Tequila [teˈkila] is a regional specific name for a distilled beverage made from the cactus-like 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 northwestern Mexican state of Jalisco. Although tequila is a kind of mezcal, modern tequila differs somewhat in the method of its production, in the use of only blue agave plants, as well as in its regional specificity.
The red volcanic soil in the surrounding region is particularly well suited to the growing of the blue agave, and more than 300 million of the plants are harvested there each year. Agave tequila 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. Agaves harvested in the lowlands, on the other hand, have a more herbaceous fragrance and flavor.
Mexican law states that tequila can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and in selected municipalities in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. 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.
Tequila is most often made at a 38–40% alcohol content (76–80 U.S. proof), but can be produced between 31-55% alcohol content (62 and 110 U.S. proof).
Types of Tequila
The two basic categories of tequila are mixtos and 100% agave. Mixtos use no less than 51% agave, with other sugars making up the remainder. Mixtos use both glucose and fructose sugars.
Tequila is usually bottled in one of five categories:
- Blanco ("white") or plata ("silver"): White spirit, unaged and bottled or stored immediately after distillation, or aged less than two months in stainless steel or neutral oak barrels.
- Joven ("young") or oro ("gold"): Unaged silver tequila that may be flavored with caramel coloring, oak extract, glycerin, or sugar-based syrup. Could also be the result of blending silver tequila with aged and/or extra-aged tequila.t is also known as gold tequila because of the golden or rich light brown color that the liquor has because of flavoring agents such as sugar, glycerin, oak tree extracts, and caramel coloring before bottled.
- Reposado ("rested"): Aged a minimum of two months, but less than a year, in oak barrels of any size.This gold-colored spirit is typically aged in white oak and French oak barrels where resins and tannins shape the flavor of the tequila.
- Añejo ("aged" or "vintage"): Aged a minimum of one year, but less than three years, in small oak barrels.
- Extra Añejo ("extra aged" or "ultra aged"): Aged a minimum of three years in oak barrels, this category was established in March 2006.
With 100% agave tequila, blanco or plata is harsher, with the bold flavors of the distilled agave up front, while reposado and añejo are smoother, subtler, and more complex. As with other spirits aged in casks, tequila takes on the flavors of the wood, while the harshness of the alcohol mellows.
Brands of Tequila
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