Tequila — it's one of the most divisive spirits in the market, and for good reason. You'd be forgiven if the mere mention of tequila brings up an automatic gag reflex from too many nights of bad shots and inevitable hangovers. But what you may not realize is that true tequila doesn't have to be a regret, and can in fact be a spirit that rivals the best of them when it comes to enjoyment.
Fun fact: like true champagne can only come from the Champagne region of France, true tequila can only come from the state of Jalisco in Mexico. Mexican laws states the official tequila regions as the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit and Tamaulipas.
Tequila itself is a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant which grows between five to seven years before harvest. Agave grows primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila (yes, there is actually a city named Tequila!), 40 miles northwest of Guadalajara, and in the Los Altos highlands of the western state of Jalisco. The soil, climate, harvest period and distilling process all impact the final outcome of the flavour profile.
So, if the definition of tequila is so controlled, why is there such a wide gap between gut-wrenching and quality? Here's the trick: cheap tequila contains 51 per cent of agave, the minimum required by Mexican law; the rest is supplemented with cheap sugar-cane based liquor and added caramel for colour and flavour. That bad hangover is the result of the additives, not the agave.
What to look for
There are a few simple rules to live by when looking for a good tequila brand:
Rule #1: Always source a tequila that is 100 per cent blue agave. I cannot stress enough the night/day difference a pure blue agave tequila will be from the cheaper stuff.
Rule #2: Don't confuse colour with quality. Like I said earlier, colouring additives can make bad tequila look aged, so don't judge a book by its cover.
Read the rest and get the recipes at Huffington Post.
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