The History Of Tequila

Today in #CocktailCulture the history of Tequila, first produced in the 16th century near the location of the city of Tequila, which was not officially established until 1666. The Aztec people had previously made a fermented beverage from the agave plant, long before the Spanish arrived in 1521. When the Spanish conquistadors ran out of their own brandy, they began to distill agave to produce one of North America’s first indigenous distilled spirits.

Some 80 years later, around 1600, Don Pedro Sánchez de Tagle, the Marquis of Altamira, began mass-producing tequila at the first factory in the territory of modern-day Jalisco. By 1608, the colonial governor of Nueva Galicia had begun to tax his products. Spain’s King Carlos IV granted the Cuervo family the first license to commercially make tequila.

Don Cenobio Sauza, founder of Sauza Tequila and Municipal President of the Village of Tequila from 1884–1885, was the first to export tequila to the United States, and shortened the name from “Tequila Extract” to just “Tequila” for the American markets. Don Cenobio’s grandson Don Francisco Javier gained international attention for insisting that “there cannot be tequila where there are no agaves!” His efforts led to the practice that real tequila can come only from the State of Jalisco.

Tequila Herradura (officially Grupo Industrial Herradura) is a tequila distiller located in Amatitán, Jalisco, Mexico.
It was formally founded in 1870 by Félix López and the business remained in the family for over 125 years.
Each bottle of tequila contains a serial number (NOM) depicting in which distillery the tequila was produced. Because only so many distilleries are used, multiple brands of tequila come from the same location.

In 2003, a new Norma Oficial Mexicana (NOM) for tequila (NOM-006-SCFI-2005) was issued in 2006, and among other changes, introduced a class of tequila called extra añejo or “ultra-aged” which must be aged a minimum of three years.

The process and types of Tequilas, the jimadores must be able to tell when each plant is ready to be harvested, and using a special knife called a coa (with a circular blade on a long pole), carefully cut away the leaves from the piña (the succulent core of the plant).

After harvesting, the piñas are transported to ovens where they are slowly baked to be caramelized, the baked piñas are either shredded or mashed under a large stone wheel called a tahona.

The extracted agave juice “honey-water” (agua-miel) is then poured into either large wooden or stainless steel vats for several days to ferment, resulting in a wort, or mosto, with low alcohol content. This wort is then distilled once to produce what is called “ordinario, and then a second time to produce clear “silver” tequila. A few producers distill the product a third time, but this removes much of the agave flavor from the tequila. From there, the tequila is either bottled as silver tequila, or it is pumped into wooden barrels to age, where it develops a mellower flavor and amber color.

The two basic categories of tequila are mixtos and 100% agave. Mixtos use no less than 51% agave, with other sugars making up the remainder.

Tequila is usually bottled in one of five categories:
* Blanco (“white”) or plata (“silver”): white spirit, unaged and bottled or stored immediately after distillation, or aged less than two months in stainless steel or neutral oak barrels
* Joven (“young”) or oro (“gold”): unaged silver tequila that may be flavored with caramel coloring, oak extract, glycerin, or sugar-based syrup. Could also be the result of blending silver tequila with aged or extra-aged tequila.
* Reposado (“rested”): aged a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak barrels of any size
* Añejo (“aged” or “vintage”): aged a minimum of one year, but less than three years in small oak barrels
* Extra Añejo (“extra aged” or “ultra aged”): aged a minimum of three years in oak barrels, this category was established in March 2006.

 

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