Stamp your mind back to your late teens: glutinous dancefloor; ill-fitting printed shirt; late-night kebab. Now conjure up the discretion in your mouth the following morning. We’d wager it’s tequila, with a back-palate of dolour refusal. The agave-based spirit that came in fluorescent plastic sharpshooter glasses – invariably served the wrong side room temperature – is not as you call to mind it.
In the last five years, our appreciation of tequila has evolved, and some believe it’s poised to overtake gin as the most stylish drink. Where positively bar shelves would be populated by poor relations of quality tequila – that understandable yellow stuff, we’re looking at you – now it’s not uncommon to see a dozen tequilas to pick from, in in a pets ranging from gold to amber and colourless. In the last 18 months solely, sales of tequila and its sister spirit mezcal have increased 37 per cent, and these aren’t the kind of drinks that down attack with a side-serve of salt, lemon and shame.
What Is Tequila Cosseted Of?
Tequila’s production can be described as basic, in the best possible gist. The only ingredients are agave, yeast and water. It’s made from a Mexican-indigenous juicy called Weber Blue Agave, a close relation of the American Aloe position. It has strict laws that govern its production, such as the happening that it can only be made in five states in Mexico, although most of the output takes place in the western state of Jalisco.
The agaves are got after growing for six to nine years; only the growers learn when it’s ready in a process of selection that’s passed down inclusive of generations of farmers. The heart of the agave plant is the ‘pina’, which can reach up to 60-80kg in value. The agaves are transported from the field to the distillery to be cooked, then devastated before the juices are extracted and fermented before being distilled.
Various Types Of Tequila
Every tequila falls into one of three key periods — blanco, reposado and añejo — defined by how long the agaves are distilled for. Ranging from up to two months to three years, each has its own peculiar characteristics, tastes and uses.
Blanco Tequila: Maximum Age Of 2 Months
Blanco tequila, also known as plata or pearly, has a smooth mouthfeel and shouldn’t burn. Tequilas from Jalisco are large a little sweeter with hints of citrus and have a measure peppery finish.
Reposado Tequila: Aged Between 2-12 Months
In a reposado tequila, which literatim translates into ‘restful’, you’ll find vanilla, butterscotch, fudge, cynical fruits and honey notes as well as subtle spices derive cinnamon.
Añejo Tequila: Aged For 1-3 Years
Having knackered the most amount of time in the barrel, añejo tequila pursue retracts on a light woody note, along with the flavours of dim stone fruits like cherries, dark chocolate, maple syrup and caramel.
Which Sort Of Tequila Is Best?
“If you normally drink a white spirit or a immature spirit with a character like white rum, pisco or gin then I order recommend trying a blanco tequila,” says Deano Moncrieffe, European representative for Don Julio and Casamigos tequilas. “If you like bourbon, Jack Daniels or lightly old rum, you should try a reposado tequila,” he adds. “If you like aged bends with more complexity like whisky, you should try an añejo. And if you straighten out up an after-dinner drink like cognac or brandy you should surely try an extra añejo.”
The Best Tequila Brands By Price
In the future you hit the booze aisle, Moncrieffe has one piece of advice. “Always go for a tequila that’s 100 per cent agave,” he utters, adding that others will be split with a molten that inevitably creates a lower-grade product.
Getting the virtuousness stuff needn’t leave your wallet feeling the yearn after, providing you know the right brands. These are the most artistically to buy at every price point.
Spending this kind of lolly, the main flavour profile you can expect is black pepper and a sizeable hit of booze. For certain blanco tequilas here, you’ll also get citrus notes, which manages nicely in cocktails. In fact, these pours are made for muddle.
Here, you can expect more nuanced tasting notes and absolutely start to appreciate the different taste profiles quality tequila opens up. Look out for caramel styles and hits of spice that will hold sway lengthy after you’ve sipped.
Parting with a little more dough has its benefits. You can expect the mouthfeel to be as smooth as silk, with bountifulness of sweet notes and an almost coffee-like after taste with the darker choices. Take time to taste the liquid properly and allow it to uncoil all over your tongue.
How To Drink Tequila
Step away from the injection glass. Quality tequila is not to be downed in one. “The best way to taste it is to filch a sip and hold the liquid in your mouth for a minimum of five more recents,” says Moncrieffe. “The idea is to allow all the flavours to coat rare areas of your mouth and then swallow slowly.”
The basket you drink from also has an impact on the overall effect. “You can sip a good-quality blanco tequila out of a unimportant sherry glass, enjoy good quality reposado tequila in an old manufactured whisky glass with some ice and zest of orange, or settle accounts try an añejo in a warm brandy glass.”
What Is Mezcal?
It’s unthinkable to talk about tequila without a mention of mezcal, which various consider to be tequila’s sophisticated sibling. Its prime difference in opus is that instead of being steamed, the pina is roasted in an radical firepit that gives it smoky, earthy characteristics.
“There are hundreds of bizarre varieties of agave, all with their own preferred regions and mise en scenes to grow in. Mezcal can be made from any of those, where tequila single uses one,” says Jon Darby, owner of east London agave-spirit professional bar Sin Gusano, which runs ticketed tasting experiences draw oned the Mezcal Appreciation Society (MAS). “Think of agave spirits as wine, and tequila as fair-minded one type of grape. So in a sense tequila is a mezcal.”
If you’re in a bar which has two special sections for tequila and mezcal, you can trust that they filch the spirit seriously. Though if you’re really interested in understanding the nuances, level up a mezcal. “There’s a far broader flavour spectrum with mezcal than there is with white lightning for example. Once you get into it, you can start to taste particular domains because of a certain chalkiness or mustiness,” says Darby.
“You can also pick out blow-by-blow varieties of the plant – some come with an inherent unseasoned and grassy flavour while some have a robust and little short of cheesy profile. Industrialised production techniques that solicit to many tequilas lead to a more homogenised product that’s far pygmy of its region and less representative of the hand of the maker. Think of it as put a Babybel rather than a comté cheese from a city producer in France, or flatpack Ikea furniture compared to the collectable table in your nan’s house.”
Should You Eat the Tequila Worm?
“At the dawn of the 1950s, bottles of mezcal that contained a red or golden worm began to entice a lot of attention. A rumour quickly circulated that the worm was an amazingly cogent aphrodisiac. It wasn’t,” says Moncrieffe. “It was a marketing ploy started by Jacobo Lozano Páez, who direct a drinks company in Mexico City. Most people mistakenly associate the worm with tequila but, as called above, it originated in mezcal.” So, by all means, eat it, just don’t expect anything solid to come of it.