Did you know the Tequila was North America’s first distilled beverage and also its first commercially produced alcohol?
The Aztec people had previously made a fermented beverage from the agave plant, which they called octli – later called pulque (long before the Spanish arrived in 1521). When the Spanish conquistadors ran out of their own brandy, they began to distill agave to produce one of North America’s first indigenous distilled spirits (1).
By Mexican law, Tequila can be produced only in specifically designated geographic areas, primarily the state of Jalisco (west-central Mexico), and must be produced only from Blue Agave. Similar Agave spirits are produced in other mexican regions and from other species of Agave. These other types of Agave are known locally as Maguey.
The mezcal for example, is an spirit made from Maguey outside of the Tequila region. As an analogy, Champagne is a sparkling wine but not all sparkling wines are Champagne. In order to be Champagne, the sparkling wine must be made from a specific grape within the appellation of origin in France.
Agave must mature for 6 or 7 years before its sugar contents peak, making it ripe for harvest for tequila. Tequila is made of only the sweet heart of the agave, called the piña. The piña is harvested by skilled workers called “jimadores.” Expertise in harvesting is passed down from father to son. The sharp, long-handled tool used by the jimador to harvest is called a “coa.” The bitter sprouts are removed by hand to reveal the sweet piña of the agave plant. Only the agave with the right balance of sugar and acid are selected.
There are two basic categories of tequila: mixtos and 100% agave. Mixtos use no less than 51% agave, with other sugars making up the remainder. Mixtos use both glucose and fructose sugars.
Tequila is bottled and sold in 5 different ways:
- Blanco or plata: white spirit, un-aged and bottled or stored immediately after distillation, or aged less than two months in stainless steel or neutral oak barrels.
- Joven or oro: usually a mixto (rarely 100% agave) with added coloring.
- Reposado: aged a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak barrels of any size.
- Añejo: aged a minimum of one year, but less than three years in small oak barrels.
- Extra Añejo: aged a minimum of three years in oak barrels.
As with other spirits that are aged in oaks barrel, tequila takes on the flavors of the wood, while the harshness of the alcohol mellows. The major flavor distinction with 100% agave tequila is the base ingredient, which is more vegetal than grain spirits (and often more complex).
At Excellence Resorts, we are very proud of our culture and we want to share with you a little bit of it through our Tequila Tastings. Ask to your hotel concierge for more info upon arrival!
Have a look to this funny 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Drinking More Tequila!
Warning: Try not to knock back a few shots immediately after reading this article because chances are the information will be lost forever!
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