- Spirits Learn
Tequila is a distilled spirit made from the blue Agave or Agave Azul, and produced only in five areas of Mexico. It can be drunk on its own or in a cocktail. Find out more in our full guide below.
- Colour: Can range from clear, unaged spirit (blanco) to light gold (reposado – rested) and a vibrant gold (añejo – aged). Some Tequilas are extra-aged giving them a richer gold hue.
- Region: Produced in Mexico – there are five Mexican states that are legally allowed to produce Tequila: Jalisco and parts of Guanajuanto, Tamaulipas, Michoacan and Nayarit.
- ABV: Typically bottled at 35% in Mexico, 40% in the US and 38% in Europe.
- Made from: The agave plant, which although has the appearance of a cactus, is a succulent related to the lily family and native to Mexico. Premium Tequilas are made from 100% blue agave, while lower-end tequilas, called ‘mixtos’, typically contain 51% agave with the remaining made up of molasses, corn syrup or other sugars.
- Translation: The name is derived from the Mexican town of Tequila, which lies to the northwest of the major city of Guadalajara.
What is Tequila?
Tequila is a distilled spirit made from the Agave tequilana Weber Blue, blue agave or Agave Azul, and produced only in five areas of Mexico: Jalisco (where 99% is made and home to the town Tequila) as well as Guanajuanto, Michoacan, Tamaulipas and Nayarit – these are known as the Denomination of Origin Tequila (DOT) and recognised as such in more than 40 countries.
There are 166 different species of agave, 125 of which can be found in Mexico but only the Weber Blue (named after the German botanist who first classified the species in 1905 due to the slight blue hue of its green foliage) can be used to make Tequila. These plants are particularly suited to the silicate-rich, red volcanic soils in the region around the city of Tequila with more than 300 million plants harvested there every year.
Learn about Vodka
The history of Mexican agave dates back more than a thousand years, to 250-300 AD when the Aztecs created pulque, a cloudy, slightly sour tasting alcohol drink made from the extraction of the sweet sap from the plant’s hearts and fermenting it. The drink was a hallowed beverage and consumed at religious ceremonies and sacred rites.
But it wasn’t until the 16th Century when the Spanish conquistadors who had settled in Mexico in 1521 ran out of their supply of brandy and decided to use their knowledge of distillation to turn pulque into a spirit.
Around 1600 the first mass-produced tequila was being made with the first official license to commercially make tequila issued by Spain’s King Carlos IV to the Cuervo family in 1975.
There are currently over 22,000 registered agave farmers in the DOC Tequila region cultivating several hundred million agave plants over 125,000 hectares.
The Mexican government has imposed strict regulation to control what can be called Tequila and how it is made. Those that adhere to these regulations, including the registration of all agave grown for Tequila production, are authenticated by the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) and carry a NOM number (Norma Oficial Mexicana) on each bottle’s label identifying the distillery.
It must be made from a minimum of 51% Blue Agave, with legislation allowing for the remainder to be made up of a neutral spirit made from cane sugar juice. Those that are 100% Blue Agave are labelled as such while those made with less than 100% are called ‘mixto’.
All tequilas are required to be aged for at least 14-21 days, it must be made from 100% natural ingredients and be a minimum of 38% alcohol.
Mexican regulations permit Tequila to be bottled at between 35% and 55% ABV but is usually sold at 35% – 38%. The US market stipulates a minimum of 40%, South Africa 43% and Europe 37.5%.
How is Tequila made?
Tequila is made from ripe blue agave plants which take a minimum of six years to mature but those planted in the highlands frequently take much longer to reach maturity and can be up to 12 years.
Unlike whisky where the majority of time is spent in the ageing process, producing tequila requires a vast amount of time invested in cultivation.
At maturity the blue agave plant produces a single flower then dies, but just as the plant begins to flower skilled harvesters called ‘jimadors’ cut off the shoot with a sharp curved tool called a Coa, preserving the starch stored in the heart of the plant.
