Tequila & Mezcal
Tequila & Mezcal | Next Day Delivery | 31DOVER.com
Oh Tequila, it makes us happy...
Whether you're planning on sipping it straight or mixing it in a cocktail, these tequilas cater to all requirements.
The Mexican Spirit That Kicks Like A Mule
Tequila is the given name for the specific drink made from fermenting the blue agave plant in Mexico - and NOT as is commonly thought from a cactus. The plant is so abundant in parts of the country due to the red volcanic soil which is ever-present, and nowadays more than 300 million plants are harvested each and every year. Current Mexican law states that tequila can only be produced in the state of Jalisco, and municipalities in Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit and Tamaulipas. Tequila is a protected designation of origin product in the EU, so only the genuine article makes its way to discerning drinkers in the UK.
Tequila was first produced in the city of the same name at some point in the 17th century, with the first official Tequila license handed to the Cuervo family in 1618. The Aztec people had made a similar beverage by fermenting the agave plant as early as 1521, but it was not the same as the tequila we know and love today. Tequila was exported to the USA for the first time in 1884, with Don Francisco Javier announcing: "There cannot be tequila where there are no agave plants."
It even has its own governing body, the Tequila Regulatory Council of Mexico, which rules with an iron fist. They didn't even allow flavoured tequila to carry the tequila name until as recently as 2004, and even now brands made from 100% agave plants cannot be flavoured.
How It’s Made
Planting, harvesting and fermenting the agave plant remains very much a manual labour, with production techniques dating back centuries very much in evidence. A special knife called a coa is used to cut away the leaves of the agave from the stalk, and this must be timed to perfection otherwise the plant can contain too much/too little carbohydrate for fermentation to take place.
The heart of the agave plant, known as the pinas, are oven-baked and then shredded and mashed under a large stone wheel. The resulting juice is then stored in wooden vats for days on end to ferment, and this is often then distilled twice to produce the gorgeous, clear tequila. Tequila is produced in one of five ways:
Blanco (white) – this white tequila is un-aged and bottled immediately after distillation to retain its original form and flavour.
Joven (gold) – this is traditional tequila flavoured with caramel, oak extract, glycerine or sugar syrup to produce its distinctive look and taste.
Reposado (rested) – tequila aged for a minimum of two months, but less than a year.
Anejo (aged) – tequila aged for a minimum of one year, but less than three years.
Extra Anejo (extra aged) – tequila aged for a minimum of three years.
Blanco and Joven tequilas present a bolder flavour with their quicker turnaround, while Reposado and Anejo tequilas are noticeably smoother and subtler. This is because these are stored in wooden casks for a long time, and ultimately the tequila will take on the woody flavours as the alcohol content mellows. Tequila generally comes at a steady 38-40% proof, although some regions will produce up to a boot-shaking 55% volume!
How to Enjoy Tequila
The first (and for some people, only) experience of tequila may have come in a bar, where – armed with a slice of lime and some salt – you are subjected to a classic shot to celebrate a special occasion. It's likely that a) you weren't truly drinking tequila and b) shotting the tequila meant that you didn't really taste the nuances of a spirit that is as tightly-regulated as Champagne and Scotch. If you still can't handle straight-up sipping, there a number of different cocktails and mixers to enjoy which are far easier to take on the palate. The classic Margarita, for example, combines tequila blanco with cointreau and lime juice. And the timeless Tequila Sunrise, with its dazzling array of colours, is simply tequila and orange juice, with grenadine added prior to stirring to create the sunrise effect. You can substitute vodka for tequila and create a Bloody Maria (a Hispanic take on a Bloody Mary), and why not try a traditional Mexican tipple, the Paloma, which is tequila, grapefruit juice and lemon & lime soda.