In this Episode of The Wheel of Spirits we’re all about Tequila. But before you say ‘Bah! Horrible stuff!: Tequila is much more than licking salt from your hand, chucking it down your throat and biting into a piece of lemon. Be a little kinder to this traditional Mexican spirit and join me now on a brief journey through the world of Tequila.
Almost all Tequilas are distilled in the Mexican state of Jalisco. The Blue Weber Agave grows here for around eight to nine years before it is ready to be harvested. In other words, the drink you swallow with a screwed up face in the space of three seconds has taken at least eight years to find its way into your glass. Once harvested, the hearts of the agave, which look rather like big pineapples, and are even called Piñas, are cooked and ground to a pulp. Yeast is added to the agave juice extracted from this and the liquid is left to ferment and produce alcohol. Most Tequilas are ready for bottling after two distillation cycles and are sold under the name of Blanco or Silver. Reposado is ready for bottling after maturing in oak casks for two to twelve months, Tequila matured for one year or more earns the name Añejo, and everything cask-matured for three or more years can be labelled as Extra Añejo.
In the 18th century, the agave spirit was primarily the drink of the rebels fighting for Mexican independence. However, the increasing popularity of Tequila soon meant that there were not enough agaves to meet the demands of Tequila fans around the globe.
This explains why we now also have Mixtos. Instead of being made exclusively with agave sugars, around half of the sugar needed is extracted from other plants – for instance sugar cane. So it’s always good to take a closer look at the label: if you find the words 100% Agave Tequila, it is made exclusively with sugar from agaves. If not, the content of the bottle in your hand is not pure agave tequila.
In our coming videos, we will be showing you how to avoid the morning-after-the night-before headache with our recipe for a classic Paloma with salt and refreshing Ultimate Grapefruit, how to make a Cancún Cooler with Bitter Lemon and that Tequila mixed with Elderflower Tonic also makes a great El Picardo.
So, after discovering Burritos and Guacamole, you now know that Tequila is another fantastic Mexican speciality – and just how much work goes into every bottle. Olé – see you soon. Cheeers!
Texted by Philipp Mogwitz.