Tequila - The Essence of Mexico - a Symbol of its Culture
Glossary of Terms, Phrases, Terminology and Definitions Relating to Tequila

Tequila Terminology
This page is still under construction. Links to other Tequila Glossaries are found below. We will be adding to, and refining this glossary over the next few weeks.


100% Agave
Tequila that is made exclusively from sugars of the "Agave Tequilana Weber, variedad Azul" (Agave Tequilana Weber, blue variety). Premium tequilas are made with "100% de Agave," and can only be bottled in Mexico. One of the two official variations of tequila. The other is "mixto".

Abocado
Tequila that has not been aged in wood. After the tequila is distilled some producers allow it to settle and finish for a few weeks in the tanks before bottling. These tequilas are often called suave, joven, gold, or abocado, implying youth and smoothness.

Agave
A distant relative of of the lily, but not in the cactus family. Agave plants are succulents with spiny, blue-green green leaves that grow out of a pineapple shaped base that take 8 to 12 years to mature. There are over 300 varieties, but only the blue agave (agave tequilana weber azul), cultivated primarily in the state of Jalisco, is used to make tequila.

Aguamiel
The sweet sap that is extracted from the piña (heart) of the agave plant is the basic building block for making tequila. It is fermented for several days and then distilled to make tequila and mezcal, or fermented alone to make pulque.

Alambique
The traditional copper still used for the distillation of tequila.

Añejo (an-yay-ho) Tequila
The next level of aging is the anejo tequilas. Anejo, which means "vintage", can only appear on bottles that contain tequila, aged in oak barrels having a maximum capacity of 600 liters, a minimum of one year. This is a requirement of the Mexican government. A year of resting in a cool bodega produces a smoother and more sophisticated taste. American whiskey barrels, french oak casks, or cognac barrels, are commonly used to age this tequila. Anejos are typically aged between 1 and 3 years. They are darker in color, more complex in flavor, and smoother than reposado tequilas.

AOC - Appellation de Origin Controllee - See Denomination of Origin

Barrica - Barrel.

Blanco / White Tequila
Clear, unaged tequila that is normally bottled right after being distilled. When the clear white tequila drips from the cooling coils of the alambique, it is correctly called silver or plata, but is more commonly called white or blanco.

Caballito (ca-ba-yee-to)
Translated as "little horse", the Caballito, also called a tequillita, is the traditional shot glass for drinking tequila straight, or derecho. It is a 2 to 3 ounce glass, 3 to 4 inches tall with a flat bottom and usually a wider mouth. Also the name for a cocktail using white tequila, grenadine syrup, orange juice, orange or lemon blossom water and crushed ice, consumed in the Federal District (Mexico City).

Coa de Jima (co-a-de-hema)
A sharp round edged tool used by the Jimador for harvesting agave plants. He uses this specialized tool to cut the leaves off the agave leaving the heart or piña.


CRT - Consejo Regulador de Tequila

The Tequila Regulatory Council (TRC) is the organization dedicated to promoting the quality, culture and prestige of Tequila. Participants of this interdisciplinary organization have met since December 16, 1993 with the goal of promoting the culture and quality of tequila. www.crt.org.mx

Denomination of Origin

Agreement reached May 27, 1997 between Mexico and the European Community. The law that establishes the specifications required to produce, bottle, distribute and sell tequila, to protect and maintain the Denomination of Origin. According to the "Appellation de Origin Controllee" (AOC), tequila can only be produced in Mexico.

Distintivo T (Distinctive T) - Tequila Regulating Council (Consejo Regulador del Tequila)

Joven or Suave
Young or Smooth - After the tequila is distilled some producers allow it to settle and finish for a few weeks in the tanks before bottling. Some add coloring or herbs which impart a pale golden color and then age for one or two more months. These tequilas are often called suave, joven, gold, or abocado, implying youth and smoothness.

NOM - Norma Oficial Mexicana
The system for Mexican government standards. There is a section in the NOM for tequila. Every distillery gets a NOM identification number to show they conform to the laws and standards governing tequila production. The NOM number identifies each distillery. Each distillery with a NOM may make several products for different companies under the same NOM identifier. The NOM number does not guarantee quality, only that the distillery is properly licensed.

Plata / Silver Tequila
Clear, unaged tequila that is normally bottled right after being distilled. When the clear white tequila drips from the cooling coils of the alambique, it is correctly called silver or plata, but is more commonly called white or blanco.


Reposado (ray-po-sah-doh) Tequila
The first definitive level of aging is termed reposado or rested and madates that the tequila remain in wood for a period of two months but no longer than 12 months. This is a requirement of the Mexican government. Each distillery has its own preference for the type of barrel used in aging. Some of the most common are made from french oak or white oak.
Additional links to pages with Tequila Terminology
There are several other glossaries online. Many have additional additional terms and more comprehensive descriptions. To understand tequila, you should understand the often specialized language and terminology used to describe its production and lore, as well as those Spanish words and phrases used for drinking in Mexico.
Tequila Source - Glossary of Tequila terms, phrases and definitions. http://www.tequilasource.com/glossary_01.htm

Ian Chadwick's Tequila site has an extensive glossary of tequila, mezcal and pulgue terms at: www.ianchadwick.com/tequila/glossary.html

Jose Cuervo has an excellent glossary at: www.cuervo.com/

Viva Tequila (www.vivatequila.com) has a glossary at: www.vivatequila.com/tequila/glossary.html

Viva Tequila (www.itequila.org) also has a glossary of tequila terms at: www.itequila.org/glossary.htm

Tequila is sold in many stores in Cabo San Lucas and the Los Cabos area of Baja California Sur, Mexico. Visit our Los Cabos Shopping Guide for general shopping information and to find the locations of stores that specialize in the sale of Tequila in the area.


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Last Revision - 25 May 2005