Get some sliced of lemon…and little bit of salt….and cheers……

Tequila: Fire Water Deluxe

In the past decade, tequila has captured the hearts of drinkers around the world with the wide availability of high-quality product. Tequila’s popularity in America, of course, began when the Margarita became the unofficial cocktail of the U.S. many years back. The majority of the tequilas used, though, were mediocre in quality at best, with gold tequilas being the fastest selling and most popular (they remain that way to this day). Today, a wide variety of 100% Blue Agave tequilas have hit the scene, probably infringing on the single malt scotch market that exploded in the 1980s, offering the discriminating imbiber a spirit to rival the finest Cognac.

Definition and Origins

Tequila comes from the distillation of the fermented sap of the Weber Blue Agave plant (a relative of the lily or amaryllis). The agaves are ideally harvested at maturity, 5 to 8 years old (these carry the most juice), cut in half and cooked in ovens known as Hornos or Autoclaves. Once thoroughly cooked, the agaves are milled and mixed with water and yeast. The
mixture is left to ferment and then distilled, usually twice, in pot or column stills.

In its earliest incarnation, tequila was born through the ingenuity of the Spanish Conquistadors who invaded Mexico in the early 16th century. The Conquistadors, having only a limited supply of brandy on their voyage, were forced to look elsewhere for their potable beverage. The solution came with the distillation of the local pulque, a low proof wine of the Maguey or Agave plant which was used mainly by Aztec priests during rituals and by captured warriors just before their execution. This distillate came to be known as Mezcal brandy, then simply Mezcal. Eventually, it became known that the finest of these Mezcals came from the region in and around the town of Tequila, thus the Tequila designation of Mezcal was born. To simpify the relationship between the two, simply remember Tequila is to Mezcal as Cognac is to brandy.

Tequila Designations

Mixto – Tequila made with at least 51% agave, with sugars, caramel, and other neutral spirit usually added. This is the most inexpensive way to produce tequila and the most popular. They are what blended scotches are too single malt scotches.

100% Blue Agave – Designated 100% Blue Agave and will say so on the bottling. This represents the finest expression of the spirit. The Blue Agave plant is considered the finest of over 100 living species of agave today and was discovered and designated by a German botantist named Weber. Thus, the designation: Weber Blue Agave

Styles of Tequila

Silver or Blanco – These tequilas are unaged, but can sit in tanks for up to 60 days. This style carries the truest flavor of the Blue Agave and is usually fresh, spicy, and fruity. Ideal for a fresh lime Margarita.

Reposado – Tequilas that been aged 2 to 11 months in oak or wooden casks. This is the most popular tequila among the Mexican people. The aging smoothes out a few of the rougher edges found in most silver or blanco tequilas.

Añejo – Tequila aged more than 1 year. Exceptionally smooth and best drunk on their own to appreciate the flavor and craftsmanship.

Founded in 1873, Tequila Sauza comes a close second in overall popularity to Jose Cuervo. Sauza was the first tequila imported into the United States and carries a fantastic reputation in the industry. Its gold tequila gives Jose Cuervo a run for its money in many parts of the country and its premium reposado Hornitos is one of the best premium mixing tequilas in the world. Sauza is also known for several other premium tequilas including the Sauza Tres Generaciones Añejo; a rich and complex aged tequila.

Hornitos Reposado
Aged up to 6 mos. Rich and clean with notes of citrus and peppermint, many consider Hornitos to be one of the finest Margarita tequilas anywhere.
Tasting Notes: A light-bodied palate of peppermint, tropical fruit and spice lead to a slightly warm and creamy finish.

A widely popular mixto tequila aged in Bourbon casks.
Tasting Notes: A round and full-bodied tequila with lots of oak, vanilla, and hints of raisin. Nice, but certainly not the most complex tequila on the market.

Don Julio
Started in 1942 by Don Julio Gonzalez, Don Julio has the reputation of crafting some the world’s finest 100% Blue Agave tequilas, most notably a beautiful silver, 6-month-old reposado, and a 16-month añejo.

This bad boy goes straight into the bottles without any rest.
Tasting Notes: Clear, formidable and bright with notes of sweet earth and bracing minerality. Medium-bodied with touches of stone fruit and dried flowers. A touch of green pepper and vanilla bean.

A rich and gorgeous expression of the añejo style. Aged in white oak barrels from Kentucky.
Tasting Notes: Smooth and rich. Clean and dry, with a sweet touch of wild honey. The citrus aroma has hints of lime, grapefruit and mandarin. It is a truly spectacular sipping tequila.

A boutique-style tequila made at La Gonzaleña distillery in the state of Tamaulipas. One of the few ultra-premium tequilas made outside the state of Jalisco where most of the world’s tequila is made.

