The Everything Guide to Tequila


Just like Champagne, Tequila has an appellation of origin: if you don’t make it out of blue agave plants from certain regions surrounding Tequila, Mexico (Jalisco, Guanajuato, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas), then it cannot be called tequila.
According to Andrés Rodríguez, the international president of the Mexican Academy of Tequila, explains that tequila is not meant to be taken suddenly. You should drink it slowly, to enjoy its aromas and flavors. He also made a list of the best tequila brands, based on the quality of the spirit, so you make the best decision when you have to choose a bottle for a special occasion, and you are not seduced by sophisticated bottles and high prices that do not guarantee the best tequila.

A Brief History Lesson

Tequila was first produced in the 16th century near the city of Tequila, which was not officially established until 1666. A fermented beverage from the agave plant known as pulque was consumed in pre-Columbian central Mexico before European contact. 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.

The Tequila Worm Mythtequila worm

Only certain mezcals are ever sold con gusano (with worm). They are added as a marketing gimmick and are not traditional. The tequila regulatory council does not allow gusanos or scorpions (which are sometimes also added to mezcals) to be included in tequila bottles.

Types of Proper Tequila

1. Blanco (white) or plata (silver)

A white tequila, unaged and bottled or stored immediately after distillation, or aged less than two months in stainless steel or neutral oak barrels. It’s harsher, with the bold flavors, and is the variety that best preserves the natural qualities of the agave. Recommended brands:
Tequila Revolución
Tequila 1800
Tequila Campo Azul
Tequila Avión

2. Reposado (rested)
This tequila is aged a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak barrels of any size. Thanks to the time spent in barrel, the reposado begins to present notes of wood, sweet aromas, and light vanilla. Recommended brands:
Tequila Leyenda del milagro
Tequila Hornitos
Tequila Herradura Colección de la Casa

3. Añejo (aged)
As the name indicates, it’s aged in a barrel for a minimum of one year. These barrels must be white oak and must not have a capacity greater than 600 liters. Compared to blanco and reposado, its smoother, subtler, and more complex. Recommended brands:
El Tesoro de Don Felipe

4. Extra Añejo (extra aged)
This is aged a minimum of three years in oak barrels; this category was established in March 2006. In extra aged tequila, the notes of wood, spices, and vanilla are even more pronounced and complex. Definitely, the most exalted flavors come from this kind of tequila. Recommended brands:
José Cuervo Reserva de la familia
Patrón Extra Añejo 7 Años

Why Tequila Gets a Bum Rap: You’re Drinking It Wronggirls drinking tequila

There’s nothing dignified or delicious about taking a shot of tequila: licking salt from your hand, wincing at the awful, harsh flavor as the shot hits your tongue, and then there’s the mouth-twisting lime to erase any trace of the drink, simply proving that tequila is totally disgusting. According to David Alan, manager of trade education and mixology at Patrón Tequila, the tradition of tequila shots is a remnant of days, “when crappy tequila dominated the market […] the shooting ritual was a quick way to get it down the hatch so you didn’t have to taste it. You don’t need salt and lime anymore because there’s so much good tequila on the market.”

How to Drink Tequila Like a Grown-up

First things first, you need to learn how to make a proper Margarita: 2 parts tequila, 1 part Cointreau, 1 part fresh lime juice; shake and strain into the chilled glass of your choice, which has been lightly rimmed with coarse salt. No ice in the glass, and don’t you dare even mention a blender.
Now that you’ve mastered the margarita, you can explore other cocktails. Try a Bloody Mary with tequila instead of vodka. Swap a G&T for a Paloma, which is made with tequila and grapefruit soda, rather than tonic water, served over ice. Or—unthinkable to most Americans—drink it neat, taking small sips, not gulps. Pour it into a wine glass or brandy snifter to open up the rich bouquet.

Now that you’re a tequila expert, share your stories. What’s your favorite brand of tequila? What’s your favorite tequila-based cocktail? What else would you like to know about tequila that we didn’t cover in this post? Please, take a minute to contact us for more information. Salud!

Interested in other liquors? Check out our in-depth dive into the world of whisk(e)y.
Thursday January 18th, 2018