Whether you prefer tequila neat, in a Margarita, or on a beach, it’s a spirit that’s enjoyed in many situations.
Tequila is an alcoholic beverage made from blue agave, in the Mexican state of Jalisco and the city of Tequila, located 65 km north of Guadalajara. It’s also a type of Mezcal. The big difference between the two is the agave plants the distilleries use. Tequila must only use blue agave, while mezcal can, in theory, be made of any type of the plant.
The red volcanic soils of tequila producing Mexico regions are excellent for growing blue agave, with over 300 million plants harvested annually. However, not all blue agave plants are the same. In fact, a lot of features will depend on the region where they’ve been grown. For instance, blue agave grown in the lowlands of Los Altos tend to have a more herbaceous flavour, while those harvested in highlands are generally sweeter in aroma and taste.
Tequila is a Mexican spirit and the country’s been recognized as the sole producer of the liquor in over 40 countries around the globe. The local laws state that tequila can only be made in the state of Jalisco and a number of municipalities in Tamaulipas, Nayarit, Michoacan and Guanajuato states. If produced outside of these regions, the spirit can’t be called tequila.
Despite immense progress in the development of modern farm machinery, which has impacted every nation across the world, planting, tending and harvesting of agave plants still remains a manual effort, relying mostly on the knowledge that’s been passed on from father to son for centuries.
One has to trim regularly to prevent agave from dying before ripening, be able to tell when the plant is ready to be harvested, cut away the leaves and so on. A failure to recognize when the plant is ready, which will result in harvesting it too early or too late, means that the agave will not have the correct amount of carbohydrates for fermentation.
Tequila is a delightful spirit that comes in an abundance of colours, from clear to dark brown. It varies based on the ageing process and the wood used to store the alcoholic beverage. Blanco tequila is clear and usually hasn’t been aged, or aged for a very short time. It’s considered the purest form of tequila, without any additives and secondary flavours. Gold tequila may have some caramel colour and grain alcohol added to it. Higher-end gold tequila, such as Anejo and Extra Anejo, usually is an aged blend of blanco and reposado, without any additives undermining its purity.
The two fundamental categories of tequila are 100% agave and mixtos. Mixtos must be made of at least 51% agave, with the rest being sweetener and flavour additives. Unlike 100% blue agave tequila, mixtos can actually be produced outside of Mexico.
There are four categories of 100% blue agave tequila, which are:
Blanco or Plata: white liquor, non-aged or aged for no more than two months in neutral oak barrels. Reposado: aged for at least two months, but less than a year in neutral oak barrels. Anejo: aged for at least a year, but no more than three years in small oak barrels. Extra Anejo: aged for at least three years. This category was added in March of 2006.
If you’d like to try the spirit, buy tequila in our liquor store in Calgary, Alberta, Canada or shop online at ZYN.ca!