An extraordinarily pure expression of silver tequila bottled 30 days after distillation.
Tasting Notes: Light and delicious aromas of pear, quince, dill and lime lead to a firm palate of clean 100% Blue Agave.

Corazon harvests its agaves from the large sweet agaves of the Arandas Highlands. These tequilas are estate-grown, meaning Corazon has complete control over the tequila-making process from new growth to bottling.

Aged in new Canadian oak for up to one year.
Tasting Notes: Medium-bodied. Clean, spicy, and woody with a complex layering of dry fruits, red bell pepper, and caramel. Toasted aromas and a great creamy feel.

Aged 2 years in new Canadian oak.
Tasting Notes: Sweet and floral nose leads to a palate with a round, supple attack ending in a medium- to full-bodied taste of rich caramel, brown spice, and grilled fruit. Gorgeous balance.

Don Eduardo
A triple-distilled tequila from the La Mexicana distillery in the state of Jalisco.
Silver The world’s first triple-distilled silver tequila.

Tasting Notes: The nose is fresh, vegetal, and pine-like; aeration allows the pine/cedar scent to dominate the latter nosing phase. The palate entry is sweet and sap-like, almost honeyed. At mid-palate, the flavor profile turns bittersweet and bean-like. Ends well with taste flashes of cocoa bean and linseed oil. A solidly made silver that’s fresh and intensely agave-like (F. Paul
Pacult, Spirit Journal, December 2004).

Uniquely rested for eight months in 100-year-old vats crafted from Oregon pine.
Tasting Notes: Delicate opening perfume is softly herbal and peppery; aeration opens up the aroma to include scents of steamed asparagus, cocoa bean, and light toffee. Luscious, structured palate entry; at mid-palate the flavor explodes to feature flavors of dark chocolate, honey, tar, and uncooked vegetables. Sophisticated, yet borderline feral in the mouth. A superb reposado
(Wine Enthusiast, May 2005).

El Tesoro
Totally estate grown and noted to be the last “handcrafted tequila on earth.” The bitter part of the stem is hand-removed on each agave to insure that only the purest and sweetest part of the plant makes it to distillation. The agaves are hand-crushed with a one-ton stone roller as they were a century ago, and what finally sets El Tesoro apart is that, unlike any other tequila in the world, it is distilled to proof.

Bottled within 24 hours of distillation.
Tasting Notes: Exceptionally fresh flavors of the blue agave plant are captured in this tequila. Fruit and pepper with a touch of smoke.

Eight to 11 months in oak casks.
Tasting Notes: Absolutely delicious with funky touches of smoky agave, oak, vegetable, and a quandary of spices.

Aged up to 3 years in ex-bourbon-barrels.
Tasting Notes: An Intense oak and vanilla nose leads to a full palate of nutmeg, grilled pineapple, and smoke, followed by a slightly dry finish.
Patron Probably today’s best known and most sought-after ultra-premium tequilas. Produced in a small family-owned distillery high in the Jalisco Mountains and double distilled in copper pot stills. Its unusually high price point reflects their alleged incomparable standards in agave selection.

Possibly the world’s most well known ultra-premium tequila.
Tasting Notes: Clean flavors of fresh agave with a touch of pepper and pineapple. Finishes extraordinarily smooth for a silver.

A careful blend of aged tequilas which, like fine wines, are adjusted at each vintage.
Tasting Notes: Extraordinarily elegant. It has a voluminous bouquet and a palate rich with fruit and spice. This tequila finishes like a pleasant dream.

Jose Cuervo
Jose Cuervo is the oldest tequila producer in existence. Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo was granted land in 1758 by the King of Spain; on this land he began making his product. He received an official license in 1795 to produce the spirit. Jose Cuervo is currently the #1 tequila in the world.

Reserva de la Familia
First made in 1995 to commemorate Jose Cuervo’s 200th Anniversary, the remarkable sipper spends 3 years on French oak before reaching the bottle.
Tasting Notes: A full floral bouquet and rich with the flavors of nuts, vanilla and spice. The lingering finish is remarkably similar to Cognac.

The Mixologist’s Perspective: When people think of cocktails made with tequila, 99% of them immediately think of the Margarita and rightly so. Few mixologists have been brave enough to take “roads less traveled” with this spirit. For Margaritas, silver tequilas do an excellent job of balancing the fresh lime and orange liqueur, while reposados make a considerably mellower and more widely approachable version. Añejos have too much complexity and flavor to enjoy in most cocktails, but may well work for you. Just experiment. Tequila mixes well with fresh lime, lemon, orange, grapefruit, all kinds of berries, and tropical fruit purées.




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