Mexico’s national spirit, true tequila, comes from the State of Jalisco, 65 kilometres northwest of Guadalajara.
Before the conquistadors came to Mexico, Aztecs made a fermented beverage from the blue agave by chewing chopped up plans to start the fermentation. The resulting low alcohol beverage was mildly intoxicating, but enough to make alcohol intolerant Aztecs drunk.
When the Spaniards arrived in 1521 they consumed the brandy they had brought with them but soon stocks ran out, and they started using agave as a prime material for fermentation and distillation.
By 100, Don Pedro Sanchez de Tagle was the first to produce tequila on a commercial basis
American students visiting Mexico made tequila popular. The country offered inexpensive travel and adventure in 1950’s students could afford to drink to their hearts’ content, and get drunk without having to worry much about cost.
Upon return to the Untied States, student pubs were inundated with requests for tequila. Eventually, tequila became a mainstream American spirit to the extent that Herradura, a very well established and old tequila distillery, was purchased by brown-Forman, huge American beverage marketing and distributing company.
Sauza and El Tosoro are owned by Fortune Brands another American beverage distributor.
In the 1990’s tequila became popular in Germany mainly because of German tourists enjoyed it while vacationing there.
By law only agave tequilana azul Weber (blue agave) a native plant grown within the Jalsico state, may be used to produce tequila.
Mezcal on the other hand is derived from the agave plant, of which there are more than 10 varieties from the state of Oaxaca. Mezcal is generally not aged, and is rough in texture and rustic in taste.
Occasionally, small distilleries market mescal with guzano (worm) that is supposed to prove that the distillate is powerful enough to kill a worm. This is nothing but a trick encourage to gullible tourists to buy.
Agave for tequila reaches maturity in seven years, and after harvest the pina (the fruit) is chopped and steamed. Subsequently the pieces are boiled, fermented and distilled, either in columnar-, or in alembic style stills.
Today, there are 100 tequila distilleries producing 600 brands, most of which go to the U S A.
There are officially five tequila quality levels
Oro –addition of caramel for colour, glycerine for texture, and fructose for smoothness, are permitted.
Blanco – not aged, and bottled as the distillate comes out of the still.
Reposado – must be aged for a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak.
Anejo – must be aged for more than a year but less than three years
Extra anejo – must be aged for as minimum of three years in oak.
are served with salt a slice of lemon or lime. First, the salt is licked, then tequila is sipped, and the citrus sucked.
High quality tequila may be enjoyed from a snifter much like cognac or aged spirit, but most frequently Mexico’s national distillate goes into cocktails like margarita or tequila sunrise.
In the 1970’s the L C B O carried only two brands, today it carries more than fifty, including offers through its Vintages division and on-line several more.
Here are some international brands of tequila:
Jose Cuervo Tradicional
Aged in oak for six months, with hints of oak, spices, and vanilla sweetness. Smooth.
Delciate anejo tequila with an amber colour, warm and expanding finish.
Clear, unaged, earthy, and spicy with citrus tartness. Used in cocktails
Unaged, double distilled in alembic style stills with a pure flavour
Young, crystal clear and pure tequila rich in agave aroma and refreshing taste.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
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