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Tequila

Tequila

  • Mezcal is the national drink of Mexico and this artisanal product is distilled in many regions throughout the country from the agave plant. The heart of the agave, called the piña is heated either in an oven or by steam to convert its starches into sugar, which is then fermented and distilled. Tequila is a type of Mezcal distilled from blue agave. Tequila is made in Jalisco and the four states that surround it.
    There are several different styles of Tequila including; blanco, reposado, añejo and extra-añejo.

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  • Any spirit that's distilled from agave can be called Mezcal. There are many different factors that influence the quality of the Mezcal, including the terroir where the agave is grown, how the agave is harvested and methods of distillation including the type of still used, the temperature at which fermentation takes place, the method of cooking the agave and the maturation techniques used to produce the spirit.

    Tequila is distilled from fermented aguamiel (honey water derived from the agave plant, which is also called a Maguey). Agave is actually a succulent, as opposed to a cactus, and is a member of the lily family. There are 400 agave species, all with the botanical name of agavacea. Most quality Tequila is produced from one type of agave called agave tequilana, agave azul, or blue agave, grown in areas around the Jalisco region. The mezcals produced in other regions of Mexico are often made with other types of agave, including Espadin, Sotol and Tobola.

    Only the heart of the agave (the piña), at the peak of ripeness, is used in mezcal production. In order to produce mezcal, the starches from the agave are converted to sugar with the use of heat. The piñas can be baked in an oven in the tequila highlands, steamed in industrial tequila production, or baked in pits dug into the ground in mezcal production. Once the starches are converted, the piña is shredded on a stone wheel, and the pulp is fermented.

    The fermented agave can be distilled in either copper pot stills or in continuous stills, but most quality Tequila is produced through double distillation in pot stills. Some old-fashioned spirits are still produced in ceramic stills with bamboo components.

    Every bit of the distillate is used. The heads are used for rubbing alcohol, the pure heart is used for the base and since the tails have the most flavor, they are added back to the spirit to add depth and aroma.

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  • Tequila is produced in five Mexican states, but the center of Tequila production is Jalisco, where blue agave originated. The best Tequilas are estate grown, fermented, distilled and bottled. Some believe that the superiority of this region has to do with the volcanic soils of the area. The first expansion of the delimited Tequila area was in Tamaulipas, and now Nayarit, Michoacan and Guanajuato can also produce tequila.

    Tequila is an Indian word that means volcano. There are lowland and highland regions within the delimited area of production. Mexico is a mountainous country so the lowlands start at around 4,000 ft; Guadalajara is at 4,500 ft, and the city of Arundas, in the highlands, is at 7,600 ft.

    There are six types of Tequila. The lowest category is mixto, which is a spirit that is distilled from a variety of sugars. Only 51% must be agave sugars. Both mixto and quality Tequilas can be made into any of the following styles:


    Blanco is the youngest style of Tequila. Some distillers bottle this classification as plata or silver for this classification. The word "platinum" to indicate this style is a brand name. Blanco must be bottled within 60 days of distillation.

    Joven abocado is a young Tequila that is flavored with caramel. This type of tequila is almost always a mixto.

    Reposado is aged up to a year, and can be aged in any size barrel.

    Añejo Tequila has to be aged in small, 600-liter barrels for a minimum of one year.

    Extra añejo is a recently recognized type of Tequila that is aged a minimum of 3 years in oak.

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  • Mezcal is similar to Tequila, with the exception of the fact that different agaves are often used. Mezcal is known for its rich, smoky aromas and flavors. It is produced in the states of Oaxaca and Chihuahua and must be 100% agave.

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