Huffpost Taste

13 Things You Never Knew About Tequila

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Few beverages hold as much mystique as tequila. The beloved Mexican pick-me-up conjures visions of oversized sombreros, mariachi bands, and salt-rimmed margaritas. But it is also one of the most misunderstood drinks, surrounded by years of myths and legends.

Here, we’ve partnered with Patrón to, um, distill some of the facts. Ole!

July 24th is National Tequila Day. To honor this joyous occasion, make sure to grab a bottle of Patrón, the world's #1 selling ultimate premium tequila.


1. Tequila Is Plant-Based.

blue agave

Tequila is made from the blue agave, or agave tequilana Weber. According to WebMD, the core of the plant contains aguamiel or "honey water," which is used for syrup (and tequila) production.

2. Tequila Is Technically A Mezcal.

mezcal

But mezcal is not tequila. Got that? The main difference between the two is the plant. All tequila must be produced using blue agave, whereas a variety of agave plants can be used to make a single mezcal batch.

3. The Machete Used To Chop Agave Leaves Is Called A “Coa”…

agave tequila

And it has circular blades.

4. … And The Men Who Use The Coa Are Called Jimadors.

jimidores

5. Only The Agave Heart Is Used To Make Tequila.

pina

Tequila is produced by removing the heart, or piña, of the agave plant, which can weigh anywhere from 80 to 200 pounds when harvested. This heart is stripped of its leaves and then cooked to remove the sap, which is fermented and distilled.

6. Tequila Does NOT Contain Psychedelic Properties.

psychedelic

In the mid-20th century, tequila sales spiked after California residents thought it was a psychedelic. Nope. They were just confusing mezcal with mescaline (the psychoactive alkaloid of peyote).

7. You Can Turn Tequila Into Diamonds.

diamond

Physicists at the National Autonomous University of Mexico figured out a way to make artificial diamonds out of tequila. Sadly, the synthetic diamonds are too small to be turned into jewelry, but they can be used for an array of electronic and industrial purposes.

8. Serious Tequila Aficionados Generally Don’t Do Shots.

glasses

Instead, they sip tequila from a special tequila glass or brandy snifter. That way, the agave flavors and aromas can be properly enjoyed.

9. A Bottle Of Tequila Can Last Unopened For Years.

tequila cup

However, once you open a bottle, you have about one to two months before oxidization and evaporation lower the quality of the tequila and destroys the agave profile. So, you want to drink up within 3 to 6 months, at which point it becomes more like a bourbon.

10. Some Tequila Is Still Made Using Ancient Techniques.

wheel

Some premium tequilas, such as Patrón, use the “Tahona” process in which a 2-ton volcanic stone wheel slowly crushes the shredded, cooked agave. The agave juice and fibers are then placed in pine wood casks for fermentation. During the next step, distillation, the fermented “mosto” (or basic liquid) is distilled once with the agave fiber, then again without. Then it is fine filtered and balanced to produce tequila. At Patrón, more than 60 hands will touch a single bottle before it is shipped.

11. To Be Called Tequila, It Must Be Produced In Mexico.

tequila

Just as true champagne must hail from France, tequila has Denomination of Origin, meaning that it has to be produced in Mexico, mainly in the western Mexican state of Jalisco. The states of Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas are also acceptable.

12. Real Tequila Doesn’t Have A Worm In It.

worm alcohol

Perhaps even more popular than the actual tequila is the worm crawling around the bottom of the bottle. But the worm, or gusano, actually originated with tequila's “lower-quality” cousin, mezcal, largely as a marketing ploy. The gusano is the larvae of a type of moth that lives on the agave plant.

13. There Are Different Kinds of Tequila

barrel

According to Tequila.net, the main types of tequila are split into two categories: 100% Blue Agave, and Tequila Mixto (Mixed). These, in turn, are then divided into five types of Tequila: Tequila Silver - Blanco - Plata - White – Platinum; Tequila Gold - Joven – Oro; Tequila Reposado; Tequila Añejo (extra aged); and Tequila Extra Añejo (extra, extra aged). Reposado and Añejo are excellent substitutes for rum, bourbon or scotch and cognac or Armagnac. Try this signature sangrita cocktail for a delicious spin on an old classic.