The Space for Expatriates
While tequila is drunk throughout Mexico it is only produced and distilled in certain regions of Mexico. There are close to 1,000 certified brands and they are produced by 131 distilleries. There are two categories of tequila. The first category is 100% de Agave Tequila and the second is Tequila, which is often called Mixted (Mixto). There are five types of tequila within these categories: Blanco (Silver), Joven (Gold), Resposado (Aged), Añejo (Extra aged) and finally Extra Añejo (Ultra-aged).
In the two classifications or categories of Tequila, 100% agave Tequila - "Tequila 100% de agave" o "Tequila 100% puro de agave" is produced using only the sugars from the Weber blue agave. The second category is "Tequila" which is made using 51% agave sugars and 49% other sugars, and as stated above is called "mixto".
These two categories of tequila can be further divided into the following five types: Each type of tequila has distinct characteristics. It is NOT made from the cactus plant.
The Blue Agave plants can be grown anywhere in the state of Jalisco for the production of tequila. The production of tequila is legal in all areas of Jalisco and only four other states within Mexico. The states of Michoacan, Guanajuato and Nayarit border Jalisco. The fourth state, Tamaulipas, is on Mexico's Caribbean (Gulf) coast.
The word tequila is said to be an ancient Nahuatl term. The Nahuatl were the original people who lived in this area and the translation is "the place of harvesting plants."
Despite what you see in the movies and how many tourists are seen “shooting tequila”, i.e. with salt and lime where you gulp the tequila, lick the salt and suck on the lime. You will notice in restaurants and people’s homes that good tequila is a drink to be enjoyed like a fine cognac or wine. Sip by sip.
Tequilas vary from company to company and young tequilas are a bit rougher tasting with a more distinct agave flavor. Some drinkers prefer the sharper, almost peppery flavor of the middle-aged reposado and others prefer the smooth and woody aroma in an older añejo. Many of us here in Mexico, sip the tequila accompanied by a tomato based side glass of “sangrita”.Finally, that worm in the bottle is not a Mexican tradition but was first started in the 1940’s as a sales gimmick.