The hearts are known as the piña as they resemble pineapples with jimadores cutting the plants’ spiky leaves as close to the piña as possible. The ripe hearts, which have an average weight of 32kg but can vary from 10-100kg, are then halved, quartered and slow roasted in traditional ovens called ‘hornos’ for 24-48 hours or baked in faster steam ovens called ‘autoclaves’ for 7 hours where the starches are converted into fermentable sugar.
After cooking the hearts are pressed and shredded to release the sugary juice, known as aguamiel or ‘honey water’. It is then put into fermentation tanks where yeast is added, though traditionally spontaneous fermentation using naturally occurring airborne yeast is still used by a small number of distillers.
The liquid is left to ferment in open or closed vats of wood or stainless-steel tanks for 24-96 hours. Sometimes distillers add some of the agave fibers from which the liquid was extracted to the tanks which form a seal and trap aromatics in the fermentation. The resulting liquid has a 6% alcohol content which then has to be distilled a minimum of two times by a combination of pot and column stills made of copper or more commonly stainless-steel. The style of tequila produced is controlled considerably by the distiller who must find a balance between different flavour compounds and the temperatures they’ll evaporate at. The resulting alcohol content varies between 70 and 110 Proof and is the basic Tequila Blanco, or silver Tequila.
Main types of Tequila:
- Blanco (white) or plata (silver) – can be bottled directly after distillation or rested in stainless steel or neutral oak barrels to allow oxidisation for up to two months. These have a bold taste and work well in cocktails.
- Joven (young) or Oro (gold) – sometimes blends of unaged and aged tequilas but more commonly unaged tequilas produced in the same way as blancos but given a golden hue from the addition of colouring and additives for flavour.
- Reposado (rested) – must be aged in oak barrels of unspecified size or vats called ‘pipones’ for a minimum of two months and up to a maximum of 12 months. Best for mixed drinks and sipping.
- Añejo – must be aged in oak casks with a maximum capacity of 600 litres for at least one year, or between one and three years. These often have a toasty, vanilla and citrus flavour.
- Extra Añejo – must be aged at least three years in oak barrels with a maximum capacity of 600 litres. These generally have more of a smoky flavour and can be compared to fine French Cognacs with similar price tags.
- Curados – a new category launched in 2006 – tequilas flavoured with natural ingredients such as lemon, orange, strawberry, pineapple and pear. A minimum 25% agave spirit must be used with 75% of the fermentable sugars coming from cane or corn and the addition of sweeteners, colouring and/or flavourings up to 75ml per litre.
Distillers can choose to use new casks for ageing or those that previously held tequila or more commonly American whiskey. The type of wood, toast level, thickness of stave, temperature and humidity all combine to dramatically effect how Tequila matures. To comply with regulations, all containers must remain closed, and have paper seals applied, for the duration of the ageing process which only the Compliance Assessment Agency can remove at the designated time.
In Mexico the most traditional way to drink Tequila is neat at room temperature without fruit slices or salt. In some regions it is popular to drink equal sized shots of tequila and sangrita (little blood in Spanish) a typical Mexican beverage made traditionally with orange juice, lime juice, pomegranate juice and hot chilli-sauce. These are sipped alternately without salt or lime.
When served neat, Tequila most often comes in a narrow 2-ounce shot glass called a caballito (little horse).
A common mixed drink consumed in Jalisco is a ‘Cantarito’ which is made with freshly squeezed orange, grapefruit and lime juice with tequila, a pinch of salt and sparkling grapefruit soda. The mix is usually served in little clay cups (Cantaritos) – a diminutive version of cántaro meaning jug.
In 2002, an official tequila glass was approved by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila called the Ouverture Tequila glass made by Riedel. The margarita glass, rimmed with salt or sugar, is also a widely used for the entire genre of tequila-based drinks.
- Margarita / Frozen margarita
- Tequila Sunrise
- Tequila Paloma
- Tequila Martini
- Tequila Slammer
Did you know?
