The story of tequila starts 3000 years ago when the “Olmecs” drank the fermented juice from the agave plant, often called pulque. The drink was only allowed to drink by priests, warriors, and sages as it was believed that pulque came from the gods, and therefore not common people. However, on ceremonial occasions the people were allowed to drink it.

From here we jump forward to the 16th century when the Spaniards arrive in Mexico and it develops. The Spaniards ran out of their own brandy and therefore tried the local drink, which they find too weak in alcohol percentages. They began distilling the pulque, a technique that was already known in Europe at the time. However, the distillate was in no way close to what we call tequila today, it contained far too many of the waste substances from the pulque and the alcohol percentage rarely reached above 9. Although the product was not the best, a lot was learned, such as how to boil the heart of the agave plant could secrete the juice from there. The distillate of this juice is called mezcal (in the language of the natives “agave heart”) which quickly became very popular.

In 1595, King Philip II of Spain outlawed the establishment of new vineyards in Mexico and other Spanish colonies. This was mainly because Mexico was self-sufficient in producing wine, and the king wanted to profit from the export of Spanish products to Mexico. Don Pedro Sánchez de Tagle took advantage of this when the blue agave plant had been neglected, and he built the first tequila factory. Today, he is known as the father of tequila.

It was only when José Maria Guadalupe Cuervo received permission from the King of Spain, Carlos IV, to produce tequila commercially in 1795 that tequila really became a reality. The drink then quickly became the national spirit of choice, and it was discovered that it could be further improved by using only the blue agave plant. Internationally, however, we have to wait until the Prohibition period from 1920 to 1933 before tequila made its breakthrough.

The production of tequila

Tequila is distilled from fermented juice (pulque) from the agave plant Agave Azul Tequilana Weber, which was named after the German botanist Franz Weber who categorized the flora of Mexico. The agave plant is also related to the lily, which means it is not a cactus.

It takes 8-10 years for the agave plant to grow mature and juicy enough for the production of tequila. The fruit is steamed, roasted or boiled to convert the starch in it into sugar, after which it is mashed and leached in water, which then creates the desired sugar syrup (aquamiel). To this sugar syrup, yeast simply needs to be added and then the fermentation is underway.

When the fermentation is over, the liquid must be distilled, and this is carried out in pot stills over two times, which means that the final product still contains a lot of flavor and character from the raw ingredients.

Classifications of tequila

There are two general classifications: mixto and 100% agave. 100% agave means that the tequila is made exclusively from blue agave and that only the agave sugar is used during fermentation. With mixto, on the other hand, you can also use cane sugar during the fermentation, the only requirement, however, is that 51% blue agave is used. Legally, caramel colour, oak extract, glycerin and sugar-based syrup can also be added to the mix.

In addition, there are another 5 categories for when the tequila comes in a bottle. They are reviewed below. By reading the label, you can read which classification the tequila belongs to.

Reviews tequila

Cocktails with tequila