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Five Things You Should Know About Tequila
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Five Things You Should Know About Tequila

  1. To be classified as tequila, a spirit must be at least 51% derived from blue agave (with the rest made up from another neutral spirit), though many brands today up the ante and use 100 percent blue agave. Most brands that use pure blue agave will note it on the label, but as a general rule of thumb "mixto" tequilas made with a lower percentage of agave are typically cheaper.
  2.  Blanco, also known as Silver tequila, and Joven, aka Gold, are the youngest varieties and are typically unaged or else "rested" for a month or two to help smooth the bite of the liquor—these are sometimes marketed as Suave. Jovens are generally blended, either with aged tequilas or merely with colorants and sweeteners to achieve their "gold" shade; they are most commonly used in making cocktails. Of the aged styles, Reposado have the least aging, with the spirit resting in barrels for anywhere from two months to a year; Añejo, in turn, is aged from 1 to 3 years, and Extra Añejo (a relatively new classification that was introduced in the mid-2000s) ages for a minimum of 3 years.  
  3. The majestic agave plant is not a cactus. The agave plant actually belongs to the Agavoideae family, which is a succulent closely related to the lily plant. In Latin, agave means illustrious, admirable, and noble.
  4. As with wine, terroir can influence the taste of tequila. The primary influences on the flavor are the yeast, which can either be an added commercial yeast or wild yeast from the surrounding environment, and the type of soil that the agave is grown in. Broadly speaking, tequilas from the Highlands (Los Altos) often express with grassier and sometimes sweeter flavor profiles, while those from the Lowland (El Valle) can have an earthier, more mineral quality.
     
    To really get a feel of the terroir, brands like Mezcales de Leyenda and Del Maguey specialize in in regional and even single-village bottlings to compare.
  5. Great Mixers for Tequila
    • Tequila + Grapefruit,
    • Soda, Pineapple Juice,
    • Orange Juice,
    • Agave Syrup,
    • Vermouth,
    • Bloody Mary Mix
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