Tequila is considered a fine art in Mexico and increasingly popular worldwide. Both Tequila and Mezcal are distilled from the agave plant; however, true tequila is made only with Blue agave. Unless labeled 100% Agave, Tequila may contain only 51% agave and the rest will be from any other source of sugar like sugar cane (Mixto).
Tequila is made by distilling the juice of ripe blue agaves (these take up to ten years to grow) which turns the starches into sugar pulp. Juices are then pressed from the pulp and placed in fermentation tanks. Yeast is added to act on the sugar which turns it into alcohol. The fermented juice is distilled up to three times.
Tequilas have different flavors based on the ageing length and type of barrel they are stored. French or American white oaks are often used and the degree of barrel charring will add to the flavor.
There are five basic Tequila’s:
- Gold – almost always a mixto (blend of sugars from agave and molasses from sugar cane) that has been sweetened and has a slight caramel flavor
- Silver (Blanco) - fermented in stainless steel and aged for less than 2 months. Best in fruit-based drinks and cocktails.
- Reposado (Rested) – aged in oak barrels for two to twelve months to gain complexity, color and a smooth texture. This is one of the most popular tequilas in Mexico.
- Anejo (Aged) - aged in barrels (usually old bourbon casks) for one to three years
- Extra Anejo (Extra Aged) – aged in oak barrels for more than three years.
Mezcal offers a smoky aroma while Blanco, Reposado, Anejo and Extra Anejo offer different colors and aromas. Skip the lemon and salt and try true, 100% Agave tequila today, neat and in a glass!