- Some artisan and craft Tequilas are made using one of the oldest and most labour-intensive techniques known as the ‘Tahona Process’ where the cooked hearts of the blue agave plant are moved into the path of a huge, volcanic stone that has been chiselled into a rough, hulking wheel. The wheel is attached to a long pole and mechanical arm, or more traditionally a mule or oxen, which slowly pulls the wheel to press the juice out of the agave hearts. The Tahona is the name of the wheel itself and comes from the Nahuatl language of the indigenous Aztecs. The process isn’t widely used in the tequila industry with many large brands preferring more efficient extraction methods but a handful of producers use it for the complexity of flavour it gives the resulting juice. Patrón’s Roca line is produced in small batches and made exclusively using the Tahona Process.
- It’s not just the hearts of the agave plant that are important, at one point in history local inhabitants of Tequila county used the leaves to build roofs, make needles and pins, wind strong rope and manufacture paper as well as using the dried fleshly leaves as fuel, the ashes as soap or detergent and the sap to heal wounds.
- In 2006 a white gold and platinum bottle of Ultra Premium Tequila Ley .925 sold for $225,000 making it the most expensive bottle of Tequila ever sold.
Biggest selling brands:
- Jose Cuervo – Becle
- Sauza – Beam Suntory
- Patrón – Bacardi
Other key brands:
- El Jimador
- Don Julio
- Olmeca Altos
- Cabo Wabo
- Pepe Lopez
Back to our spirits homepage
What are the 3 basic types of tequila? ›
Types of Tequila
Blanco – Bottled immediately following distillation, some are aged for a short period of time. Reposado – Tequila aged between 2-12 months in oak barrels. Joven – A mixture of Blanco and Reposado tequilas.
Tequila is a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant. Mexican law regulates that tequila can only come from the state of Jalisco and must be bottled between 35 and 55 percent ABV. When sold in the U.S., tequila must contain a minimum 40 percent ABV.How do Beginners drink tequila? ›
Fill a tumbler with 2oz of tequila. Take a small sip straight, and enjoy! To add a little flare, cut up a lime wedge, and get a ramekin of salt. After every sip, dip the wedge into the salt and suck on it.How can I train myself to like tequila? ›
Try your nemesis in a drink far removed from the one that made you ill. If your tequila aversion started with too many margaritas, try to meet agave spirits in something stirred, like a Oaxaca Old-Fashioned. If it started with tequila shots, go for something like a bright, fizzy Paloma. Scale up gradually.What is the number 1 tequila? ›
1) Jose Cuervo – 7.9 million
To put the 7.9 million cases into perspective, that is equal to approximately 1,615,909,090 44 millilitre Tequila shots.
Aside from the clear color of silver tequilas that makes it easier to combine with other drinks, its strong and sweet agave flavor also complements any margarita mix, like this Italian margarita recipe. Gold tequila, on the other hand, has a smoother taste compared to the acrid flavor of silver tequila.What are the 5 regions of tequila? ›
Like champagne, cognac, and some fine wines, tequila can only be produced in five regions in Mexico—Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, Tamaulipas, and Jalisco, though far and away the largest producer is Jalisco.How many shots of tequila is normal? ›
The general range of shots that get people drunk is two to three. But, depending on how fast they drink and factors like weight, age, sex, and stomach content, people can be intoxicated with just one shot or more than three.Why is tequila the healthiest? ›
Tequila has less sugar and calories than similar liquors, which may make it a slightly healthier option if you drink.Why does tequila not give you a hangover? ›
Pure tequila, as opposed to normal mixed tequilas, do not have as many congeners or sugars. Thus, minimal hangovers.
