Distilled from the Fermented Sap of the Blue Agave
Tequila is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented and distilled sap of the blue agave plant. Tequila, the first distilled spirit on the North American continent, is only produced in certain regions of Mexico. For many years, México's fiery liquor was largely confined to margaritas and shooters at the bar. Today's fine tequilas are highly coveted by collectors worldwidefor both the smooth aromatic liquor and the handcrafted decorative bottle. While some of the unusual packaging holds tequila without pedigree, many are premium brands, selling at the top end of the market.
México's tequila producers, almost all located in a one hundred-mile radius of the town of Tequila in Jalisco State, distill hundreds of brands, some the old wayin small lots in tiny family-run fabricasmost in ultra-modern distilleries. Using artisans to create unique handblown glass, crystal, ceramic, and Talavera pottery bottles, savvy collectors are snapping them up like fine vintages of wine.
Fine tequila is to be savored like the best cognac or single malt scotch. With production limited to the availability of blue agave, tequila's base, prices have soared in recent years due to unprecented demandover 50 million gallons of tequila are sold worldwide annually. With the surge in popularity and the shift to more tequila exports made of 100% Weber blue agave, more imbibers than ever are joining the list of tequila aficionados.
Tequila is North America's first distilled spirit, and has been produced in México since shortly after the Spanish conquered the country in the early 1500s. The Spanish adapted the indigenous drink pulque, fermented from the maguey plant, into mezcal, which was eventually distilled into the tequila we drink today, using agave. Cuervo would be the first distillery to bottle tequila in the late 1900s when others were still using barrels.
Regulated by México’s Norma Oficial Mexicana since the late 1970s, each type of tequila is given a category based on age and color.
Unaged tequila is called blanco (white, and also called silver), while tequila that has been colored gold with caramel is called joven abocado (bottled young)North Americans know this as "gold." Reposado (rested) is tequila that has aged in oak for at least two months; and añejo (aged) has aged for a year or more. To be classified as tequila, it must be made from no less than 51% Weber blue agave.
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Tequila produced in record amounts
Tequila production in 2005 will hit a record high of around 220 million liters this year, reports the Tequila Regulatory Council. The previous best year for production was 1999. More than half the tequila manufactured in Mexico is exported. One-third is pure, made from 100 percent agave.
Source: Guadalajara Reporter - http://www.guadalajarareporter.com/
17 December 2005
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