Cinco de Mayo is this Sunday and my favorite way to celebrate…tequila! From sombreros to Mezcal and everything in between, the 5th of May is a day we like to explore cuisine and culture from our neighbor to the South. But many are unaware of the true beauty and authenticity behind Tequila, the most recognized spirit of Mexico. With a history dating back to the days of the Aztecs, Tequila has a celebrated background that goes back as long as Mexico itself.
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Got some tequila questions but just too tipsy to ask? Courtesy of Tequila Partida, the world’s top-rated Tequila, winner of the Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2019 Chairman’s Trophy and by far one of my faves…here’s an essential tequila primer.
What exactly is Tequila?
The word “Tequila” has a number of meanings. It is the name of a town in the state of Jalisco in central Mexico. Tequila is also the name of the region where the spirit is made. And of course, Tequila is an alcoholic beverage made from the blue agave plant, and is also considered the “national drink of Mexico.”
What is Tequila made from?
Tequila is made from the agave plant. Agave is part of the lily family, and can grow up to 15 feet tall. Because of its prickly texture, many people assume that an agave plant is a cactus, but that’s not the case. And most importantly, the blue agave plant is the source of all premium Tequila.
Tequila vs. Mezcal
Tequila is a type of Mezcal made in the Tequila region of Mexico with strict production designations specific to the region. Only a few states have production rights. Mezcal may be produced from nearly 30 different varieties of agave, while Tequila is made exclusively from Blue Agave.
Americans Drink More Tequila Than Any Other Nation
The U.S. is the top market in the world for Tequila, above even Mexico. Agave-based spirits are one of the fastest-growing drinks categories in the country. Their consumption was up 9% in the US last year and is projected to continue growing in the coming years.
The Different Types of Tequila
There are multiple types of Tequila with different aging. These are typically referred to as “marques.” Brands usually have a Blanco (sometimes called Plata or Silver) which is unaged, Reposado which is aged between 2 and 11 months, and Añejo, which is aged for at least one year. Some brands also have an Extra Añejo Tequila, which is aged at least three years and a Cristalino Tequila, which is an añejo that has been filtered (usually through charcoal) to remove its color. Aging generally takes place in wood barrels.