What is real Mexican tequila?

Answered by Roy Gibson

Real Mexican is a spirit that is derived from the blue agave plant, which is native to Mexico. The production of tequila is deeply rooted in Mexican culture and tradition, and it is something that the Mexican people take great pride in.

To be considered a good tequila, it must be made from at least 51 percent blue agave, according to Mexican law. This means that the majority of the sugars used in the fermentation process must come from the blue agave plant. However, many tequila brands in Mexico go above and beyond this requirement and choose to make their tequila from 100 percent blue agave.

The use of 100 percent blue agave in tequila production is widely regarded as a mark of quality and authenticity. It ensures that the tequila has a pure and distinct flavor profile that is unique to the blue agave plant. This is because the blue agave plant contributes its own natural sugars, which result in a smoother and more complex taste.

I have had the privilege of visiting tequila distilleries in Mexico and witnessing the process firsthand. It is truly fascinating to see how the blue agave plants are harvested and cooked to extract the sugars needed for fermentation. The piñas, which are the heart of the agave plant, are cooked in traditional ovens or autoclaves to convert the starches into sugars.

After the cooking process, the piñas are crushed to extract the , which is then fermented and distilled to create tequila. The distillation process is crucial in determining the quality of the final product. It helps to remove impurities and concentrate the flavors, resulting in a smooth and well-balanced tequila.

Real Mexican tequila is also known for its aging process. While some tequilas are bottled immediately after distillation, others are aged in oak to enhance their flavors and add complexity. The aging process can range from a few months to several years, and it greatly influences the character of the tequila.

There are different types of tequila based on their aging period. Blanco or silver tequila is unaged and bottled immediately after distillation. It has a fresh and vibrant flavor with distinct agave notes. Reposado tequila is aged for a minimum of two months but less than a year, giving it a smoother and more mellow taste. Añejo tequila is aged for at least one year, resulting in a rich and complex flavor profile. Extra añejo tequila is aged for a minimum of three years, and it is the most mature and full-bodied expression of tequila.

In addition to the production process, the region in which the blue agave is grown also plays a significant role in the flavor and quality of the tequila. The Tequila region in Mexico, which includes the states of Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas, is known for producing some of the finest tequilas in the world. The volcanic soil and ideal climate of this region provide optimal conditions for the growth of the blue agave plant, resulting in tequilas with unique terroir characteristics.

It is worth noting that not all agave produced in Mexico can be called tequila. Tequila has a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), which means that it can only be produced in specific regions of Mexico using blue agave. This designation ensures that tequila maintains its authenticity and quality.

Real Mexican tequila is a spirit that is derived from the blue agave plant and made with at least 51 percent blue agave. However, many tequila brands choose to make their tequila from 100 percent blue agave to ensure a higher quality and distinct flavor profile. The production process, aging, and the region in which the blue agave is grown all contribute to the authenticity and uniqueness of Mexican tequila. So, the next time you enjoy a sip of tequila, take a moment to appreciate the craftsmanship and tradition that goes into making this iconic Mexican spirit.