Why do you lick your hand before tequila? ›
Moisten the back of your hand between thumb and index finger (usually by licking) and pour on a pinch of salt. Lick salt off your hand. The salt lessens the burn of the tequila. Immediately drink shot glass of tequila quickly.Do you put ice in tequila? ›
Many tequila connoisseurs will swear that the best way to drink tequila is to sip it on its own. If you do this, you can order your tequila chilled, on the rocks (ice) or straight up, but most prefer it chilled. Do not order it with salt and lime, that is only for shots.What kind of person likes tequila? ›
Tequila. The definition of “I'm here for a good time, not a long time.” Tequila drinkers are plain and straightforward, in that they all love to party. Personally, I don't think the difference in tequila cocktails matters; if tequila is in your go-to drink, then you're a wild one.Why do you put salt in tequila? ›
It is a good idea to take salt before drinking tequila to reduce the sensation of burning. The taste of tequila will be reduced by licking the salt, as your saliva will help to remove the sharp taste from it. Furthermore, by chewing the lime before consuming it, you can add some flavor to the beverage.What order do you do tequila shots? ›
- The TL;DR: Salt, Tequila, Lime. Just remember: Lick, Sip, Suck. ...
- Step One: Lick the Salt. ...
- Step Two: Shoot the Tequila. ...
- Step Three: Suck on the Lime.
- Don Julio.
- Jose Cuervo.
- Olmeca Altos.
Not only is Casa Dragones Oprah's favorite tequila, but for the third time it has been named as one of Oprah's Favorite Things in O Magazine, the ultimate luxury gift guide for the holidays.What is the most sold tequila in the US? ›
1800 Tequila is a Mexican tequila brand owned by the Beckmann family. The family also owns Jose Cuervo, the best-selling brand of tequila in the United States.What is the most delicious tequila? ›
- Best Overall: Siete Leguas Reposado.
- Best for a Margarita: Cimarron Blanco Tequila.
- Best Woman-owned: La Gritona Reposado Tequila.
- Best Cristalino: Volcan De Mi Tierra Cristalino Tequila.
- Best Anejo: Cutwater Spirits Añejo Tequila.
To avoid a tequila hangover – stick to 100% Blue Agave tequila. Check bottle labels and check that it says it uses 'ONLY 100% Blue Agave'. If it doesn't have these words, then give it a miss.
What are the two colors of tequila? ›
The obvious difference between the two types of tequila is the color, with silver tequila being clear in color and gold tequila being an amber/caramel color that can range in shades of light and dark.How many flavors of tequila are there? ›
When it comes to aging, there are five different types of tequila: blanco, reposado, añejo, extra añejo, and cristalino.What city produces the most tequila? ›
Most Tequilas come from the state of Jalisco, where the actual town of Tequila, MX resides. To begin producing tequila the jimador, or farmer of agave, must plant the blue agave.How many beers equal a shot of tequila? ›
One beer is equal to one shot. Therefore, you will be within the legal BAC limits if you have one drink an hour. According to the American Addiction Center, binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks in a “short time”.How do you not get drunk on tequila? ›
- Set your limits. Before you start drinking, decide how many drinks you'll have and then stick to that number. ...
- Avoid drinking too quickly. ...
- Try saying no. ...
- Avoid drinking rounds and shots. ...
- Water and food are your friends. ...
- Focus on other things. ...
- Have a plan B. ...
- Have a good time.
A Tequila and Coke is a quick and easy cocktail recipe that you may have overlooked! If you've ever wondered, “Can you mix tequila and coke?” The answer is YES! Pour a tasty Coke Cocktail (that is sometimes called a Batanga!) on ice for a super refreshing drink idea. It takes just a few minutes to make!What does tequila do to a woman? ›
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure and reward. In one study, women who consumed tequila had significantly higher levels of dopamine in their brains than women who consumed vodka. The women who consumed tequila also reported feeling more sexually aroused than the women who consumed vodka.Does tequila help you sleep? ›
aids in sleep A small amount of tequila is commonly used as a nightcap to calm the nerves and relax the body. This muscle relaxant reduces sleep-deprivation and promotes good night's sleep for insomniacs and others who struggle to fall asleep.Why is tequila good for your bones? ›
According to researchers, a substance in the tequila plant (Agave tequilana) is capable of improving the absorption of calcium and magnesium, essential minerals to maintain bone health.Which is stronger Don Julio or Patron? ›
Don Julio has a more potent taste and is very distinctive in flavor. It is better to drink it as is, instead of incorporating it into cocktails because it delivers a unique mix of flavors in each sip. This play of several flavors in every sip makes it more luxurious than Patron.
