One of Mexico’s most popular souvenirs is tequila. It is the most famous form of the Mexican national drink Mezcal and is extracted from the heart of the blue agave plant. The tequila comes from the state of Jalisco and got its name from the town Tequila in Mexico. As with champagne, only tequila, which comes from this region, may be called Tequila. All other agave alcohol in Mexico is called Mezcal.
You can only bring one liter of alcoholic beverages into Europe, the bottle of tequila weighs heavily in your luggage. Why not order a good tequila when you are already back from your vacation? In this article, we explain what is a good tequila in Mexico, what to look for when buying and which tequila is suitable for which taste.
“WHEN YOU HAVE PASSION, YOU HAVE EVERYTHING”
– Don Julio González
Agave fields in Jalisco
This statement comes from Don Julio, one of Mexico’s most successful businessmen. But who is Don Julio? In 1942, a 17-year-old teenager founded the first luxury tequila in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Don Julio Gonzalez had the financial responsibility for his family already as a teenager and saw his only chance in the Tequila production. He passionately convinced a local businessman to support his vision of a luxury tequila. The popular drink of Mexico was until then only mass production. To pay attention to quality was new. So Don Julio revolutionized tequila production and specialized in high-end tequila.
The blue agave – Important for the quality of a good tequila
Blue agave for high-quality Mexican Tequila
Tequila is extracted from the blue agave. There are over 170 kinds of Agave worldwide, including Aloe Vera or pineapple. However, only the blue agave is suitable for the production of tequila. The plant grows particularly well in Jalisco, because the hilly landscape has nutrient-rich red soil. An agave plant takes about 10 years to produce its own sugar, the agave syrup. Only then pure alcohol can be extracted from the agave heart.
Traditional tequila manufacturers cannot and will not wait that long. They harvest the agave plants after only two to three years and add sugar and ethanol during the production process. If you want to buy a high-quality tequila, pay attention to the sign 100% agave on a bottle. The used agave has already matured and the tequila contains no additives.
Don Julio paid special attention to the quality of the agave. Only fully mature plants were harvested. After the harvest, the leaves are cut off, leaving a fruit in the form of an oversized pineapple. The fruits are roasted slowly for 72 hours, which makes the tequila gentle and tasty.
The best tequila brands use only 100% agave
Blue agave for high-quality Tequila in Mexico
After the soft roasting of the agave hearts they are processed into most. Traditionally, they used big wheels. Before that horses or donkeys were used. Today, this process is done with machines. After crushing the agave, the tequila maker decides whether to leave it with a 100% tequila or add more sugar. However, the proportion of agave sugar must always be above 51%. Then, the most waits in huge barrels to develop already 5-7% alcohol. Thereafter, the tequila is distilled twice. The result is a clear tequila, the so-called silver tequila.
The tequila in oak barrels
Tequila in Mexico: Aging in oak barrels
Silver tequila is rarely drunk pure in Mexico. The most popular use of the silver tequila is in Magaritas. It tastes particularly good with Triple Sec and lemon juice. However, high quality tequila matures in oak barrels. For this purpose, whiskey barrels from the USA are bought, cleaned and filled with the silver tequila. Depending on the length of the maturity, the tequila assumes a brownish color. A slightly tanned Tequila is called Reposado, longer matured Tequila is called Anejo (aged). The longer Tequila stays in the barrels, the gentler but more intense is the taste.
If you want to taste the differences of the individual tequilas, you can do a tequila tasting in Mexico. This is offered in tourist areas on almost every corner. Even though there is usually a sales show behind, a tequila tasting is an interesting experience.
There is a worm inside – but only in the mezcal
Often there is the misconception that tequila contains a worm. However, this only applies to the mezcal, this agave drink traditionally came with a worm in the bottle. Today, this is hardly done anymore, but in the past it was a clear quality feature (if the alcohol does not decompose the worm, it cannot harm the stomach). In addition, the Mexican enjoys the Mezcal with ground worms and salt. Who likes it…..
Quality features of a good tequila:
– 100% Agave: Tequila can only be made without additives from fully mature agaves.
– No blisters: Good tequila should not blister when shaken. Bubbles are a sign that extra sugar has been used in the manufacturing process.
– Jimador: That’s what the Mexican tequila experts call themselves. They harvest the agave by hand and decide when the plant is ready for harvest.
– Slow cooking: After the leaves have been cut off, the fruits are quartered and cooked slowly. This process takes three days.
– Aged tequila (anejo): Tequila matures in oak barrels for a special taste experience.