Tequila- ‘its worth a shot’
Tequila is an unique Liquor. Some facts about this unusual drink
Tequila is a distilled beverage made from the Blue Agave plant. This ‘cactus like plant’ is used for centuries to make fermented beverages by the indigenous population of South America. It usually takes about 8 years before an Agave plant is mature enough to be harvested for the production of Tequila.
It gets its name from the city of Tequila, Mexico. It was here that the Spanish soldiers ran out brandy, and with the help of the locals they discovered that Agave could be fermented into even stronger liquor than one they were used to. Around 1600, the first Tequila factory came into being and Tequila entered the history books as one of North Americas first indigenous distilled spirits. The word Tequila is believed to be an ancient ‘Nahuati’ ( Mayan Language) term meaning ‘the place of the harvesting plants’.
Due to its historical and cultural importance this region was declared as an UNESCO world heritage site in 2006.
Jose Cuervo is recognised as the founder of of the first Tequila producing business in the world. He began his business in 1795 and started exporting to Europe and USA. King Carlos IV of Spain granted the first commercial license to the Cuervo family- a permission to legally produce Tequila. Today it is the best selling Tequila in the world.
Oak wood is usually used in barrels for the ageing Tequila. Not all Tequila are aged and never aged more than 3 years. The choice of barrel, the length of the aging process, or even whether to age the Tequila or not makes a difference in both taste and colour.
In 2009, it was discovered that Tequila could be used to make Synthetic Diamonds. These are not big enough to use in jewellery, but have numerous applications in the industrial world. They are used for edging bladed instruments and making computer chips.
Strangely as per Mexican Law any liquor called ‘Tequila’ must be produced in the limited areas of Mexico. They include Mexican state of Jalisco and in small areas of the states of Nayarit, Tamaulipas, Guanajuato and Michoacan. The USA agreed in 2003 to abide by this and ceased production of Tequila within the boundaries. Most of Europe has agreed to the stipulation that any bottle labelled Tequila must be produced in Mexico. This is not an international law so ongoing litigation is expected for many years to come.
In the 1990s a fungus known as Fusarium destroyed over one third of the agave crops so the prices skyrocketed as the mature agave became harder to get. The agave fields did recover from this fungus, but as with agricultural endeavors, this is bound to happen again.
In Mexico, the most traditional way to drink Tequila is neat, without lime and salt. Outside Mexico the single shot of Tequila is often served with salt and a slice of lime.
A variety of cocktails are made with Tequila. The popular ones are Margarita, Paloma, Tequila Sunrise, Tequila Slammer, Mojito Blanco and Vampiro.