Tequila & Blue Agave Spirits – History, Flavors and Etiquette Behind.

Tequila

The History, Flavors and Etiquette Behind the Spirit.

What is Tequila?

A complex, sophisticated and misunderstood spirit… Its Made from the distillation of 100% Agave, or rather a very specific species of agave called Agave Tequilana – Weber Blue Variety. This particular agave plant requires between 8 and 12 years to develop before it is ready to be harvested, which generates a multifaceted raw material with many characteristics. Because it is produced from this mature agave, tequila possesses a flavor profile that is more intricate than any other spirit in the world.

What is it’s history?

The Question of Tequila’s history sparks debate amongst even the most well-versed scholars. Popular belief has always been that this spirit was first produced after the Spanish arrived in Mexico from Europe in the early 1600s. However, current research shows that tequila’s roots can be traced to a time long before this. The University of Guadalajara is working with a team of experts to uncover evidence to support this theory, and they are excited to unravel the mystery of tequila’s origin in Mexico.

Where is Tequila Produced?

Much like Scotch or a french wine, Tequila must meet age-old criteria in order to receive the “Appellation of Origin” certification from the Mexican government and it must be produced in one of the following five Mexican states: Jalisco, Michoacan, Tamaulipas, Guanajuato and Nayarit. Where the agave is grown has a significant impact on the flavor profile of each and every batch of spirits that is produced.

Highland Tequilas possess a flavor that is a strong fruity, herbaceous character. This is in part due to the high quality of the nutrient-dense soil, the consistent climate and overall cooler temperatures which make for larger agave plants that are higher in sugars and complexity. Tequilas produced in the lowland areas are made with smaller agave plants, resulting in a dry and more aggressive flavor profile.

What should a “good” tequila taste like?

There are many options on the market and some… well, leave much to be desired. Many people have a “memory” or experience with this spirit that has left them not wanting to come back. Like any other fine spirit, tequila should possess depth and complexity of flavors and nose. There are more than 300 different characters found in tequilas, each influenced by the region and soil where it is grown and the method in which it gets produced. The complexity of the flavors found in a good sipping tequila can range from light and fruity to deep and smoky and everywhere in between – just like a fine scotch or balanced whiskey.

What are the different flavor profiles?


Blanco
Transparent in color with silver shades, Blanco is clean, clear and crisp. Some say that Blanco tequila best portrays the essence of the pure blue agave plants from which it is distilled and is favored by tequila experts.

Reposado
Hay-like in color with shades of gold, Reposado is rested for a period of several months but not more than 12. A Reposado tequila offers a perfect balance of agave flavors with notes that it draws from the barrel in which it is aged.

Añejo
Oily in texture and dark amber-ish; the color can range from copper to reddish. An Añejo tequila is aged anywhere from 12 months to 3 years. Like a Scotch, the flavor profile emphasizes the barrel notes with a less assertive flavor of agave plant itself.

Los Osuna Tequila

Los Osuna Blue Agave Spirits. Gold Medal winning Tequila.

How to choose the best Tequila to suit your palate.

For someone who is new to this spirit, a great place to start when choosing one to try, is to draw parallels between the three flavors, to the tastes of more familiar spirits. For example, a drinker who enjoys vodka or gin will most likely appreciate the bright, young flavors found in a Blanco. Single malt scotch drinkers will likely find beauty in a Reposado. A palate that enjoys the strong presence of tannins usually found in a spirit which has been aged for over 10 years, will relish in the flavors found in an Añejo. Those who like blended scotches will particularly enjoy tequilas produced in the highlands.

Common misconceptions

  1. That it is best enjoyed with lime and salt. If you’re in college, perhaps… But like most fine spirits, tequila should be sipped and savored.
  2. That it should be served in a shot glass. Fine tequila is better served in a large open snifter like a nice brandy.
  3. That the bottles include a worm in the bottom. Fact – tequila NEVER has included a worm. Mezcal, which is produced in a different region and from other agave species not considered to be Tequila producing plants, is the spirit which is famous for including a worm in the bottle.

What is the best way to drink Tequila?

Fine tequila is best consumed slowly from a large snifter which allows air to enter its bouquet, much like a wine. A fine tequila, as with any other “fine” spirit, will always elevate the quality of a cocktail as well. So strap on your mixologist goggles and start crafting.