If you have a special place in your heart for tequila, you certainly aren’t alone, as millions of people enjoy this unique spirt that is made from the agave plant. When we think of tequila, we automatically think of Mexico, as that is mainly where the spirit is distilled and we all know and love Mexican tequila. A short note on history;
Tequila entered the US during the prohibition and was smuggled across the border and this unique spirit enchanted the US population, making it as popular as it is today.
How to make tequila
The spirit is made from the agave plant, which is native to Mexico (it might please you to learn that Agave Australia presents a superb tequila) and the agave farmer cares for the plants, waiting for the harvest period, which can be anything from 7-14 years. When the time is right, a special knife (coa) is used to dissect the plant and remove the pina, the heart of the plant.
Steam baked in a special oven
The pinas are slowly baked in a clay oven for 2-3 days in order to create the fermentable sugars that will be turned into alcohol. Once the baking process is complete, the substance is pressed, releasing a liquid and this is put into either wooden barrels or steel containers and fermented with a mixture of yeast and water.
Sugar into alcohol
The fermentation process results in the sugars turning into alcohol and this is a critical part of the making; get this wrong and you have to start again! The type and amount of yeast is critical, plus the water volume needs to be precise for the amount of mash; the top distillers have the process down to a fine art, ensuring the environment is perfect.
Alcohol by volume
A close eye is kept on the alcohol by volume ratio, between 4% and 9%, then the liquid can be distilled. Of course, each producer would have their own special way, much like a chef preparing a meal, and certain brands have a great reputation for their liquor. Click here for an interesting blog on how the hospitality sector is changing.
It is standard to distil twice, to reach a 35% of alcohol by volume. Then the liquid can be bottled as silver tequila, or blended and aged, which is a great way to enhance the taste. Over the centuries, tequila producers have perfected their craft and with tech, everything can be replicated precisely.
Varieties of tequila
There are 3 variations;
Blanco is not usually aged, but may be left in a steel tank for a period, which adds some bite to the taste. Reposado is aged in oak barrels and for many people, this is their favourite. It can be left for 2-12 months and close inspection is needed. Anejo is aged for at least 1 year and up to 3 years, which is considered to be the very best tequila.
Of course, it’s all about personal taste and if you would like to try premier tequila, there is an Australian producer who has agave orchards in QLD and they can easily be found with an online search.