It’s impossible to separate tequila from Mexican food and culture. For many, it is an acquired taste or a spirit they prefer mixed into a cocktail, like a margarita. However you like to drink it, it’s an important spirit for Mexican restaurants everywhere, and you’ll find it in one form or another wherever you go for your favorite Mexican eats.
Join one of your favorite Mexican restaurants, El Tapatio, in learning about this all-important spirit.
How is it made?
Let’s start with how tequila is made. Like any other liquor, tequila is distilled from the fermented sugars of a plant. In the case of tequila, that plant is blue agave. According to Mexican law, you can’t call a product tequila if it doesn’t come from the city of Tequila in Jalisco and contain at least 51% blue agave plant distillate. To make tequila, distillers start by taking the heart of the agave plant, called the piña, and steaming it. This process produces a juice called aguamiel. The next step in the process is to mix the aguamiel with cane sugar and yeast and then let it ferment for several days. The distillers then distill the fermented juice in copper pots until it reaches 90-proof or higher.
What are the different types?
Although there isn’t much variation in the distillation process, there are still multiple types of tequila. Specifically, there are five. They are:
- Blanco is immediately bottled after it’s distilled; some are aged for a short time.
- Reposado ages in oak barrels for 2 to 12 months.
- Joven is a mixture of Blanco and Reposado tequilas.
- Añejo is aged the longest, between 1 and 3 years. If a tequila is aged for over 3 years, it is called extra Añejo.
- Mixto contains less than 100% blue agave. It is usually mixed with sugars or other spirits.
Which is the best?
There is some debate over which tequila is the best. Some people will say that Blanco is the only pure tequila because it has the authentic taste of blue gave. However, aging tequila can bring out desirable flavors and characteristics. In general, tequila drinkers consider Blanco and Añejo to be the best, while Joven and Mixto are lower-shelf stuff. But honestly, we think the best tequila is the one you like to drink.