It seems no other liquid is surrounded by as many stories, myths, legends and lore as Tequila and its sister beverage Mezcal. Yet as wine and whisky have taken their place in modernized western culture, so too has Tequila. While plenty have sampled various breeds of this zesty spirit in the form of a margarita, many more are discovering that good Tequila is a drink to be enjoyed like a fine Cognac or Scotch.
The Aztec people were first to make a fermented beverage from the agave plant long before the Spanish arrived. However, the Spanish had been introduced to the art of distillation by the Moors in 800 A.D. and they brought the technology with them when Cortez landed in 1519. When their brandy ran out they began to distill the Aztec beverage to create North America’s first indigenous distilled spirit. First produced near the future city of Tequila, this would eventually become it's name. Around 1600, Don Pedro Sanchez de Tagle began mass-producing at the first factory in the territory of modern-day Jalisco.
Today the name Tequila is internationally protected by the country of Mexico. Just as Champagne can only be made in the Champagne region of France, "Tequila" can only be produced in one of five states in Mexico: Jalisco, Michoacan, Guanajuato, Nayarit and Tamaulipas. Mexican law requires that at least 51% Blue Agave must be present to use the name Tequila and manufactures must label each bottle with the percentage of Blue Agave in the finished product. Those with less than 100% Agave are considered blends and use some other ingredient, such as sugar cane, to make up the remaining 49%.
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Mezcal or Tequila?
In actual fact, all tequilas are Mezcal but by Mexican law only those made from Blue Weber Agave can be called “Tequila.” There are however over 130 species of Agavaceae in Mexico and several can be used to make Mezcal using natural processes over four hundred years old.
Source: ACSquier-Tequila Master Graduate, Wikipedia, tequilasource.com, tequilaaficionado.com, mescal.com
Aged 3 Years or more
Aged 1-3 Years
Aged 2 months < Year
Aged 2 months or less
Generally un-aged blend