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The Ultimate Tequila Guide: Everything You Need to Know!

The Ultimate Tequila Guide: Everything You Need to Know!

Contents

WELCOME TO TEQUILA 

We’re going to go forward and guess that you simply’ve had some fairly insane tequila nights in your consuming profession, which both nonetheless make you smile years later, or offer you some horrendous PTSD (Submit Tequila Photographs Disorder). Either means, the agave-based liquor stands out among all the other booze varieties as an especially party-friendly liquid shortcut to making some very entertaining — and yeah, questionable — selections. But how much do you actually find out about tequila? Have you ever taken a few minutes to sit down, and really get to know the booze that’s answerable for all these things you possibly can never inform your mom?

Properly people, here’s your probability to get good and intimate with tequila. In the following Ultimate Tequila 101, we go over completely every part you need to find out about tequila. We’ll cowl the history of tequila, how tequila is made, the several types of tequilas (together with blanco, joven, reposado, añejo, and additional añejo), how tequila is regulated by way of the Normas Oficiales Mexicanas (NOM), and the way to drink tequila like a true vaquero. By the time you’re by means of with this tequila guide, you gained’t solely know just about every part you’ll ever want to about tequila, you’ll be properly in your method to turning into a jimador — also, you’ll study what a jimador is. So let’s get to it!

WHAT IS TEQUILA?

Tequila is a liquor comprised of blue agave (alternatively Agave tequilana, agave azul, or the Agave Weber) crops — that are extra intently related to lilies than cacti! — situated within the state of Jalisco and a few of its neighboring regions in Mexico. Tequila is technically a Mezcal (which is distilled alcohol comprised of all agave crops, not simply the blue agave), and as of 1978, thanks to an official declaration by the Mexican government, if it’s made anyplace else on the planet, it ain’t genuine tequila.

When it comes to turning the blue agave plant into tequila, that’s a matter of taking the plant’s sugars and adding yeast so that the yeast eats up the sugar and turns it into ethanol, which is what makes you do all those tequila-y issues that you’ve footage of on your telephone, but they’re within the deleted bin in order that they gained’t come up when you show someone an image of your cat.

However general tequila, in contrast to brain-punchingly difficult whiskey, is fairly easy. Plant the blue agave crops, harvest them, reduce them up, bake them, soak them in heat water to extract their sugars, take the sugar-saturated water, let yeast munch on it to make ethanol and a few different byproducts, then distill the ethanol and, in some however not all situations, barrel age it.

There are clearly much more details to cover, including the variations between tequilas made in the lowlands and the highlands, 100% blue agave tequila vs. mixto tequila, and what makes all of the several types of tequila distinctive. However chill, individuals, ’cause we’re going to cowl all that: This isn’t a shot of data you do with lime and salt, you gotta sip all this tequila 101 in good and sluggish. (Although we’re, in fact, all the time down for photographs.)

A BRIEF TEQUILA HISTORY 

Now that we’ve an understanding of what tequila is, let’s take a quick take a look at the history of tequila, and the way it bloomed from a creamy low ABV beer that historic peoples regarded as a goddess’s blood into what we now use for naughty body photographs. Clearly this little little bit of history only scratches the floor of the tequila story, nevertheless it’s enough info so to impress any person at the bar.

FIRST UP: THE MYTH OF HOW AGAVE-DERIVED BOOZE WAS MADE (‘CAUSE IT’S EPIC): 

The fantasy of how tequila was made, which was generated by the Aztecs, is outline under (shout out to The Spruce for succinctly telling the tale):

When Earth was made, an evil goddess named Tzintzimitl was within the sky and she or he was doing all types of loopy sh*t like devouring mild and spreading darkness, and other people had to make sacrifices to regain a few of the lost mild.

Sooner or later, Quetzalcoatl, the “Feathered Serpent” deity, was like: “enough of that noise, woman,” and he popped up into the sky to struggle the goddess. But as an alternative he discovered Tzintzimitl’s granddaughter, Mayahuel, the goddess of fertility who had 400 boobies. Quetzalcoatl was understandably sidetracked by Mayahuel and he was like, overlook Tzintzimitl, I’m on this fertility goddess recreation now. They went again to earth to reside together, however Tzintzimitl chased them around, in order that they have been pressured to run and conceal from her. But after an excess of operating and hiding, they determined to just chill and switch themselves into timber.

Tzintzimitl did ultimately discover them though, and once she did, she killed Mayahuel. After burying Mayahuel, Quetzalcoatl was pissed, so he went up into the sky and slayed Tzintzimitl, which brought about all the sunshine to return to earth.

But as a result of Quetzalcoatl was nonetheless crazy sad, crying every night time at Mayahuel’s grave, the opposite gods decided to do something for him: On Mayahuel’s gravesite, a plant began to grow. A plant with particular hallucinogenic properties that might help to ease Quetzalcoatl’s pain each time he needed a bit peace. That plant was, in fact, the agave plant.

And now we regular mortal individuals use that peace juice constructed from the agave plant for peace too. Or you realize, loopy partying.

1,000-300 BCE: PULQUE MADE FOR THE FIRST TIME

Tequila has its roots in a drink generally known as pulque (typically referred to “agave wine”), which is assumed to have been originally made more than 2,000 years ago. Principally pulque is probably the most primary, lowest ABV alcoholic beverage you can also make from an agave plant, but even at 4-8% ABV, it was thought-about to be pretty dang magical by historic peoples.

South American peoples consuming pulque. Picture: Flickr / Rory Finneren

16TH CENTURY AD: MEZCAL MADE FOR THE FIRST TIME 

Though pulque was made constantly throughout the centuries between the time of the Olmec civilization and the Aztec civilization — which arose around the 14th century — it wasn’t till the 16th century that the agave plant was not only fermented, but in addition distilled; an evolution catalyzed by invading Spanish conquistadors, in all probability around 1521.

