very berry nice Margarita
Norte Americanos, Margaritas of various
presentations and flavors or a tequila sunrise may be
all the experience of drinking tequila that they have.
These bar drinks are usually made from tequila that is less than
100% agave, called mixtos.
Blue Agave, agave tequilana weber azul
order to be labeled 'tequila' there are certain
requirements to be filled according to Mexican law. The
key distinguishing identity is that it be made from agave azul.
If the bottle label says 100% agave or 100% agave azul,
then it is 100% pure, and made only from this plant.
doesn't say 100% agave, then up to 49% of the alcohol
can be made from other sugars and still be called
tequila. These tequilas are considered to be mixtos.
In order to be sold as tequila, it must be made only
from this particular succulent (not other mezcals), approved by government inspectors to insure
purity, and be bottled in Mexico.
only that, but there are five designated
tequila-producing Mexican states:
alcoholic drink is made from a succulent other than the
agave azul, or if the plants are grown in areas
not specified as a tequila-making region it cannot
legally bear the
name tequila on the bottle.
and shops in designated Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico
are myths surrounding tequila which only adds to the
confusion. For instance, some believe bottles of tequila will
have a worm in it as part of the Mexican tradition.
is no worm in tequila, never has been and it is not a
Mexican custom to put one in. Some bottles of
mezcal will have a butterfly caterpillar called a
gusano placed in them, but generally not in the premium
succulent is not a cactus
Another myth is that tequila is made from cactus.
Tequila is made from distilled juices from the hearts of
a mature agave or maguey plant which is
related to the lily and amaryllis.
some people think that mezcal and tequila are the
same thing. While mezcal and tequila are both
derived from agave plants and have similarities, they
have very distinctive variances in their flavors and
production processes. Mezcal is commercially produced in
Oaxaca, and most
tequila is produced in or near
the state of
Different Mexican states, different weather and soil,
number one exporter of tequila
Contrary to another belief, all
tequilas are not the same and they vary according to the
company who makes them. The flavor of tequila depends on the process by which the agave sugars are
extracted, the soil and growing
environment of the agave plant, how old these plants are when they are
harvested, and whether or not the tequila itself has
been aged and for how long.
you know that there are five different types of tequila?
the number two producer of tequila
tequilas are distilled at least twice, and some are
distilled three times.
Blanco or Plata (white or silver) tequila is
stored less than 60 days in stainless steel tanks, is
not aged in wood, and tends to be more peppery or fiery
in flavor. Blancos and Platas have more
agave nose to them than other tequilas. Some aficionados
prefer blancos and platas to aged tequilas
precisely because of the fire in the flavor, the
unaltered taste of the agave and the perfume in the
Joven abocado is also a young tequila but has
coloring and flavoring ingredients such as caramel,
vanilla or almond added to them to make them looked
aged. They can also be called suave or oro
(gold) and in the tequila world, they are considered to
mentioned earlier, if
the bottle you are looking at is not labeled 100% agave,
it is a mixto. Up to 49% of the alcohol can be
made from other sugars such as cane sugar, which has less taste than the agave
Mixtos are used for Margaritas, tequila sunrises and other mixed
drinks. They are not generally sipped straight since their flavor
is not prized.
Tequila can be 'rested' for up to 1 year in wooden pipones
Reposado tequila has been rested from 2 months up to
1 year in wooden tanks or barrels. The longer the aging,
the darker the coloring and the more complex the flavor
becomes. This process has made a very popular product
and accounts for over 60% of tequila sales in Mexico.
flavor of a reposado has less bite and is more smooth.
straight, look for the 'legs' of the beverage on the
sides of the glass.
Imported white oak aging barrels
Anejo is vintage tequila aged from 1 to 3 years in
wood barrels. Sometimes the liquid can become very dark
and the distinguishable flavor of the wood makes its
presence known. To stop the aging process and the loss
of tequila through the evaporation from the barrels, tequila can be
moved to stainless steel tanks until bottling.
Prized imported cured white oak barrels from Tennessee,
USA - Jack Daniels was aged in this cask before it was
sold to Mexico. Notice the chalk-written date. Tequila
has been in this container since August 25,
Extra Anejo or Maduro tequilas are ultra aged
a minimum of 3 years in oak barrels that hold no more
than 600 litres. This allows the liquid to come in
contact with the wood for the desired flavor to be
produced. Older tequilas of 5 years are already for
sale on shelves today. Early 2006, a new category of tequila was
introduced that has been aged 10 years.
point is the pina
respect to flavor, it all begins with the pina. Age,
size, soil conditions, and in which methods the agave
sugars are extracted affect the flavor of the resulting
Alejandro, our personal guide from Cofradia, shows us the pinas baking in the ovens
olden days, pinas would be slow
roasted in brick or adobe ovens for 24 to 36 hours to
process the natural juices and soften the fibers. This
baking adds a smoky flavor to the tequila. The
consistent, slow cooking temperature of about 150*F keeps
the agave from caramelizing which would add a darker
color and bitter flavor.
Sure, I'll have
one. The sign reads: Discover the Enchantment
distillery decided to emphasize the unique
flavor of the agave plant itself.
Instead of baking their pinas, at this stage, Sauza shreds them and through
steam and hot water, juices and sugars from the heart of
are released. This non-roasting approach is considered a
high volume method of production and principally keeps
the flavor of the agave unaltered.
machine replaces the stone tahonas of centuries
the pinas have been roasted and the fibers
softened, the hearts are now crushed to separate the
fiber from the juices for fermentation. Some more
traditional distilleries keep a portion of the pulp in
with the juice during the fermentation period.
