“One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor”
Tequila is one of Mexico’s most famous exports. It is a distilled beverage that is made from the blue agave plant, which is sometimes referred to as the century plant.
A large amount of the drink is made near the town of Tequila Mexico.
The volcanic soil in the surrounding area where the drink is made is well suited for growing the blue agave. There are different varieties of the agave plant but by Mexican law only the blue agave can be used to make tequila. Mexico has international rights to the word “tequila”.
This means if the bottle is labeled “tequila” than the beverage originated from Mexico.
How to drink tequila
Many people drink it straight. However this is more common in the drink’s origin of Mexico. It’s also common for tequila to be served as a shot with salt and a slice of lime or lemon.
Tequila is also enjoyed in a variety of cocktails including the very famous Margarita. The Margarita is a very popular drink and could quite possibly be the way most people enjoy tequila.
The History of Tequila
The drink was first produced in the 16th century near the city of Tequila. The use of the agave plant to make alcohol dates back as far as the Aztecs. The Aztecs made a drink they called octli which is later referred to as pulque.
This drink was a fermented beverage made from the agave plant. In fact, one of the first distilled spirits in North America was made from the agave plant when the Spanish Conquistadors arrived and began making alcohol from the agave. Around 1600 Don Pedro Sanchez de Tagle, who was a Spanish aristocrat and often referred to as “The Father of Tequila”, began producing mass amounts of tequila in a factory.
This took place in modern day Jalisco.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that the style of tequila that is enjoyed today was first mass-produced.
Don Cenobio Sauza, who is also referred to as “Father of Tequila”, founded Sauza Tequila in 1873 and is credited as being the first to export tequila to the United States.
His grandson Don Fransisco Javier gained attention by saying ” there cannot be tequila where there are no agaves”. His insistence eventually lead to tequila only being produced in the State of Jalisco where the agave plant is prevalent.
How Tequila is Made
Planting and tending to the agave plant can be a tedious effort and requires a great knowledge by those who cultivate the plant. These cultivators go by the name of jimadores. The agave plants are regularly trimmed in order to stop the plant from flowering and in turn dying early.
This process of trimming allows the plant to fully ripen. The jimadores must decide when each plant is ready to be harvested. The decision when to harvest is crucial because the plant must have the right amount of carbohydrates for fermentation. The harvested pinas (pinas is the juicy core of the plant) are then put into ovens where they are slowly baked. This baking process breaks down complex starches into simple sugars.
Agave juice is then extracted from the baked pinas and allowed to ferment. The resulting fermented wort has a low alcohol content. This wort is then distilled at least twice and sometimes up to three times. The resulting distilled tequila is then bottled as “silver tequila” or placed into wooden barrels in order to age.
During this aging process the drink develops a more mellow taste and gains an amber color.
Tequila is a unique form of alcohol. Next time you find yourself enjoying the beverage consider the dedicated work the jimadores had to go through in order to bring the drink from plant to bottle.