As the (hotly debated) story goes, the conquistadors beloved getting tipsy on their very own brandy brought over from Spain, however as soon as they ran out of it, they appeared to distilling pulque beer into a better ABV beverage. That new, distilled beverage was dubbed mezcal, which comes from the Nahuatl word mexcalli, and literally interprets to “oven-cooked agave.”

A bottle of unflavored pulque beer. Picture: Wikimedia / AlejandroLinaresGarcia

A key level to notice with this primary distillation of agave-derived alcohol nevertheless — why it was actually solely mezcal and never tequila created at this point — is how exactly the agave piñas have been “oven cooked.” (Piña being the identify for the guts of the agave plant after its leaves have been sheered off, because it seems like a pineapple.) In the 16th century, and up till at the moment, in truth, mezcals (a minimum of most of them, there are exceptions) have been and are cooked utilizing underground, earthen pits.

Conquistadors with natives. Image: Wikimedia / Pedro Lira

Piñas used for tequila, however, are cooked using various methods, with autoclaves, hornos, and so forth. So despite the fact that agave crops have been being harvested, baked, fermented, and distilled throughout this period, tequila was not technically being made due to the fact that the piñas have been being baked in earthen pits relatively than industrial ovens. Also, the distilled agave liquor being made by conquistadors as this point have been in all probability (read: undoubtedly) not all produced from the blue agave.

18TH CENTURY: TEQUILA AS WE KNOW IT EMERGES AS A DISTINCT SPIRIT 

As far as when exactly tequila emerged as a definite spirit, that is where issues get real tough. The drawback, it seems, is that the majority online sources have hassle deciding when tequila emerged as its personal sort of distilled spirit because it’s not only technically a mezcal, but in addition as a result of what separates it from other mezcals that aren’t tequila is finally — going to converse some blasphemy proper here — somewhat trivial.

Due to this blurry line between mezcal and tequila, it’s arduous to say precisely when tequila — made solely from the blue agave plant, oven cooked in correct above-ground ovens, and made in the state of Jalisco and a few surrounding municipalities — turned a thing. For instance, Wikipedia says that “Tequila was first produced in the 16th century near the location of the city of Tequila, which was not officially established until 1666.” But the supply it references for this claim itself notes that “Tequila’s history should be dated from the late 19th century when [above-ground, steam-heated] ovens came into use.”

So it appears that evidently totally different sources are going to offer you totally different origin dates for tequila. As for this guide, we’ll go together with tequila being established by the Cuervo family in the second half of the 18th century, as there seems to be an honest consensus that this was no less than the first time that real tequila was being mass produced.

Portrait of Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo. Image: Jose Cuervo

With that in thoughts, we’re taking a look at 1795 as the yr of the delivery of tequila, as that’s when Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo (a colonist from Spain) and his family produced the primary Vino Mezcal de Tequila de Jose Cuervo, a.okay.a. tequila. It was also around this time that Don Cuervo’s son, Jose María Guadalupe de Cuervo, was granted a allow from King Carlos IV of Spain to make tequila commercially. And hey presto, the tequila business was born.

19TH & 20TH CENTURIES: TEQUILA COMES TO THE U.S., BECOMES AN OFFICIAL MEXICAN SPIRIT 

After tequila turned huge enterprise in Mexico, there were principally two extra massive milestones in its history that any armchair tequila professional ought to find out about: when tequila began coming to the U.S., and when Mexico decided that it wasn’t cool for anyone else on Earth to make it.

With regard to exporting tequila to the U.S., People can take pleasure in this candy spirit thanks to a person by the identify of Don Cenobio Sauza. Sauza founded the Sauza at La Perseverancia distillery in 1873, and he was the first distiller to truly refer to the distilled spirit comprised of the blue agave plant as “tequila,” and export the stuff to the U.S. (You’re in all probability still acquainted with Sauza, as it’s one of the big tequila producers — though it’s owned by Beam Suntory.)

Don Cenobio Sauza Image: Casa Sauza 

All through the early 20th centuries, tequila exports to the U.S. began to growth, at first because of Prohibition — American-made booze was clearly arduous to come by, until you had a prescription for whiskey or something like that — and then afterward during WWII, when alcohol imports from European nations have been tremendously diminished.

Then, in 1978, the Mexican government declared that the phrase “tequila” was the only intellectual property of Mexico, making it illegal for another nations to promote a product by the identical identify. So, by the second half of the 20th century, tequila had develop into a distinct spirit that would only be produced in Mexico.

Quick forward to now, and you’re taking a look at an business that’s anticipated to be value about $9 billion by 2019. Which is a great distance to come from historic civilization god-blood juice, and in addition a helluva numerous photographs.

MEZCAL VS. TEQUILA (‘CAUSE IT’S GOING TO COME UP)  

When it comes to mezcal vs. tequila, what you’ll hear again and again is that this: All tequilas are mezcals, however not all mezcals are tequilas. Which is technically true as a result of mezcal is any “distilled alcoholic beverage made from any type of agave plant native to Mexico,” and tequila is most undoubtedly a distilled alcoholic beverage made out of an agave plant in Mexico. So earlier than we clarify the difference between the 2, needless to say tequila is a kind of mezcal.

1. Mezcal and tequila are produced in several states in Mexico. Tequila is especially produced in Jalisco, whereas mezcal is especially produced in Oaxaca. Remember, nevertheless, that each spirits are additionally produced in (very limited) respective surrounding regions, and that some areas produce each tequila and mezcal.

