Tequila is a regionally specific distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant, primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, 65 km (40 mi) northwest of Guadalajara, and in the highlands (Los Altos) of the central western Mexican state of Jalisco.
Let’s see some fun facts about it!
1. Aside from differences in region of origin, tequila is a type of mezcal (and the regions of production of the two drinks are overlapping).
2. The distinction in the method of production is that tequila must use only blue agave plants rather than any type of agave.
3. Tequila is commonly served neat in Mexico and as a shot with salt and lime across the rest of the world.
The red volcanic soil in the region around the city of Tequila is particularly well suited to the growing of the blue agave, and more than 300 million of the plants are harvested there each year.
4. Agave grows differently depending on the region. Blue agaves grown in the highlands Los Altos region are larger in size and sweeter in aroma and taste.
5. Agaves harvested in the lowlands, on the other hand, have a more herbaceous fragrance and flavor.
6. Mexican laws state that tequila can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and limited municipalities in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas.
7. Tequila is recognized as a Mexican designation of origin product in more than 40 countries. It is protected through NAFTA in Canada and the United States, through bilateral agreements with individual countries such as Japan and Israel, and has been a protected designation of origin product in the constituent countries of the European Union since 1997.
8. Tequila is most often made at a 38% alcohol content (76 U.S. proof) for domestic consumption, but can be produced between 31 and 55% alcohol content (62 and 110 U.S. proof).
9. Per U.S law, tequila must contain at least 40% alcohol (80 U.S. proof) to be sold in the United States.
10. In Mexico, Tequila is drank neat: without lime and salt. When it comes to lime and salt with their Tequila, Mexicans go for margaritas. Shots of tequila are drank without the extras.
11. Tequila is closer to lilies than cactus. Many believe Tequila is made from cactus, but the Agave plant is actually in the lily family not cactus.
12. Only the agave heart is used To make Tequila. Tequila is produced by removing the heart, or piña, of the agave plant, which can weigh anywhere from 80 to 200 pounds when harvested. This heart is stripped of its leaves and then cooked to remove the sap, which is fermented and distilled.
13. Agave plants are pollinated by bats. Agave plants are chiropterophilous, meaning that they’re pollinated by bats as opposed to insects or birds. The plants flower at nighttime, attracting the bats with the smell of rotting, over-ripened fruit. While drinking the nectar, the bats become covered in pollen and spread the grains to other plants.
14. Tequila has terroir. Tequilas from agave grown in the highlands north of Guadalajara are fruitier and floral; whereas those from the valleys are earthier, maybe a bit of spice to the flavor.
Blue agaveMuch of the work in making Tequila is done by hand. Agave is hand selected for harvest and harvested by hand. In premium Tequilas, the pulp is extracted from the fiber in large stone bowls by humans after being ground down in the tahona.
15. Color is NOT a guarantee of Tequila quality. Tequila turns color from aging in barrel or by the addition of color additives. A premium white tequila will taste much better than an artificially colored young tequila.
16. The three main categories of Tequila are:
Blanco – Un-aged and bottled within two months of distillation
Reposado – Aged between two-twelve months in barrels
Anejo – Aged between 1-3 years in small oak barrels
Two additional categories seen include:
Joven or Oro – mixture of Blanco and Reposado tequilas
Extra Anejo – Aged 3-5 years in oak barrels
17. Physicists at the National Autonomous University of Mexico figured out a way to make artificial diamonds out of tequila. Sadly, the synthetic diamonds are too small to be turned into jewelry, but they can be used for an array of electronic and industrial purposes.