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TEQUILA: The many types of magic in the bottle
Real Tequila can only be produced in the Tequila Region of Mexico. As the brand ‘tequila’ is controlled by the Mexican government, it must comply with the strict Mexican government regulations. To make sure that tequila is genuine it has to be produced according to the strict standards. It also must bear the official standard, NOM (Norma Oficial Mexicana) and the Tequila Regulatory Council’s monogram (CRT) on the label. All Premium Tequila must be adorned with the ‘100% Agave’ marking on the label as well. Each approved tequila distiller gets its own NOM that ensures that the product complies with the official Denomination of Origin. Not all tequila is created equal and if your label does not contain this information, it is likely that you are not drinking tequila.
In order to satisfy an ever-growing demand and preferences of the consumer, tequila is produced in two general categories. The two categories are defined by the percentage of juices coming from the blue agave plant.
1. Tequila 100% Agave. This must be made with 100% blue agave juices. It must be bottled at the distillery in Mexico. It may come in three types: Blanco, Reposado, or Añejo (See below for descriptions of the types).
2. Tequila. This must be made with at least 51% blue agave juices. This tequila may be exported in bulk to be bottled in other countries following the NOM standard. It may come in four different types: Blanco, Gold, Reposado, or Añejo (See below for descriptions of the types).
The NOM standard defines the four types of tequila as follows:
1. Blanco or Silver
Considered the traditional tequila that started it all. It is a clear and transparent, fresh from the still tequila that is called Blanco (white or silver). It must be bottled immediately after the distillation process. It has the true bouquet and flavor of the blue agave. It is usually strong and is traditionally enjoyed in a 2 oz small glass called a "caballito"
2. Oro or Gold
This is tequila Blanco mellowed by the addition of colorants and flavorings, caramel being the most common to make the tequila look aged. It is the tequila of choice for frozen Margaritas as it has a much sweeter taste.
3. Reposado or Rested
This is Blanco that has been kept in white oak casks called "pipones" for up to one year. The oak barrels give Reposado a pleasing bouquet, mellowed taste, and its pale color. Reposado keeps the blue agave taste and is gentler to the palate. These tequilas are very popular and have experienced extreme demand and high prices.
4. Añejo or Aged
This is Blanco tequila that is aged in white oak casks for more than a year. It is usually three years of the aging process. The maximum capacity of the casks should not exceed 159 gallons. The amber color and woody flavor are picked up from the oak. The oxidation that takes place through the porous wood helps develop the unique bouquet and taste.
A new category that was added in March 2006. It is represented on the bottles as “Extra Añejo” This Tequila is aged in white oak casts for at least three years or longer. It is in the big leagues of liquor in tastes and price.
Whatever your choice, tequila has a flavor that is like no other.
About the Author: Don Tekela has been in the search of the perfect Tequila for the past 20 years. He currently resides in Mexico, the tequila capital of the world.