2. Tequila, by regulation, can only be made with the blue agave plant. Mezcal however, may be made with greater than 30 several types of agave plant, though the bulk are made with Agave Espadin.

three. Though each Tequila and mezcal are produced from agave crops, their differing production strategies trigger modifications in flavor. For instance, it’s widespread for mezcals to have a smoky flavor due to their distinctive roasting process. Some additionally notice that Mezcals have a tendency to style sweeter and richer than tequila.

So should you’re at the bar and you need to pop off with a display of overarching agave-spirit information, these are principally the points you want to know.

HOW TEQUILA IS MADE 

Now that we know what tequila is, and how it differs from mezcal, let’s check out how this Mexican spirit is actually made. Under are the seven primary steps concerned, from planting the blue agave to bottling the tequila.

1. HARVESTING BLUE AGAVE

Blue agave crops are ready to grow to be tequila someplace between eight to 12 years after they’ve been planted, and are harvested when their sugar content material is someplace above 24% — a minimum proportion mandated by regulation. The crops are harvested by jimadors, who are a particular sort of Mexican farmer who’s been educated to determine completely ripe agave. (See, advised you you’d study what jimadors are.)

A jimador chopping the leaves from a piña. Image: Flickr / omarsan

The jimadors use coa de jima, or “hoes for harvesting,” to reduce away the agave crops’ leaves, leaving the guts of the agave plant, the piña, which is then stuck in a truck and sent to be cooked.

2. COOKING THE PIÑAS

Now that the piñas have been plucked and had their leaves sheared off, it’s time to do some cookin’! This step happens in order to catalyze the chemical process inside the piña that converts complicated carbohydrates into fermentable sugars. Cooking also softens the piñas, which permits stated fermentable sugars to be extracted extra easily.

That’s the reason of what’s occurring with this step into phrases of the why. With regard to the how, you have got the three following choices for cooking the piñas, although needless to say the word “cooking” is used very loosely here.

HORNO (OVEN) 

First up, we have now the horno or oven, which is often made out of clay, stone, or ceramic, although there are different varieties as nicely. Though this technique uses an “oven” and refers to the agave cooked this manner as being “oven cooked,” what’s truly occurring here is a pressurized steaming of the agave.

A take a look at one sort of horno. Image: Flickr / Gabriel Saldana 

Hornos have a tendency to add tones of fruitiness and cooked agave to the final tequila product, in addition to an increase in the toasted sugar and caramel flavoring to the drink’s finish.

AUTOCLAVE

A second choice for cooking the piñas utilizes what’s referred to as an autoclave. Autoclaves are product of metal, and are more trendy and extra efficient (i.e. quicker) than hornos. Autoclaves, like hornos, use high-pressure steam to prepare dinner the agave piñas, however whereas hornos can take up to anyplace from 22 to 56 hours to get the job accomplished, autoclaves solely need about eight. (Although typically agave are left in autoclaves for a full 24-hour day.)

On prime of cooking quicker, autoclaves don’t impart any taste characteristics to the agave like the hornos do. Due to this, it’s typically thought that autoclaves create cleaner, but less complicated tequila end products.

Image of a tequila diffuser. Picture: Flickr / Bill Bumgarner

DIFFUSER

Finally, we’ve got the diffuser, which is taken into account by the tequila-drinking group to be a somewhat heretical device for cooking agave piñas. The diffuser, which appears like an enormous hunk of generic industrial equipment (pictured under), inverses the processes executed with the other two strategies, by first extracting the starches that shall be became fermentable sugars from the piñas by blasting the agave with high-pressure water as they move by on a conveyor belt after which cooking them. Because the slurry of agave pulp comes out of the diffuser, it’s poured into vertical autoclaves that prepare dinner every part, which causes the starches to be transformed into fermentable sugars. Typically, nevertheless, the agave aren’t even cooked after they’ve been water-blasted, but are as an alternative bathed in hydrochloric acid, which is used instead of warmth to convert the starches into fermentable sugars.

The Diffusor in Tequila Manufacturing: Are They Cheating? – Tequila Aficionado https://t.co/41jG3P1aHR pic.twitter.com/Aj0GHm7D3d

— Tequila Aficionado Media (@TequilaAficion) December 29, 2015

Why do tequila producers hassle with diffusers for cooking agave if it’s usually despised — which is not hyperbole on this context, belief — and there are different strategies obtainable? We guess you’ll be able to guess: It’s cheaper and quicker than the other strategies. Which suggests the most important tequila producers out there, together with Jose Cuervo and Sauza, use this technique for a lot of of their tequila strains.

3. SHREDDING THE PIÑAS 

As soon as the piñas have been cooked, they’re taken to a milling area where they’re crushed so as to have their sugary juices, or aguamiel, extracted. This course of is executed by sticking the piñas in a pit and then crushing them with a tahona, which is principally a large stone wheel that’s tied to a picket stake, and rolled around in circles time and again thanks to mule power — significantly, that is some Flinstones type of shit. Then, after the piñas are crushed, they’re soaked in water so as to extract the sugars. The mashed piñas are strained out of the sugary juice, and sometimes reused as compost or for animal feed. (Typically it’s even burned as gasoline or processed into paper.)

Tahona used for crushing piñas. Image: Flickr / omarsan

Again, as with diffusers, many trendy tequila producers have forfeited the ol’ stone wheel and donkey in favor of a mechanical crusher that separates the piña fibers from the aguamiel. Although this substitution is a bit more understandable than the diffusers, as it’s the 21st century and mule power isn’t actually a factor anymore.

