Tequila is a popular liquor that is used in a variety of cocktails and consumed as a shot for various celebrations.
Despite being such a popular addition to many types of drinks, very few people actually know what the liquor is made from.
This is something that is true for many types of liquor, in particular grain alcohol and vodka.
However, tequila has one of the most interesting source ingredients of all kinds of spirits. In this article, we are going to look at what tequila is made from, different styles of tequila, and popular tequila cocktails.
What Is Used To Create Tequila?
The main ingredient used in the production of tequila is blue agave, sometimes known as tequila agave.
This is a sweet plant that is native to the Mexican states of Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, Aguascalientes, and Colima. In fact, it thrives in these areas which is why tequila was created there.
It is important to note that tequila is a type of mezcal because it is produced using agave. However, in order for a spirit to be called tequila, it must be made with blue agave.
Spirits that are made from other agave species are mezcals but not tequila. This is similar to how scotch is whiskey, but not all whiskeys can be called scotch.
How Is Tequila Made?
To make tequila, a specific process has to be followed. This process begins with the harvesting of blue agave plants. The most important part of the plant is the heart or the piñas.
The piñas are first baked in specially designed ovens. This process causes the starch in the plant to convert to sugar. This is necessary for the alcohol to ferment properly.
After the piñas have been baked, they are shredded and pressed. This part of the process helps to release all the sugars from the fibers of the plant.
At this point, some tequila producers add yeast to the tequila to kick-start the fermentation process. However, there are some producers who prefer to let the natural, native yeasts work to get things going.
The juice created by the sugars from the piñas is left to ferment for up to four days. After this, it is put through a distillation process. This allows the tequila to reach the minimum alcohol content required by law to be classed as tequila.
At this point, the tequila can either be bottled or aged. If the tequila is aged, producers need to be careful not to over-age it as it can end up losing its agave flavor.
There are only 5 Mexican states in which tequila can be made which we mentioned above. With that being said. The vast majority of tequila is produced in Jalisco.
This is because the loose, sandy soil provides the perfect growing conditions for blue agave plants.
Different Styles Of Tequila
We know that tequila is a type of mezcal spirit. However, the category of tequila can also be broken down into different styles that are used for different things.
Below, we will look at the 5 different types of tequila and how they are best enjoyed.
Blanco: This is the youngest type of tequila that you can get. It is either bottled immediately after distillation or it is rested for a maximum of 2 months.
This type of tequila is great for cooking with and for a smooth taste if you are going to be doing shots. It is also one of the best types of tequila for creating fun and delicious cocktails.
Joven: this type of tequila is a mix of either unaged or aged and unaged tequilas. This is a very similar type of tequila to Blanco and is made in the same way.
The main difference is that Joven tequila is colored with a stunning golden hue. You may even see this type of tequila labeled as gold tequila. This is another great tequila to use in cocktails
Reposado: this type of tequila is aged more than Blanco and Joven. Because of this, it has a naturally darker color rather than having color added, and the flavor is richer too.
The unique rich flavor is thanks to the time spent in barrels during the aging process. This type of tequila must be aged for a minimum of two months.
Añejo: this type of tequila is the next level up from Reposado. In order for a tequila to qualify for this rating, it must be aged for a minimum of a full year.
On average, tequilas in this classification spend between 1 and 3 years aging in barrels. This type of tequila should be sipped and savored rather than taken as a shot or in a cocktail.
Extra Añejo: as the name suggests, this is a very similar type of tequila to Añejo. Again, tequilas in this classification should be sipped and enjoyed, similarly to high-end whiskey.
This type of tequila has a very smooth profile and trained tastebuds can pick up notes of wood and toast.
Popular Tequila Cocktails
Not everyone wants a tequila that they can sip neat. Many people prefer to purchase Blanco or Joven tequila to make delicious cocktails for celebrations.
Below are some of the most popular tequila cocktails that you can make for your next party.
Tequila Screwdriver: one of the most popular and simple tequila cocktails is the tequila screwdriver. As you may have figured from the name, this is a twist on the classic vodka cocktail. All you need are orange juice and tequila.
Margarita: perhaps the most classic tequila cocktail of all time is the margarita. This is a sophisticated and refreshing cocktail that is easy to make. Using only three ingredients, you can have this grown-up cocktail whipped up in no time.
Tequila Sunrise: perhaps one of the most beautiful cocktails of all time is the tequila sunrise. The ombre orange and yellow are enough to evoke memories of beach sunsets. It is also a surprisingly sweet cocktail.
The Paloma: a lesser-known tequila cocktail is the Paloma. All you need for this cocktail is tequila, lime juice, and some grapefruit soda for a sour kick and a gentle pink hue.
There are so many things that you can do with tequila that it is hard to believe that it all comes from a beautiful blue agave plant in the heart of Mexico.
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