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The history of Tequila
The famous drink was named after the city of Tequila, which is located near the Pacific coast. According to stories it was the Spanish who already knew about the manifold processing possibilities of the Agave. In the 16th century they produced the spirit for the first time. The sweet tasting heart of the blue Agave was even distilled illegally at that time, until the production was legalized by taxation in the 17th century. As a result of Mexican independence - in 1821 - it became a challenge to ship Spanish spirits. After that the producers expanded their production, gained more and more political influence and tequila became the official national drink.
Only the blue Weber Agave may be used as raw material for Tequila. The heart of the agave is steam cooked for two to three days at 60-85 degrees. At larger producers the high pressure autoclaves are very common, because they shorten the steam duration to about 14 hours.
The contained sugar is broken down to simple sugar, the crushed agaves are crushed and pressed to agave syrup. Already in this production step the producers have to decide whether a 100%- or Mixto-Tequila should be produced. With a Mixto-Tequila at least 51% agave sugar must remain in the tank. Then the mass is fermented by adding yeast and sugar is converted into alcohol. This mash is distilled twice, sometimes even three times and the result is a crystal clear Tequila. By the way, no yeast is used for the "real" Tequila - but the bacterium "Zymomonas mobilis" - which is a real speciality.
This original form of tequila - made from the Blue Agave - comes from the region around Oaxaca in the Mexican state of Jalisco. If you want to know more about the different storage times or Mezcal bottles with caterpillars, please click on the subcategory Mezcal.
Tequila and its categories
Only the blue agave may be used for tequila production. According to the governmental authority Consejo Regulador del Tequila A.C. two classes are distinguished:
In the Mixo Tequila at least 51% of the sugar must be from the blue agave, the other sugar can be derived from other sources such as cane sugar. In contrast to the 100% Agave Azul Tequila, this Tequila may be filled and shipped in bottles and tanks.
100% Agave Azul Tequila may only be bottled and shipped.
With particularly high-quality Tequilas like Reposado and Añejo the barrels may only be opened and filled under supervision.
By an additional classification according to ascending maturation time, the tequila is divided into five categories:
- Class 1: Blanco, Silver, Plata is a white, transparent Tequila, which is filled into bottles immediately after distillation.
- Class 2: Gold, Joven, Oro is a blend of white tequilas (class 3, 4 and 5) that have already matured. Up to 1% of the total amount can be added by sugar glaze, oak extract.
- Class 3: Aged, Reposado: A tequila aged in oak wood for at least 2 months.
- Class 4: Extra-Aged, Añejo: A tequila matured in oak wood for at least 1-3 years. The vessel size must not exceed 600 liters.
- Class 5: Ultra-Aged, Extra-Añejo: a tequila matured for at least 3 years.
Drinking culture and drinking recommendation
Tequila belongs to the usual party classics - a popular way to drink it is with salt and lemon. The back of the hand is moistened with lemon juice, sprinkled with salt and licked. Then drink the Tequila as a shot and bite into the sour lemon slice as a finish - ready is the Tequila pleasure. The higher the quality of the Tequila, the less it is accompanied by sharp aromas.