The history of tequila is both long and rich due to the fact that it was North America’s first distilled drink as well its first commercially produced alcohol. Tequila’s roots stretch all the way back into pre-Hispanic times when the natives fermented sap from the local maguey plants (a species of the agave plant) into a beer-like drink called pulque. When the Spanish conquistadors came over and ran out of their own brandy, they began to distill this agave drink. Time went on and it wasn’t long before tequila transformed into how we know it today.
Tequila gained national importance during the Revolution when the desire for French products was replaced by a patriotic passion for Mexican goods. Tequila’s popularity was boosted further in the USA when it was smuggled across the border during Prohibition. During World War II, the desire for this Mexican spirit increased again in the USA after spirits from Europe became more difficult to obtain.
TEQUILA VS. MEZCAL
People often think tequila and mezcal are the same but here are three main differences:
Tequila can only be made (by law) with one variety of agave: the Blue Agave where mezcal can be made from over 30 varieties of Agave.
Tequila and mezcal are produced in different states of Mexico. Tequila is made in 5 specific regions with Jalisco being the center of the tequila universe and is where the the town of Tequila is located. Mezcal on the other hand is made in 8 specific regions of Mexico with Oaxaca being the center of the mezcal world.
The production process for tequila is different from mezcal, which leads to a distinctly different smoky flavor for mezcal.
There are three basic varieties of tequila. Blanco is fresh from the distilling process with no barrel aging therefore, it’s clear/white. It’s most suitable for use in cocktails.
Reposado has been aged in oak barrels for few months but always less than one year. It has a light golden color with a mild smoky/oak flavor. It’s suitable for shots, cocktails, and sipping.
Añejo has been aged in an oak barrel for a few years and is deep golden brown. It is the most expensive and should be drunk similar to Scotch – neat or on the rocks.
When buying tequila, the most important thing to do is pay close attention to the label. Many bottles barely qualify as tequila and have cheaper spirits mixed in. if you want real Tequila, make sure to look for a bottle that says 100% Blue Agave on it. And remember the more you pay doesn’t always mean a higher quality or better taste.
Tequila is a unique and special spirit and has similar regional production protections to French Champagne, Kentucky Bourbon, and Scotch Whiskey. It’s also one of the only spirits that retains significant flavor from the plant in which it was distilled, rather than just acquiring the sugars as rums, vodkas, and whiskeys do.
If you’d like to set up a tequila tasting while in Los Cabos, please contact us ThompsonEvent.com