When enjoying one of your favorite sipping tequila cocktails, it might cross your mind to ask: Where is tequila made? It’s so easy to forget to question where our drinks come from. But, when it comes to sipping tequila, origins are everything.
Bienvenido a México
Champagne aficionados know that only true renditions of the drink come from the Champagne region in France. The same goes for tequila, but instead of France, it’s Mexico or bust. True sipping tequila has been around since the 1500s and is distilled in the state of Jalisco – a central area of Mexico that borders the Pacific Ocean. Some surrounding municipalities also produce sipping tequila, although Jalisco is the most popular location for the signature Mexican drink. The first factory to make tequila was founded in 1600 by Don Pedro Sanchez de Tagle. It was he who created the Mezcal wines and distillation methods to produce tequila.
If you’re wondering what Mezcal wine is, we can explain. Mezcal is a Mexican distilled alcoholic beverage that comes from any variety of agave. Tequila is a particular type of mezcal. What sets sipping tequila apart is that it comes from blue agave. The distinctly azure plant is native to Jalisco. Can other countries grow blue agave? Yes – but tequila is only labeled authentic if it’s sourced in Mexico. The abundant blue agave crops of Jalisco guarantee the drink goes from field to bottle without traveling too far.
Where tequila is made makes more difference than you might guess. And that lore surrounding larvae in the bottle? Real tequila does not contain any creepy-crawlies, so you can cross that off the list as far as indicators for authenticity.
Back to Basics
The production of tequila is a painstaking process. The blue agave plant takes years to reach maturity. Producing tequila requires patience and commitment.
Also known as Blue Weber Agave, the plant thrives at higher altitudes, and in sandy soils. It needs adequate sun, little water, and high heat. The Los Altos region of Jalisco provides a model environment for Blue Weber Agave.
The farming and harvesting of agave is less mechanical and more artistic. Traditional methods and tools prove to this day to be effective. There’s even a specific name for skilled cultivators of the plant – jimador.
After up to ten years of carefully tending the plant, jimadores will remove the core of the succulent, known as the piña. The pineapple-like element of the agave plant is then cooked, mashed, and finally distilled into tequila.
The techniques used by jimadores have been in use for hundreds of years and handed down through generations of farmers. High demand for true tequila might mean harvesting machines are expected in the future. But for now, the majority of tequila begins with time-honored practices.
Classic or Contemporary?
A worthy drink starts with real sipping tequila. Where you go from there is up to you – and the possibilities are vast. The beauty of bona fide tequila is that the high quality makes it quite versatile.
Whether you’re into Cosmos or Mojitos, tequila offers a boldly delicious alternative to the standard alcohol. Margarita fans will find favor with authentic tequila – it’s the difference between pedestrian and perfection. For something along more traditional lines, start with two ounces of Volans Extra Añejo tequila. Add ice (optional), and prepare for a true sipping tequila experience.
So should you be asking yourself the question, where is tequila made? Absolutely. Because it really does matter where your drinks come from. How you enjoy, on the other hand, it is up to you. Keep an eye on our website for hints and tips on the many ways to enjoy sipping tequila.
To learn more about this subject, read the book ¡Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico by Marie Sarita Gaytán. Click here to find out more.