4. FERMENTING THE JUICE 

Once the aguamiel has been extracted from the cooked, crushed piñas (we solely destroy you as a result of we love you, piñas), it’s then time to start fermenting some sugar water so as to create some booze! This happens by taking the aguamiel and dumping it into giant tanks made out of both wood or chrome steel. The aguamiel is often fermented with yeast — recall that yeast is a kind of single-celled fungus — that’s taken from the agave crops themselves. Different varieties of yeast are typically added nevertheless, similar to business brewers’ yeast, in order to encourage a unique finish product.

Tequila fermentation tanks. Image: Flickr / Gabriel Saldana

The under GIF provides slightly glimpse at what tequila fermentation truly seems like.

5. DISTILLATION OF FERMENTED JUICE

After you have the fermented aguamiel, it’s time to distill it, because right after the fermentation step, it’s only at about 4-5% ABV, and that wants to be upped to about 35-28% ABV in Mexico, and at the least 40% ABV (by regulation) in the U.S.

Jose Cuervo copper tequila stills. Image: Wikimedia / Artistic Commons

So, so as to distill the aguamiel, it’s taken and positioned in a kind of pot still used particularly for tequila distillation referred to as an Alembic nonetheless or Alambique in Spanish. When you’re unfamiliar with how the distillation process works, the overall concept is tremendous straightforward to grasp: Principally, a nonetheless — not simply an Alambique, however any still — is an enormous kettle that’s positioned over a fireplace.

The kettle has a bowl-ish backside main up to a slender, tubular prime, and the aguamiel (within the case of tequila) is poured into the still’s backside. Once you mild the hearth, the heat from the underside of the nonetheless causes the aguamiel — which is made up of ethanol (C2H6O) and water (H20) — to boil, thusly turning into a vapor. However as a result of ethanol has a lower boiling temperature than water, 173.1 degrees Fahrenheit versus 212 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll have a lot more ethanol vapor firing up the still than water. What does this mean? The liquid that comes out of the opening of the lengthy tubular neck at the prime goes to be a lot larger ABV than what you began with, because it has rather a lot less water in it.

Metal tequila stills. Image: Wikimedia / Stan Shebs

Now, that’s the essential distillation course of usually. When it comes to what goes on specifically with tequila distillation, you’re wanting at the aguamiel often being distilled twice, the primary time turning it right into a 20% ABV liquid generally known as ordinario, and the second time turning it right into a 55% ABV liquid generally known as rectification. When it comes to how long each distillation takes, it’s often about two hours for the first distillation and three to 4 hours for the second distillation. After the second distillation is complete, you could have silver, or blanco, tequila.

When it comes to tequila distillation caveats, an alambique still isn’t all the time used, and tequila isn’t all the time essential only distilled twice — typically it’s distilled 3 times, to up the ABV even additional. A column still, or “Coffey Still” is usually used instead of the alambique, though, as Lengthy Island Lou Tequila points out, column stills are often used together with diffusers, which suggests they’re typically related to poorer high quality tequila.

6. WATER ADDED/TEQUILA AGED (OPTIONAL STEPS) 

Now that you’ve a distilled blue agave-based liquor, you will have officially made tequila! However you’ve only made one sort of tequila, silver or blanco (as talked about earlier). If you’d like to make the opposite forms of tequila, you’ll need to add water, barrel age it, or both.

As far as barrel getting old is worried, virtually every barrel is a French or American white oak barrel that has beforehand been used to age Bourbon. Reposados are aged for anyplace from two to 12 months, Añejos for anyplace from one to three years, and additional añejos for over three years.

A sampling of tequila casks. Image: Flickr / Jeremy Brooks

Take into account that it’s the barrel ageing process that modifications the colour of tequila — when any sort of tequila first comes out of the stills, it’s clear, silver tequila. Most of the time, the longer a tequila ages, the extra amber shade it should tackle, in addition to barrel-derived taste that comes from the absorption of tannins, which are chemical compounds that provide dry, sharp flavors comparable to those of wine or black tea. Notice that the condition of the barrels — how worn out they are and what they have been previously used to age — will change the kind of taste profile the tequila takes on from the barrel through which it’s aged.

7. TEQUILA BOTTLING 

Now that you’ve your blanco, joven, reposado, añejo, or additional añejo tequila, you’re prepared to bottle it! This course of is kind of as straight forward as you’d imagine — take the dang tequila and stick it in bottles — however there are essential naming procedures to observe.

Because Mexico is extremely tight with its tequila restrictions, bottles need to have an Appellation of Origin standing printed on them, which, as defined by tequila.internet, sets the “standards for certain [tequila] products that producers have to meet in order to make products called by certain names.” So for a tequila to be labeled as such, “it must be produced in the declared territory… of Mexico, and the producer must follow the Official Standard for Tequila, known as NOM-006-SCFI-2005.” That region being Jalisco or a handful of its surrounding municipalities. When it comes to NOM requirements, we’ll get into that in a bit.

On prime of the Appellation of Origin, all 100% agave tequilas should have on their labels, Hecho en Mexico/Made in Mexico. Mixto tequilas, or tequilas that are not 100% blue agave, are allowed to be bought and bottled anyplace on the planet (they only want to be made in Mexico).

THE DIFFERENT CATEGORIES AND TYPES OF TEQUILA 

Now that we know what tequila is and how it’s made, let’s take a deeper take a look at the several types of tequila.

THE CATEGORIES OF TEQUILA 

When it comes to breaking down the totally different strains of tequila, you need to begin with the 2 umbrella categories, which include 100% blue agave tequila, and Mixto tequila. As you in all probability guess by the names, because of this 100% blue agave is made with sugars only derived from the blue agave plant. Mixto tequilas, however, might be made with 51% sugars derived from the blue agave plant and the opposite 49% of its sugars derived from different crops in addition to the blue agave.

100% BLUE AGAVE TEQUILA 

Together with being produced from 100% blue agave-derived sugars, 100% blue agave tequila can also be inspected and authorised by a Mexican government inspector in order to affirm its purity.

