What is Tequila?

What is Tequila? - Spirits of France

How is Tequila Made?

Tequila is believed to have originated in the 1600s when the Spanish colonists invaded South America. Don Pedro Sánchez de Tagle started the first-ever distillery in the region now known as Tequila, Jalisco.

Tequila is a beloved addition to many different cocktails. It often features in cocktails such as Paloma’s, Margarita’s, and obviously, Tequilas Sunrises. However, not all Tequila is made the same.

According to the Mexican government, the best Tequila is only allowed to be produced in Mexico. Even then, it is only allowed to be made in certain regions such as Nayarit, Jalisco, Michoacán, and Tamaulipas.


What Plant is Tequila Made From?

Tequila is made from a plant known as the Weber blue agave, also known as agave tequilana. Weber blue agave is a big succulent with distinctive spiked, long leaves. Some even say that it is quite similar in looks to aloe vera.

Weber blue agave is a member of the rather large Asparagaceae family. Yes, you guessed it! This makes it a distant relative of asparagus!

Agave’s subfamily, known as Agavoideae, is related to other plants such as hyacinths, yucca plants, and the Joshua Tree.

At the very core of the blue agave plant is a bulb known as the piña. This is what is used when creating Tequila. According to many people, tequila must be made from a minimum of 51 percent Weber blue agave.

As well as this spiky plant, Tequila must contain a minimum of 35 percent alcohol by volume. It must also undergo two rounds of distillation to ensure that the impurities are removed to create the final spirit.

Premium Tequila, on the other hand, must be made from 100 percent Weber blue agave. Tequilas that feature far lesser percentages often contain additives such as corn syrup, molasses, and other sugars to make up for the lack of agave nectar.


The Process of Making Tequila

Tequila production can essentially be broken into six crucial stages. Harvesting, baking, juicing, fermenting, distilling, and last but not least, aging. Let’s take a more in-depth look!

  1. Harvesting- It all begins with the harvesting process. A special knife, known as a coa, is used to cut the leaves of the plant away from the precious piña bulb.
  2. Baking- Next up is baking. The piña bulb is baked so that you can extract the fermentable sugars. Nowadays, they are baked in large clay, brick, or stainless-steel ovens.
  3. Juicing- After the piñas have been baked, it is time to crush, shred, and juice them. This is done to extract the sweet juice inside.
  4. Fermenting- The next part of the process involved fermenting the mosto into ethyl alcohol. This is what causes it to become a spirit.
  5. Distilling- Now, the distilling process. This process purifies the liquid and concentrates the alcohol. Usually, premium Tequila is distilled twice.
  6. Aging- Most often, Tequila is aged for 14 to 21 days. While silver or blanco tequila is only aged for the minimum time, aged tequila often takes on a far longer aging process. Some tequilas even age for over three years!


Is All Tequila Made in Mexico?

Yes, but no! Mexico is the only place in the world where tequila can be made. This means that Mexican tequila is the only true/legitimate Tequila available.

Even within Mexico, there are very few regions in which the spirit can be called tequila. Even if it is made the same or still created from the Weber blue agave plant, it cannot be named tequila unless made in the specific regions where tequila is allowed to be properly produced.

Any other alcohol made from Weber blue agave outside of the named areas is not actually tequila. Well, not legally anyway. Spirits outside of the regions that are made with weber blue agave are often labeled as something that is far less appetising than Tequila.

In fact, they are often called ‘spirits produced/distilled from 100% blue agave’. There have been attempts throughout time to name non-tequilas in order to capture the attention of unsuspecting customers. However, it is important to note that these liquids are not Tequila.

To consume the best Tequila, it must be made in the specific regions in Mexico. If you’re really looking to enjoy a sip or two of the best tequila, you need to make sure you are purchasing legitimate tequila that is made in Mexico. Otherwise, you really aren’t drinking real Tequila.


Why is There a Worm in Tequila?

While many people opt to buy Tequila because of the worm, real Tequila doesn’t actually contain a worm. If you’re purchasing a liquid being sold as Tequila with a worm in, you’re not buying tequila, you’re buying mezcal.

You may be wondering what the difference is. Well, Tequila consists of at least 51%. However, Mezcal, on the other hand, must be made of 100% agave.

On top of this, Mezcal is a smoky and aromatic spirit while Tequila is far more robust. In the 1950s, a Mexican Mezcal maker started the legend of the Tequila worm when he discovered a moth larvae in a batch of Mezcal. After trying it, he concluded that having the worm in the bottle actually improved the taste of the drink.

He then went forth and placed a worm in each individual bottle as a unique marketing strategy. Manufacturers along the way began to do the same thing due to the popularity of this excellent marketing strategy. Nowadays, Tequila itself does not contain a worm. 

In fact, it is prohibited by the Mexican Standards.


What Are The Best Tequilas?

If you’re currently looking for the best Tequila on the market, you don’t have to look very far. As we have the very best tequila right here! Don Fulano and Clase Azul are two of the best brands you’ll find!

Both authentic Tequilas, rich in flavor, culture and design. Explore the Tequila range at Spirits of France now!


Who is Spirits of France?

Spirits of France is a Melbourne based online liquor and Spirits store, founded in 2009. After starting with primarily French products, Spirits of France has expanded to selling Australian, and global spirits. No longer just French products. Learn more about us by clicking here!