What is Tequila Liquor Made From

What is Tequila Liquor Made From

As far back as the first century AD, Tequila liquor, in some form or the other, has been made from the local agave plant. The name Tequila derives from the name Ticuilas, which referred to a local Indian tribe discovered by the Spanish who landed in Mexico back in the sixteenth century.

Nowadays, authentic tequila liquor is made only from a species of agave called the Blue Agave plant, and primarily only in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Mezcal, which is similar, may be made from any of several agave plants.

The plant is matured for a decade or more, then stripped of its flower and grown fat, then diced. The pieces are baked in steam ovens to convert plant starches into sugars, which are part of the extracted juice. Mezcal, by contrast, is baked in charcoal ovens, giving it a more full-bodied flavor. The liquid is fermented, then distilled.

The result is generally around fifty five percent ABV or alcohol by volume. The other key figure to watch for is the percent of agave. The finest tequilas are fermented 100% agave juice while others may be diluted by as much as half. The latter is called a mixto, which may or may not be noted on the bottle. However, 100% pure will be labeled as such.

The spirit itself is a pure, clear liquid with colored tequilas acquiring their amber or yellowish cast predominantly from added caramel. That additive is not necessarily a sign of poorer quality and a small quantity of the tint may be the result of aging in oak casks, which, like whiskey and other liquors, lends overtones to the drink.

Nevertheless, and unlike whiskey, scotch or bourbon, long-term aging is not generally done and neither is it a mark of excellence. Aging tequilas more than a few years causes the vegetal flavors to become overwhelmed. Many high quality tequilas actually see much less, a few months at most, some going straight into the bottle. Silver or Blanco tequilas will usually age no more than sixty days and that in stainless steel barrels. However, they are often intended to be used in mixed drinks only.

The casks used, not surprisingly, have an influence on the flavor of the final output. Many use once-used Bourbon casks, which are typically American Oak, sometimes charred on the inside. Others may use casks used to age sherry, which produces a slightly different result.

The careful spectator can readily make out all these notes in fine tequila, since there is little else to mask the aromas. Some tequilas, though, have been pre-blended with fruits, sherry or even prune concentrate, making it harder to detect some of the subtleties.

There is also no crime in using even the finest tequila to make a cocktail. After all, the point is to enjoy and how better to make a great mixed drink than starting with the finest ingredients?