It's July 24th grab a lime and the salt. It’s National Tequila Day!
Tequila was first produced in the 16th century near the location of the city of Tequila, which was not officially established until 1666. A fermented beverage from the agave plant known as pulque was consumed in pre-Columbian central Mexico before European contact. 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 Galiciahad 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.
Similar to wine making…
Although some tequilas have remained as family-owned brands, most well-known tequila brands are owned by large multinational corporations. However, over 100 distilleries make over 900 brands of tequila in Mexico and over 2,000 brand names have been registered (2009 statistics). Due to this, 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.
A 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.
Similar to fine wine, fine taquilla can be highly collectible…
A one-liter bottle of limited-edition premium tequila was sold for $225,000 in July 2006 in Tequila, Jalisco, by the company Tequila Ley .925. The bottle which contained the tequila was a two-kilo display of platinum and gold. The manufacturer received a certificate from The Guinness World Records for the most expensive bottle of tequila spirit ever sold.
If silver or white tequila is the desired final product, distillation is the final process it undergoes. Rested (Reposado) or aged (Añejo) tequila must be matured in 200-liter (or larger) white oak barrels for at least 2 months for the first, and 12 months for the last. There are, however, more than 50 different companies producing tequila in the mexican province of Jalisco, with different maturation times according to the variety of tequila and desired quality of the final product.
All companies producing tequila have their aging processes regulated and fiscalized by the Mexican government.
French or American Oak Barrels?
Taquilla may be rested in oak barrels or casks as large as 20,000 liters (5,280 gallons), allowing for richer and more complex flavors. The preferred oak comes from the US, France, or Canada, and is usually white oak. Some companies char the wood to impart a smoky flavor, or use barrels previously used with different kinds of alcohol (e.g. whiskey or wine). Some Taquilla can also be aged in new wood barrels to achieve the same woody flavor and smoothness, but in less time.
Aging can be 1 to 5 years.
In Mexico, the most traditional way to drink tequila is neat, without lime and salt. It is popular in some regions to drink fine tequila with a side of sangrita—a sweet, sour, and spicy drink typically made from orange juice, grenadine (or tomato juice), and hot chilli. Equal-sized shots of tequila and sangrita are sipped alternately, without salt or lime.Another popular drink in Mexico is the bandera(flag, in Spanish), named after the Flag of Mexico, it consists of three shot glasses, filled with lime juice (for the green), white tequila, and sangrita (for the red).
Most famous drink is the Margarita and our favorite recipe is…
Ingredients: 2 oz Tequila, 1 oz Lime juice, 1 oz Cointreau
Preparation: Rub the rim of the glass with the lime slice to make the salt stick to it. Shake the other ingredients with ice, then carefully pour into the glass (taking care not to dislodge any salt). Garnish and serve over ice.
Served: On the rocks; poured over ice
Standard garnish: Lime slice, Salt on the rim
Drinkware: Margarita Glass
Happy Taquilla Day!