Tequila isn’t just for Mexico anymore. It’s become part of the American culture, too. S. Since 2002, tequila sales have grown by 92%. And, the sales of premium tequila have gone up along with the sales. So, “Salud” – here are 8 things to know about tequila.
1. It Goes To The Heart – of the blue agave. Other agave plants can be used to make other mezcal drinks (yes, tequila is a mezcal), but only the heart of the blue agave – where the “honey water” or aguamiel is found – can be used to make tequila.
2. Sorry, It’s Not Psychedelic. Back in the day (the mid-20th century) there was uptick in sales when Californians thought it had psychedelic properties. They were just confused (by psychedelics or drinking the tequila). They were confusing mezcal with mescaline.
3. It’s A Diamond In The Rough. Literally! Scientists at the National Autonomous University of Mexico know how to make an artificial diamond out of tequilas. Unfortunately, the diamonds are too small for use in jewelry but they do have electronic and industrial applications.
4. You Gotta Have Heart – and the blue agave does! The heart (pĩna) of the blue agave can weigh as much as 200 pounds and is usually in the 80 to 200-pound range. The blue agave bares its heart. It’s stripped of its leaves and then cooked to remove the sap which is then fermented and distilled.
5. Drink It Up – or it will become very much like a bourbon. An unopened bottle of tequila has a shelf life of years, but when you open it you have to drink it within 1 to 2 months or the quality will be lowered. Keep waiting and it will be more like a bourbon.
5. Does It Get Its Fire From A Volcano? It’s entirely possible! Premium tequilas may be made using the ancient techniques. That involves crushing the shredded and cooked agave with a 2-ton volcanic stone wheel and then fermenting in pine wood casks (fibers included). It’s distilled with the fiber and then distilled again without the fiber. Finally, it’s balanced and filtered and distributed to tequila aficionados.
6. It Only Comes From One Place. Mexico has the corner and to be called a tequila, it must be produced in Mexico. Just as true champagne comes from France, tequilas comes from its motherland.
7. There’s More Than One! The first is made from the blue agave and only the blue agave. There are Tequila Mixto which is made from mixed plants. From there, you’ll find five types. They are Tequila Silver (also known as Blanco, Plata, White or Platinum), Tequila Gold (known as Joven or Oro), Tequila Reposado, Tequila Añejo (extra aged) and Tequila Extra Añejo (extra, extra aged).
When you go to your favorite Mexican food restaurant, don’t just order tequila or a tequila drink. Act like an expert and ask about the different varieties they have on their menu. You may find a new favorite and if you’re a chef-inspired Mexican restaurant you may find a new favorite dinner dish, too!