Is tequila good for anxiety? ›
Did you know that having tequila in small quantity can help in calming your nerves, relax and even sleep better? Yes, it can also help in battling restlessness. However, remember not to overdo it and do not become dependent on it for sleeping properly.Why does tequila make me sleepy? ›
Tequila Effects – How Strong is Tequila? Ethanol depresses the central nervous system, which means that it has a calming or sleep-inducing effect. However, the effects that you feel depend on the amount you consume as well as the situation you are in.What do you say before drinking tequila? ›
I learned the “tequila toast,” arriba (glasses up); abajo (glasses down); al centro (glasses to the front which wishes health to everyone participating in the toast); y pa' dentro (your tequila goes inside or drink your drink), when I was shopping in Acapulco a few years back.Why do people bite lemon after tequila? ›
The tradition of biting a lemon and licking salt after sipping tequila is thought to have started in the 1970s in Mexico. It is believed that this combo helps to take away the tequila's bite and makes it more palatable. Some say that the salt also helps to bring out the tequila's flavor.Do you have to brush your teeth after drinking tequila? ›
Always brush your teeth after drinking, but make sure you wait at least 20 minutes after your last drink. It takes approximately that much time for the enamel on your teeth to re-harden. Brushing inside that 20 minute window can actually cause damage to your enamel and increase your risk of cavities.What is the proper way to drink tequila? ›
If you want the complete tequila experience, order it straight. No ice, no frills. Just a wide breadth of aromas and flavors to experience in each sip. Sipping it neat allows you to pick through the subtleties, and taste each element present in your tequila.How do Mexicans drink tequila? ›
In Mexico, the traditional way to drink tequila is neat and with small, regular sips. Purists say tequila should be young or white (joven or blanco tequila) and that it should be drunk at room temperature. All of these points give you the best way to savor and taste the earthy notes of the agave plant.What is the most popular way to drink tequila? ›
Neat, Sipping or On the Rocks
Drink it neat and with small, regular sips. Treat it just as you would cognacs or bourbons, with small sips to appreciate the real flavor profile. Purists believe that the best quality tequila is white (called blanco tequila). They also believe it is best to drink it at room temperature.
If you love tequila, you are most likely to be the absolute life of the party, you are the best example of a crazy party person. You love being the centre of attention and adore anything that will take the edge off. You are the one who knows how to have a good time.Why you should drink tequila everyday? ›
It Helps Digestion
In addition to adding probiotics, a post-meal shot of tequila may help stimulate digestion. Some studies have also found that a shot of tequila before the meal acts as an apéritif, stimulating metabolism and appetite.
Is tequila good for your brain? ›
It may lower chances of developing dementia
The BBC reported studies show a link between people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol (including tequila) to having a lower incidence of dementia later in life.