Stages of production
the juices from the heart of the agave have been
extracted, they are sprinkled with yeast and go into
stainless steel tanks to ferment.
processing the fermentable sugars
watched this living action going on in the large vats.
The yeast with their golden and brown bubbles were
moving in circles en masse. A strange and wondrous
serious and sanitized business!
Levels of sugars are monitored and the fermentation
takes from 7 to 12 days to complete. Longer fermentation
creates a heartier body.
tequila is clear after distillation.
the above glasses, the alcohol was far too strong to be
sold in bottles, so at this point in the making of
tequila, demineralized water
is added to obtain the desired alcohol content.
Depending on the sort of tequila being made, colors and
flavorings will be added (mixtos) or the liquid
will be rested (reposado) or aged (anejo).
bottles, many styles
Distilleries will make various styles of tequila because
- as with most things in life - there is not a one size
people prefer the aromatic floral nose of the blancos
and platas with its fiery flavor.
Reposados and anejos from various distilleries
Others prefer a fuller body or the softened flavor that
tequila aged in oak casks have and choose either
reposado or anejo.
museums have audio/visuals or interactive projects. How many museums in the world have
tasting rooms? What a concept! Tequila tasting in The
National Museum of Tequila
how do you know which you prefer?
above information will be helpful to you but nothing
replaces first hand experience. If you are fortunate to
be able to visit the town of Tequila yourself, tastings
are available at all the distilleries, museums and many
of the shops in town.
no, not like this!
Tasting room at Cofradia
this barrel table we had choices of plata, reposado,
anejo and extra anejo.
then he brought out the fine stuff! Casa
Noble, Tequila of the Decade
were quite fortunate to experience the flavor of Casa
Noble, a tequila that won awards in tastings held in San
Francisco, California. Due to its remarkable flavor and
body, it is considered to be the Tequila of the Decade
and runs 1,300 Pesos per bottle (over $100 USD).
Another look at Coradia's fine tasting room
Unique products made from the agave plant are available
for purchase as well at Cofradia. While we were tasting anejo
tequila we were also able to try this agave syrup.
With a consistency of honey it was simply delightful and
caballito with Gran Clase and Reposado
premium brand tequila
what is the best way to savor the flavor of this classic
ago, tequila was first drunk from a bull's horn. Wider
at the top drinking edge than at the narrow point of the
horn, the horn was shaved flat on the bottom edge so it
was able to sit on a flat surface without spilling its
Traditionally, tequila has been sipped from a tall,
narrow shot glass (like the one pictured above) called
a caballito or little horse perhaps made to
reflect those early days.
Mexican bars, reposados and anejos are
served in brandy snifters to better appreciate the
bouquet and the legs it forms on the sides of the glass.
Premium brands from a premium distillery
demonstrate how the image of drinking tequila has changed, in 2002, The
Tequila Regulatory Council chose a new glass to better
express the nose and body of premium tequilas. It is
much like a wine tasting glass.
Tequila is best savored at room temperature, straight
a neat sip to clear the palate and breathe out. You will
experience the modified heat and smokiness of the
tequila. Then take another sip and roll it around your
mouth and notice the full body. If you have a snifter,
roll the liquid around the glass and appreciate the legs
on the side of the glass, and the bouquet in the bowl.
Rafael from El Llano distillery pours us a sample of a prized reposado
Premium tequilas are best appreciated slowly, softly and
variety of sizes, colors, and ages, smooth or with bite
and labeled, these bottles are from previous
keep flavors consistent from one distillation to
another, bottles of previous favored distillations are
kept as a reference library.
What a tasting room
at El Llano!
sipping tequila straight up still does not appeal to
you, find the original Margarita recipe, use key limes
and 100% agave tequila. You will certainly note the
Mexico, it is very common to have one's own barrel.
These are made in popular 1 liter, 2 liter, and 5 liter
sizes. Because reposados and anejos can be expensive
Mexicans will purchase a simple blanco, and age it in a
a wonderful present to someone you care about!
Centenario or Arrete?
hope our story about Mexico's national drink has
enlightened you on the fine points of tequila. Perhaps
you will be able to visit the
town someday, and now
you certainly know something about the
tradition. So the next
time you have an opportunity to try a classic tequila,
we hope your experience will be enhanced.
fine town of Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico
Billyís first career was
as a French chef. Visiting Europe in 1979, we had a
personal introduction to the cognac region and toured
the Segonzac vineyards and distillery. During the years
we owned and operated our restaurant in
Santa Cruz, California,
part of our job was to visit the famous Napa Valley
vineyards. There we
toured the wineries and purchased fine selections for
our wine list, the most extensive in our city.
retirement in 1991, our world travels have
afforded us the opportunity to meet owners of breweries
and distilleries around the world, such as
Speights Beer brewery
in Dunedin, New Zealand and the
Roaring Forties Distillery
In each of these enterprises, we have been moved by the
boldness, dedication, perseverance and pride that the
owners have to attain business success.
The making of tequila in Mexico is no exception. Coupled
with the generosity and hospitality of the Mexican
people, traveling to Tequila, Jalisco to visit the agave
fields and view the making of tequila first hand is a
worthwhile trip. We have learned that the unique tastes,
characteristics and quality of this beverage puts
tequila on par with the finest cognacs we have tasted.
you want to learn more about the city of Tequila, Jalisco,
you want to know more about the tradition of tequila
more stories about places of interest in Mexico,