Made from blue agave plants, tequila is a distilled spirit made only in five areas of Mexico. The drink got its name because it was made from agave plants grown in areas around the city of Tequila. Although there are 166 different species of agave with 125 of them found in Mexico, Weber blue commonly known as blue agave is only used for making tequila. To control the production procedure of Tequila, the Mexican government has imposed the strictest of regulations. Let us know more about Tequila.
Making Of Tequila
Blue agave plants take a minimum of 6 years for maturation but the plants in the highlands take up to 12 years to mature. Most of the time in tequila production is invested in agave cultivation rather than the aging process. When the blue agave plant reaches maturity, it produces a single flower before dying off. The agaves are harvested just when the plants start flowering by cutting off the shoots to preserve the heart of the plant known as piña.
The ripe hearts have an average weight of about 32 kg. Some could have weights as low as 10 kg while some may weigh up to 100 kg. The starch in the hearts is converted to fermentable sugar by slow roasting them either in traditional ovens called ‘hornos’ for about 24-48 hours or faster steam oven known as ‘autoclaves’ for about 7 hours.
After the hearts are cooked, they are pressed to release a sugary juice called aguamiel, which is then added to large fermentation tanks. Many distillers manually add yeast to the tanks while a small number of distillers still prefer the traditional method of fermentation by naturally occurring air-borne yeast.
The liquid is allowed to ferment in closed or open tanks made of wood or stainless steel for about 24-96 hours. The fermented liquid has about 6% alcohol content which is then distilled at least two times to produce 70 to 110 proof alcohol, the basic Tequila Blanco or silver tequila.
How To Serve Tequila?
The traditional way to drink tequila in Mexico is neat at room temperature. Drinking equal sized shots of tequila and sangrita is common in some regions. Sangrita is a traditional Mexican fruit drink made of pomegranate juice, lime juice, hot chili sauce and orange juice.
Cantarito is a popular mixed drink consumed in Jalisco, a Mexican state. The drink is made of grapefruit, fresh orange, tequila and lime juice.