As you possibly can think about, out of the two umbrella tequila classes, 100% blue agave is taken into account to be far superior relative to mixto tequilas, especially by connoisseurs. Nevertheless, despite the fact that 100% blue agave tequila is usually thought-about to be of a lot better high quality, that moniker by itself doesn’t assure the highest quality. Totally different tequila distilleries have totally different processes, and some bear much more high quality management than others.

100% Pure Agave label on a bottle of DeLeon tequila. Picture: Tipsy Bartender 

MIXTO TEQUILA 

Mixto tequila, as talked about, could be made with up to 49% of alcohol derived from sugars aside from those produced by the blue agave. And whereas 100% blue agave will all the time be labeled as such, take into account that mixto doesn’t need to be labeled mixto — it may well just be labeled tequila.

That 49% of the mixto tequila’s sugar not from 100% blue agave is often derived from sugarcane, which delivers the identical alcohol content as agave sugar, however a unique flavor profile. Notice that these 49% of sugars not derived from blue agave can’t be derived from other varieties of agave crops by Mexican regulation.

Along with the allowance of up to 49% of sugars derived from other sources except for blue agave, Mixto tequila can, in contrast to 100% blue agave, be bottled outdoors of Mexico. It might also include caramel coloring, Pure oak or Encino oak extract, glycerin (another sweetener typically utilized in prescribed drugs), and a sugar-based syrup. And in the event you’re considering that each one of those fake, sugary elements make a hangover more doubtless after consuming, you’re most undoubtedly right.

A mixto tequila — observe that mixtos don’t explicitly say that they are 100% agave. Image: Tipsy Bartender

THE TYPES OF TEQUILA

Now that we have now the 2 categories of tequila down, let’s get into the different sorts. It’s essential to word both class and sort as a result of they overlap. For example, you possibly can have a mixto blanco, or a 100% blue agave blanco.

PLATA OR BLANCO (SILVER) 

As already talked about, blanco tequila is tequila that comes straight from the stills — it’s not aged in any respect, and subsequently good points no distinctive flavors from any sort of barrel.

A blanco tequila bottle. Image: Wikimedia / Wesportwiki

JOVEN OR ORO (GOLD) 

Joven tequila is, in accordance to tequila.internet, “typically a Mixto, where colorants and flavorings have been added prior to bottling.” Joven tequila can be a mix of blanco and a barrel-aged tequila. Due to the truth that Joven is comparatively low cost and is often a mixto (i.e. of inferior quality) it is typically used by bartenders because the tequila base for combined drinks comparable to a margarita or a Paloma.

A bottle of Oro tequila. Image: Flickr / Nicole Yeary

REPOSADO (RESTED) 

Reposado tequilas are aged for anyplace from two months to eleven months, which provides the tequila sufficient time to take on the golden hue and taste of the barrel during which it’s being aged. Even this relatively brief quantity of barrel getting older also can assist to clean out the flavor of the tequila, giving it less chew and a bit bit extra of a woody flavor.

A bottle of reposado tequila. Image: Flickr / Emmanuelle Bourgue 

AÑEJO (AGED)

Añejo tequila is tequila that has been barrel-aged for at the least one yr. As anticipated, it takes on a darker amber shade, as well as extra flavors from the barrels by which it’s aged, typically leading to a smoother, richer, and more complex-tasting tequila.

A bottle of añejo tequila. Image: Wikimedia / Broncinbuck 

EXTRA AÑEJO (EXTRA AGED)

Finally we’ve got Additional Añejo tequila, which is a relatively new classification of tequila added in 2006 by the Normas Oficiales Mexicanas. As Tequila.internet notes, “With this extended amount of aging, the Tequila becomes much darker, more of a Mahogany color, and is so rich that it becomes difficult to distinguish it from other quality aged spirits.” Typically occasions after this in depth growing older course of, distilled water can also be added to deliver down the ABV of the tequila and add smoothness general.

Bottles of extra añejo tequila. Picture: Flickr / Bill Bumgarner

HIGHLANDS VS. LOWLANDS (OR “THE TEQUILA VALLEY) 

Real tequila nerds who go deep on the blue agave spirit not only concern themselves with how long tequila has been aged (if it’s been aged at all) as well as whether or not it’s made from 100% blue agave, but also with whether it’s come from the highlands or the lowlands.

According to the Taste Tequila site, “Fans of the Highlands, also known as ‘Los Altos,’ claim that the soil is richer, and so agaves grown there are sweeter and produce tequila that is fruitier-tasting. Proponents of the Tequila Valley often point out that the region has a better water supply and agaves grown there produce an earthier flavor. But, given that different production methods can produce wildly different tequilas, we wondered how much the Highlands/Tequila Valley debate actually mattered.” (Remember that the lowlands, despite their identify, aren’t truly that low, as the town of Tequila is actually 3,870 ft above sea degree.) Under is an awesome explainer video of the distinction put collectively by Style Tequila.

As an necessary word with the highlands versus lowlands debate, plainly, again, according to Taste Tequila, it’s type of a draw — even among specialists — when it comes to which altitude of Jalisco territory produces higher tequila. So in case you hear lowlands or highlands, don’t assume it’s larger or lower high quality right off the bat.

NORMAS OFICIALES MEXICANAS (OFFICIAL MEXICAN STANDARD)

Now that you already know the classes of tequila, the forms of tequila, and where totally different tequilas originate, you’ll need another piece of data in order to absolutely understand any given tequila bottle history/label. And that piece of data has to do with the NOM identifier on the tequila bottle.

