllis family, otherwise called Maguey.
Anyone who understands spirits bit well will tell you that a quality Tequila can be and is every bit as good as a fine Cognac or Whisky, therefore it’s a product that should be savoured either neat in a snifter glass, with ice or in a quality cocktail.
In general Tequila is a type of Mescal but not the other way around. The word tequila itself is a big mystery. It was said to be an ancient Nahuatl term. The Nahuatl were the original people who lived in the area. The word means “the place of harvesting plants.”
Agave, the plant from which tequila is distilled, played a much bigger role than just being the source of an alcoholic drink we call it a Tequila. Agave leaves were used for a hemp-like fibre to make mats, clothing, rope and paper. It was also the source of the nutrient and vitamin-rich brew, pulque.
So Where’s Tequila From?
As most people know, Tequila is the native spirit of Mexico but what fewer people know is that like Cognac or Champagne, Tequila until recently was only legally allowed to be made in one specific area called Jalisco where the city of Tequila is found. Within the last 20 years however, this has changed and now other areas such as “Tamaulipas”
What are the caregofies of Tequila?
•Mixto: It is made from the mash of no less than 51% Blue Agave with sugarcane added during fermentation. This product can be shipped to other locations for bottling.
•100% Blue Agave: It is distilled from the fermented sugars of the Blue Agave plant which is steamed or roasted in brick ovens to extract the sap or honey water from the Pina part of the plant, creating a smoky character. This is then cooled and ground up and washed to remove the remaining sap before fermentation. The sugar levels are tested in order to determine if extra sugar is added which will determine if the product will be Mixto or 100% Blue Agave. Pot stills are usually used to make Blue Agave and by law the product must be distilled twice before ageing, followed by dilution to commercial standards using pure water.