Think you’re a tequila expert just because it’s your liquor of choice? If you want to be considered a tequila aficionado, there are some basic facts that you need to know before claiming that title.
First and foremost, you should know that the best tequila in the world comes from Mexico. Tequila has an “appellation of origin” just like champagne, cognac, and many wines. It can only be produced in five regions in Mexico — Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas; Jalisco is the largest producer of tequila in Mexico and is considered to be the birthplace of this much-loved liquor.
According to tequila experts, great tequila is made using great agave, the raw material used in the distillation of any award winning tequila. A great tequila should be 100% de agave, unlike the cheap versions or “mixtos” which can have as little as 51% of their alcohol coming from agave, the rest of other alcohols.
All about the agave
Good Mexican tequila must be produced from the hearts of the blue agave plant, and that plant needs to have been allowed to mature for a minimum of six years before it is harvested. After harvesting, the agave then undergoes the distilling process and afterwards is aged in barrels of steel or oak to produce the six different types of tequila: Blanco (or plata), Joven (or oro), Reposado, Anejo, Extra Anejo, and Curados.
Blanco or Plata is the youngest variety and is typically unaged or “rested” for a month or two before bottling. Joven or Oro are commonly unaged tequilas like blancos, but are given a golden hue from the addition of ingredients for coloring and flavoring. These types of tequilas are more commonly used to make cocktails.
Reposado is typically aged from sixty days to one year, and is best for making mixed drinks and for sipping. Anejo (aka vintage) is aged for one to three years, and Extra Anejo for at least three to four years in oak barrels. Anejos often have a toasty vanilla and citrus flavor while Extra Anejos have more of a smoky flavor.
Curados is a new category of tequilas that are flavored with natural ingredients such as lemon, orange, strawberry, pineapple, and pear.
According to tequila experts from Mexico, some of the best tequila brands from Mexico include Don Nacho Anejo and La Cava de Don Samuel Reposado tequila.
Getting the authentic tequila experience
If you’re going to claim the title of tequila aficionado, you need to know the proper way to taste tequila from Mexico, and it’s not by doing “shots.” Tequilas are always best when sipped, usually neat, to be able to taste the raw flavors of the spirits and to smell their aroma. Best tasting method? Swirl, sniff, sip, and swallow.
Best place to drink Mexican tequila? On one of Mexico’s beautiful beaches with old or new friends. For some fun in the sun on a secluded beach while sipping a great tequila at a 60s style beach bar in your very own hammock, check out the small town of Yelapa and some other secret vacation spots in Mexico. Salud!