Image of the NOM official emblem. Picture: Wikimedia / Tequila Regulatory Council 

NOM, which is an acronym for Norma Oficial Mexicana (Official Mexican Commonplace), is a set of standards that companies should obey in Mexico, they usually truly apply to more than simply tequila. But within the context of tequila, NOM requirements are principally just sure standards that a tequila should meet so as to be thought-about tequila. As famous by Tequila.internet, “the NOM ensures the protection of the Appelation of Origin, regulates production, and continually establishes standards required to ensure quality. Those companies that comply with the regulations set forth by the Tequila NOM are then certified by the TRC (Tequila Regulatory Council), and labeled as an authentic Tequila producer.”

As somewhat aspect word here, the TRC, or CRT (Consejo Regulador del Tequila), is actually a personal group that has been established to assist be sure that tequila producers are manufacturing their products in accordance with NOM requirements. As The Tequila Specialist points out, “The CRT is a private non-profit organization with a worldwide scope that renders impartial decisions as to whether or not a product complies with the Standards.” The Tequila Specialist adds that “the CRT is the only private organization accredited by the Federal Mexican Government to evaluate the conformity to the Official Standard of Tequila by performing verification and certification activities.”

A glimpse of the Tequila Regulatory Council’s workplaces. Image: Flickr / ychamyuen

When it comes to what this truly means and the way it’s relevant to tequila labels, you’ll need to search for a NOM quantity as a result of that tells you that the tequila you’re holding is an official tequila from Mexico, which has been produced at a given distillery. For instance, you may even see “NOM 1535” on a bottle of DeLeón tequila, which tells you that this bottle of tequila complies with NOM requirements and was produced on the distillery associated with the number 1535. If you’d like to lookup which distilleries are associated with numerous NOM numbers, you are able to do so with the Tequila.internet NOM database. Understand that the NOM number doesn’t inform you where in Mexico the tequila was produced, solely which distillery produced it. You might still simply lookup where a given distillery is in Mexico after you have its identify although, right? Additionally needless to say a number of distilleries produce multiple brand of tequila, so you may even see totally different tequila manufacturers with the same NOM numbers on their labels.

HOW TO DRINK TEQUILA LIKE THE PROS

OK people, now that we’ve got all the technical stuff out of the best way, it’s time to get to the enjoyable half: How to drink tequila like a pro — understand that should you can, all the time go together with 100% blue agave tequila. Now listed here are some tequila consuming ideas and choices!

DRINKING TEQUILA NEAT, NICE AND SLOW

Like whiskey, you’ll be able to completely just sip on some tequila neat with no ice, no lime, no salt, none of those additional, flavor-affecting additions. BUT, you need to ensure you go together with the proper of tequila when it comes to sipping on it neat.

Keep in mind how we mentioned that totally different tequilas have totally different flavors? Nicely that info is available in additional useful when it comes to neat tequila. For instance, blanco is usually not the most effective tequila to sip on as a result of it hasn’t been smoothed over and flavor-enhanced with barrel growing older. So for those who’re just sipping on neat tequila — at room temperature or chilled, either is suitable according to the snobs — purpose for a reposado, añejo, or additional añejo that means you get a few of that barrel flavor in there, which will provide you with many more nuanced flavors.

Also, for consuming tequila neat, you’ll undoubtedly want to go together with a 100% blue agave tequila somewhat than a mixto — it’ll make an incredible distinction when it comes to taste, and more importantly, it is going to aid you keep away from a hangover. And take your time whereas sipping too. Be happy to nose the tequila simply as if it have been a whiskey (it has been barrel aged, in any case), and then sip it and let it relaxation in your tongue for a bit when you “chew” it. If it’s correct 100% blue agave tequila that’s been aged, you’re going to unlock a number of flavors that you simply in any other case wouldn’t if it have been in a combined drink.

As a aspect observe, in some regions of Mexico it’s additionally customary to comply with up little sips of tequila with a drink referred to as sangrita, which is a mixture of orange juice, grenadine syrup, and scorching chillies. (Not to be confused with Mountain Dew Sangrita Blast.)

Sangrita next to tequila. Picture: Flickr / Lucian Savluc 

DRINKING TEQUILA AS A SHOT

OK, that is where we get into very acquainted territory, right? Often the sequence is: lick the wedge of skin between your thumb and pointer finger, drop some salt on that wet spot, grab a slice of lime, then lick the salt, take your shot of tequila, and suck on lime. Last, elective step: Scream like someone just smacked your mama. The concept being that the saline taste up entrance will neutralize a mixto’s harsh taste, and the citrus from the lime juice will help to erase any gnarly aftertaste on the backend.

However most tequila aficionados would by no means use lime or salt to drink their tequila, even if they have been doing photographs. Why the ritual within the first place then? According to Cecil Adams of The Straight Dope (a well-liked Q&A column that’s been around since 1973), this apply truly did originate in Mexico. Right here’s what he says about why the tequila-lime-salt combo came to cross:

“Mexicans have long known that a little sodium chloride on the tongue can help to mollify the fiery flavor that characterizes much of their food. They use salt when downing chile peppers, for example. By the same token, citrus juices of various kinds have long been used to kill the aftertaste of the more potent forms of alcohol. For example, poor black folks in the U.S. used to cut their port wine with lemon juice. The Gallo wine company noticed this and began marketing Thunderbird, a white port-citric acid mixture. Anyway, when tequila came to the U.S., the salt and lime (or lemon) bit came with it.”

When it comes to why connoisseurs don’t just like the follow, plainly the considering goes: 100% blue agave tequila (the one type aficionados would drink) shouldn’t be tainted with lime and salt. And so far as mixtos? That shit can’t even grace their tongues, so why hassle making an attempt to enhance the taste with lime and salt?