Jose Cuervo is the best-known and biggest-selling tequila brand in the world, with a history dating back to 1795, but its reputation is somewhat checkered. It makes some excellent tequilas that are well-regarded by aficionados, notably its high-end Reserva de la Familia lines.Do Mexicans drink tequila with salt? ›
Mexicans normally enjoy their 100% agave tequila filled in a shot glass and then by taking small sips of it. You can also have some lime and salt after every sip or two if you feel like.Why do you put lime in tequila shots? ›
The salt and the lime are aids for drinking cheap, sharp-tasting (cruda) tequila. The drinker licks a dash of salt off their moistened hand, to bring saliva into the mouth. The drinker then takes a sip or swallow of tequila. The drinker then sucks or bites the lime, to ameliorate the raw, burning taste of the tequila.Do you sip or chug tequila? ›
Drink it any way you like: in a shot, on the rocks, or in a cocktail. We recommend sipping it. Fill a tumbler with 2oz of tequila. Take a small sip straight, and enjoy!Is 4 shots of tequila a lot? ›
How Many Shots of Tequila Does It Usually Take to Get Drunk? The average person would get mildly drunk on tequila after two shots, moderately drunk after four shots, and very drunk for anything more. Of course, this is highly subject to many different factors, such as weight, mood, age, and even alcohol tolerance.What salt is best for tequila shots? ›
Salt (coarse sea salt or kosher salt is best)What are the main types of tequila? ›
When it comes to aging, there are five different types of tequila: blanco, reposado, añejo, extra añejo, and cristalino. Let's get into it. A blanco, sometimes called plata or silver tequila, can be aged in a barrel for up to 60 days, but in most cases it goes from the still to a stainless steel tank to the bottle.What is añejo vs reposado vs Blanco? ›
The time that the tequila spends aging in barrel is what determines whether it will be a blanco, which is unaged, a reposado, which is aged up to a year, or an añejo, which has been aged from 1-2years.What is silver vs reposado vs anejo? ›
Try this Patron Margarita using silver tequila. Tequila reposado is aged 2 to 12 months in oak barrels (reposado means “rested” in Spanish). It has a smooth flavor and notes of oak, vanilla, and caramel. Tequila añejo is aged 1 to 4 years in oak barrels (añejo means “old” or “vintage” in Spanish).
What are the 2 types of tequila? ›
There are two main classifications of tequila, 'Mixto' and '100% Agave'. These two categories of tequila are further categorised according to whether or not the tequila has been aged, and if so for how long. They are (from non-aged to longest aged) Blanco, Joven/Gold, Reposado, Añejo and Extra Añejo.Which color tequila is best? ›
When it comes down to it, silver tequila is better for margaritas than gold tequila. They are aged differently, with silver tequila boasting a stronger, purer taste while being clear in color. Its simplicity makes it the perfect companion to mixed drinks, as it matches beautifully with other flavor profiles.What are the rules for tequila? ›
An important rule are the categories which refer to the content of agave in each bottle. To be classed as Tequila this has to be a minimum of 51%, meaning the other 49% can be additives, sugars etc and may be sold in bulk to then be bottled outside of Mexico – These commonly known as 'Mixto Tequla'.
Añejo tequilas are aged from one to three years, and are considered the best type of tequila for sipping because of their smoother flavor. Añejo means “vintage”, and they are darker than reposado tequilas.What is mezcal vs tequila? ›
“All tequila is mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila.” It's a statement that gets tossed around a lot, and it is, in spirit, true: Mezcal is any liquor distilled from agave, a succulent plant native to the Americas, and tequila is made with the blue Weber agave species.Which tequila is best for shots? ›
- Teremana Blanco.
- El Jimador Silver.
- Casamigos Blanco.
- Maestro Dobel Diamante.
- Patron Silver.
- 818 Blanco.
- El Bandido Yankee.
- Fortaleza Blanco.
Reposados take on the gold hue from the barrels in which they are aged. They are typically aged in oak or white oak barrels, and the type of barrel changes the flavor of each distillery's tequila.
Blanco tequila — also called silver or white tequila — is characterized by its clear appearance. Silver tequila has this color (or lack thereof) because it is bottled directly after being distilled. It is either aged for a very short period of up to two months or not aged at all.What is mezcal in English? ›
Mezcal (/mɛˈskæl/, American Spanish: [mesˈkal] ( listen)), sometimes spelled mescal, is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from any type of agave. The word mezcal comes from Nahuatl mexcalli [meʃˈkalːi], which means "oven-cooked agave", from metl [met͡ɬ] and ixcalli [iʃˈkalːi].What type of tequila is Jose Cuervo? ›
Cuervo's Tradicional has been produced since 1795. Its varieties, Silver and Reposado, are 100% agave tequilas.
What's the most popular tequila drink? ›
Forever the hero of summertime, the Margarita is the world's most beloved tequila cocktail. And for good reason. The beauty of this three-ingredient beverage is in its simplicity. Just combine blanco tequila with lime juice and the orange liqueur of your choice, shake with ice, and strain into a glass with ice.