2 Definitions & History Timeline tequila (n): distilled, fermented agave hearts produced in Tequila, Jalisco, MexicoMust be fermented from Agave tequilana (Blue Weber agave)“Tequila” is an internationally protected name like “cognac” or “champagne” certifying origin & production methodcp. Temequila from TemeculaAll tequila comes from 15 governmentt certified production facilities100 distilleries produce 2000 brand names (cp. rum)After distillation, tequila is legally allowed to be exported in bulk and bottled by foreign companiesSaves $ shipping, creates bottling jobsMust carry NOM: certification # of producer, distillery, yearTimeline1522 – Conquistadors invade Central America waging war on Aztecs & Incas. After their brandy runs out, they distill Aztec octli/pulque, making early tequila.c – Mass-produced distilled pulque centralizes around Tequila, Jalisco where the best agave grows.1608 – First tax on the new spirit!1656 – City of Tequila officially founded.c – Tequila exported to the United States2000s – TMA (“tristeza y muerte de agave”) causes large-scale agave shortage. Prices skyrocket and never really come down (cp. oil).
3 GeographyOriginally, tequila could only legally originate from Tequila, JaliscoIncreased demand caused agave from surrounding states of Tamaulipas, Guanajuato, Michoacan & Nayarit to be allowed.JaliscoDerived from Aztec word for “sandy surface”Mountainous region with many valleysTequila volcano erupted 200,000 years ago, leaving bed of volcanic soil now covered by sand.Sub-tropical climate2 main regionsArea around TequilaLa Tierra Negra → volcanic soilAgave matures in ~ 7 yearsLos Altos de JaliscoLa Tierra Roja → iron-rich soilAgave matures in 8-12 years
4 Production & Styles Agave Cultivation Tequila Production Styles Wild agave is a succulent plant that can grow 8 feet tall and can live up to 50 years. It reproduces by growing a shoot with flowers on the end up to 20 feet high. The flowers are then pollinated by a native bat, fertilizing thousands of seeds. The plant then dies.Tequila ProductionCommercial agave starts to grow its shoot after 5 years. The shoot is removed causing the heart or “piña” to grow larger, increasing the amount of sugar available for fermentation.“Jimadores” harvest the piña by hand. If harvested too soon, not enough sugar has been produced. If too late, the sugars have already been used to grow the shoot.Piñas are crushed to release the “musto” (cp. grape must) which is then fermented in oak or stainless steel and distilled 2-3 times.Tequila is then aged in oak (or not)StylesMixtos – 51% agave sugar by law; remaining 49% is made up of cheap glucose & fructose from any source.Puro de agave – made from 100% agave sugarsBlanco / Plata – “white” / “silver”Aged 0-2 monthsJoven – “young”Blended Blanco with Reposado or AñejoReposado – “rested”Aged 2-12 months in oakLarge oak barrels used (up to 20,000L)Añejo – “mature, aged”Aged 1-3 years in oakSmall oak barrels used (up to 600L)Extra AñejoAged more than 3 years in oakNew designation as of 2006