In case you do need to do your photographs with lime and salt nevertheless, take consolation in the truth that it is a real tradition that originated in Mexico. Also, fuck people who attempt to inform you how to drink your drink, right?

DRINKING TEQUILA IN MIXED DRINKS

When it comes to including tequila to combined drinks, the good news is, in the event you’re including low-quality mixto tequila, the drink will masks its flavor; the dangerous information, in case you’re adding high quality 100% blue agave tequila, the combined drink will mask its taste. But there’s a extra necessary question, right? Do connoisseurs approve of placing tequila in combined drinks in any respect?

There doesn’t appear to be any real consensus among seasoned tequila drinkers as to whether or not tequila belongs in a combined drink. Some say that it should actually solely be enjoyed by itself, while others haven’t any drawback with both mixto or 100% blue agave being thrown right into a combined drink. In the event you do determine you you’re down with making tequila-based combined drinks — and we’re betting you will — under are 5 conventional tequila cocktails with recipes for you to check out.

1. Margarita

RECIPE:
1 1/2 oz. (45ml) Tequila
1 oz. (30ml) Cointreau (or Triple Sec)
three/4 oz. (22ml) Recent Lime Juice
Garnish: Salt/Lime Wheel

PREPARATION
1. Rim edge of margarita glass in lime juice and coarse salt. Put aside.
2. Combine tequila, cointreau and recent lime juice with ice and shake properly.
three. Add ice to rimmed glass and strain combine over. Garnish with a lime wheel.

2. Tequila Dawn

RECIPE
1 1/2 oz. (45ml) Tequila
three oz. (90ml) Orange Juice
half oz. (15ml) Grenadine Syrup
Garnish: Orange Slice/Maraschino Cherry

PREPARATION
1. Add ice to tall glass and pour over tequila and orange juice.
2. Slowly add the grenadine which can sink to the underside of the glass. Garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.

three. Paloma

RECIPE
1 1/2 oz. (45ml) Tequila
half oz. (15ml) Lime Juice
Four half oz. (135ml) Grapefruit Soda
Garnish: Grapefruit Wedge

PREPARATION
1. Fill glass with ice and pour over tequila and lime juice.
2. Prime with grapefruit soda and garnish with a grapefruit wedge.

Four. Long Island Iced Tea

RECIPE
1/2 oz. (15ml) Tequila
half oz. (15ml) Vodka
half oz. (15ml) White Rum
1/2 oz. (15ml) Gin
half oz. (15ml) Triple Sec
1 oz. (30ml) Sweet & Sour
Splash Cola
Garnish: Lime Wheel/Mint Sprig

PREPARATION
1. Add ice to tall glass earlier than pouring over tequila, vodka, rum, gin, triple sec and candy and bitter.
2. Prime with a splash of cola and garnish with a lime wheel and mint sprig.

5. Bloody Maria

RECIPE
2 oz. (120ml) Tequila
Four oz. (240ml) Tomato Juice
1/2 oz. (15ml) Lemon Juice
4 Dashes Worcestershire Sauce
2 Dashes Tabasco
1/2 Tbsp Horseradish
Pinch Black Pepper
Tajin
Lime
Celery
Banana Peppers
Cherry Tomatoes

PREPARATION
1. Rim edge of serving glass in lemon and tajin. Put aside.
2. Add all elements to an ice crammed shaker and shake briefly to combine.
three. Fill serving glass with recent ice and strain mix inside.
Four. Garnish accordingly.

HOW TO STORE TEQUILA

Right here’s the actually good news about storing tequila: All you want to do to be certain that its quality is stored intact is store it in a cool, darkish place at room temperature, whereas also ensuring that it’s securely sealed. Simple sufficient, right?

When it comes to specifics, all the principles are fairly widespread sense. Don’t retailer bottles of open tequila (as some of their alcohol will evaporate), don’t retailer tequila someplace warm, and don’t retailer it in a freezer. Yes, we’re taking a look at you (21-and-over) school students who maintain your Jose Cuervo in your little dorm room fridge.

The means we maintain our tequilas stored at Tipsy HQ — can you spell B.A.S.I.C.? Significantly although, this is how it’s finished. Picture: Tipsy Bartender 

Also, needless to say after you open a bottle of tequila, it’s going to oxidize identical to a bottle of wine. And when you don’t have to fear about tequila the best way you’d a few bottle of wine, you’ll nonetheless need to make sure that your bottle is stored shut tight after it’s open, otherwise it’ll begin dropping its flavor, often within a month.

And if you would like to get actual quirky together with your tequila storage, you possibly can maintain it in little picket barrels like this one. Though tequila in these tiny picket casks might tackle a particularly woody style that would masks the tequila’s natural flavor profile.

WTF IS UP WITH THE WORM? 

OK, now we have now to speak about… THE WORM! A.okay.a. gusano de maguey. And what do we’ve to say about that? Eff the worm! Significantly though, a bottle of tequila ought to by no means, ever have a worm in it. According to VinePair, “the worm in the bottom of the tequila bottle is an old school myth, a misunderstanding born of some marketing savvy and probably bolstered by the rowdy one-upsmanship of tequila swilling machismo.”

However regardless that the worm just isn’t truly related to tequila, it’s related to mezcal. So you may even see some real bottles of mezcal with a gusano de maguey in them. However although you might rightly discover a worm in your mezcal, as far as why it’s truly in there within the first place continues to be sort of unclear.

