Legend has it that the ancient Aztecs discovered tequila when lightening struck an agave plant, the lightening cooked the agave plant inside and caused the juice to leak out, when the Aztecs tasted it, they considered it a drink from the gods.
Tequila is an alcoholic beverage made from the succulent Agave plant that resembles the pineapple. Named after a small town called Tequila Jalisco in Mexico, it used to be called mezcal wine before the coming of the Europeans.
For a spirit to be considered tequila, it must be made from only blue agave plant and no other type of agave and it must contain at least 40% ABV. Just like wine and other beverages, tequila gets better with age.
ORIGIN & HISTORY
The production of Tequila dates back to the the 16th century near the city of Tequila. Before the arrival of the Europeans, natives made and consumed a fermented beverage from the agave plant, which they called pulque. When the Spanish arrived in North America and the conquistadors exhausted their supply of brandy, they started to distill a liquor from the juice of agave plant thereby creating an indigenous North American spirit. But mass production of tequila did not begin till later around 1600 when Don Pedro Sánchez, the marquis of Altamira established the first tequila factory in the modern day Jalisco region of Mexico
The process of Planting, tending, and harvesting the agave plant are carried out by people known as jimadores, they have intimate knowledge of the cultivation of the plant, this knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation and most of their efforts are done manually and have not been changed by technological advances.
The jimadores determine when each plant is ready for harvest, and carefully cut away the leaves from the piña, the succulent core of the agave plant using a special knife called coa. The plant must not be harvested too late or too early so they can have the right amount of carbohydrates for fermentation. After harvesting, the piñas are slowly baked to break down the carbohydrates into simple fructoses, after baking, the piñas are shredded or mashed with a large stone wheel called a tahona to extract the juice, the juice is then poured into either large wooden or stainless steel vats for several days to ferment into a wort with low alcohol content. The wort is then distilled for the first time to produce what is called ordinario, a second distillation is carried out to produce clear silver tequila. After these processes, the tequila can be bottled as silver tequila, or put in wooden barrels to age.
REGULATIONS (MEXICO STATE LAW)
Laws governing tequila production in Mexico state that tequila can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and limited municipalities in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. Tequila is recognized as a product of Mexican origin in over 40 countries around the world . It was protected through NAFTA in Canada and the United States until July 2020, and through bilateral agreements with individual countries such as Japan and Israel, it also has been a protected designation of origin product in the European Union since 1997.
The colour of tequila can range from clear, unaged spirit (blanco) to light gold (reposado – rested) and a vibrant gold (añejo – aged). Some Tequilas are extra-aged giving them a richer gold hue.
After distillation, the tequila is to be aged is put into oak barrels that are stacked on top of another or in a rackhouse. The tequila in these stacks age at different rates depending on the position of the barrel in the stack because the environment changes as you move from top to bottom, away from the sunshine coming in the door, or towards a dark corner. After Aging the tequila as desired, a master blender tastes from the different barrels and locations and blends them together for consistency, flavor, and quality.
TYPES OF TEQUILA
Tequila can be divided into four types depending on the length of Aging.
It is white spirit, bottled immediately after distillation, or aged for less than two months in stainless steel or neutral oak barrels.
This is tequila that has been aged for a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak barrels of any size
This is tequila that has been aged a minimum of one year, but less than three years in small oak barrels.
This is the tequila aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels; this category was established in March 2006.