The worm in a bottle of mezcal. Picture: Flickr / Rodrigo Tejeda

For instance, Delish notes that one principle traces the origin of the mezcal worm “back to a distiller named Jacobo Lozano Páez, who in 1940 found that the larvae changed the taste of the agave and so began adding it to his spirits.” Delish also notes that others attribute the mezcal worm to a check of potency — if the mezcal can pickle the worm, it should have a high proportion of alcohol, and subsequently be good booze. VinePair provides that “There’s also the possibility this was purely a marketing angle, aimed at the American market. Tequila was flooding the U.S., and mezcal needed a way to differentiate itself. From here, ideas that the gusano indicated purity (a strong, pure mezcal would keep the worm intact) or could impart virility or good fortune were just a matter of some marketing imagination.”

Bottom line here: When you’re talking about tequila, overlook concerning the worm. When you’re speaking about mezcal, it might are available some bottles, nevertheless it’s undoubtedly just a advertising ploy.

THE FUTURE OF TEQUILA 

When it comes to what’s in retailer for tequila in the future, plainly issues are principally shiny, particularly regarding premium and ultra-premium tequilas (assume Casamigos, Patrón, Avion, and so on.). The growth in tequila demand — again, principally at the greater finish, particularly within the U.S. — isn’t all good nevertheless, as it’s apparently leading to a blue agave scarcity. However despite the scarcity, there are new technologies getting into the tequila recreation, which can, at the very least, assist growers control their crops.

BRIGHT FUTURE FOR PREMIUM AND ULTRA-PREMIUM TEQUILA

Like whiskey, it appears that evidently the market for tequila is certainly on the upward trajectory. In accordance to a Enterprise Wire release put out by the market analysis firm, Technavio, the worldwide tequila market is predicted to be value around $9 billion by 2019 with “The increasing demand for premium tequila among consumers [being] one of the major drivers of the market.”

Technavio additionally notes that flavored tequilas are going to assist develop the business, particularly as a result of the feminine shopper base is driving a lot of the growth, and it seems ladies want “prestigious and flavored drinks.” Manjunath Reddy of Technavio notes that “An increase in endorsements by celebrities, development of innovative packaging techniques, and growing online retail is expected to propel the growth of the market in Europe [through 2021].” No marvel everyone from Elon Musk to The Rock is moving into tequila.

When it comes to which firms are expected to profit most from the expansion, Technavio says that Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman, JOSE CUERVO, and Patrón Spirits Worldwide will be the huge winners.

THE POSSIBILITY OF A BLUE AGAVE SHORTAGE 

Right here’s the draw back to tequila’s growing reputation — the potential for a blue agave shortage. In accordance to a 2018 Reuters report, “The price of Agave tequilana… has risen six-fold in the past two years, squeezing smaller distillers’ margins and leading to concerns that shortages could hit even the larger players.” And sadly, this rise in worth has occurred concurrently with the aforementioned rise in demand. However what is going to this truly imply for tequila producers and shoppers shifting forward? Even more purpose to promote and purchase premium tequila!

With premium tequilas, the rising worth of blue agave crops doesn’t have an effect on the underside line as much as it might lower priced tequilas as a result of the margins aren’t as slim. So you could have a compounding cause for premium and super-premium tequilas to flourish. One: the market needs it extra, and two: the margins are method better for producers.

This blue agave shortage isn’t just hyperbole both. According to the identical Reuters report, “the 17.7 million blue agaves planted in 2011 in Mexico for use this year [2018] fall far short of the 42 million the industry needs to supply 140 registered companies, according to figures from the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) and the National Tequila Industry Chamber (CNIT).” That’s a distinction of 24.3 million blue agave crops needed to meet demand.

But don’t fret, as a result of producers are working on ways to combat the shortages, and plainly new rising methods might have the ability to remedy the issue by 2021. (Although we should always emphasize the might part, as it seems there’s nonetheless skepticism in the business as to whether or not these rising methods will probably be in a position to make up for all the blue agave that’s needed.)

DRONES FOR MONITORING BLUE AGAVE FARMS, VR FOR MARKETING EXPERIENCES 

Like just about every other business on the planet, the tequila business may also be disrupted by drones, and to some extent, virtual actuality. The drones are coming into play to assist growers regulate their crops (and should assist with the scarcity points), whereas the VR goes to assist tequila advertising by permitting individuals to experience the tequila business behind the scenes like never earlier than.

When it comes to using drones, Ismael Vicente, the top of the Tequila Regulatory Council’s agriculture division advised Meals&Wine that “We’re using [drones] to map exactly the 125,000 hectares that form the whole region of origin for tequila—that’s 25,000 agave plantations,” and that “We’re trying to get agricultural precision, a very clear snapshot of where we are in terms of agave supply.” Vicente added that “When it looks like you have an issue in an area, you send in a drone to give more precise details,” and “After seeing the images, a group of experts can go to that field and see what the exact situation is.”

Which means tequila producers could have a a lot better concept of exactly how a lot blue agave they’re producing, in addition to the power to deal with points with progress in actual time. The drones may even help producers make it possible for growers are solely getting their blue agave from designated tequila-production areas, and not sneaking in any additional crops from different regions — recall how necessary it’s for the blue agave to come from the Jalisco region and some of its surrounding municipalities. On prime of that, the drones will help growers ensure that none of their crops are stolen.

With regard to VR, you’re principally wanting at the tequila business utilizing the new know-how to assist give shoppers a glimpse into tequila manufacturing like by no means earlier than. Under, for example, is a 2D video of Patrón’s Oculus VR expertise, which makes use of “virtual reality technology to bring you inside Hacienda Patrón, where that spirit lives and breathes daily.”

OUR FAVORITE TEQUILA DRINKS 

OK, people! Now that your whole tequila information is in order — including how tequila is made, the history of tequila, how to drink tequila, the different sorts and categories of tequila, and the way forward for tequila — it’s time to truly get to consuming. So take a look at the tequila cocktails under, make some of these delicious recipes with your mates, and most significantly, have enjoyable!

See Recipe. 

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