Tequila is the distilled spirit that defines Mexico and Mexican culture. It is the beverage than can be distilled and produced in specific regions in Mexico only to be called tequila. The base ingredient is the Weber Blue Agave plant, which is native to Mexico.
There are five regions in Mexico than can produce good tequila: Jalisco, Michoacán, Guanajuato, Nayarit and Tamaulipas. Jalisco is the main region for tequila production and is further sub-divided into two regions: The Highlands and the Lowlands or the valley of tequila.
The difference in quality and taste differs from product to product and is dependent upon the agave and production techniques. In an emerging market, it is very important to educate consumers and the trade on the qualitative aspects of tequila. The market needs to be made aware of the difference between a mix to tequila, and high-quality ultra-premium tequila.
Mixologists across the world love to experiment with innovative and interesting tequila-based drinks, as it is no longer a mere cheap foundation for obliterating, sugary-sweet cocktails. It makes for a great celebratory, summer cocktail. Most of the good tequila is produced in an old fashioned way.
The care for quality starts with great agave. The teams test the sugar content of plants and mark the fields on GPS for the richest agave that needs to be purchased. Most of the production work is done manually, even chopping of the agave. Manual chopping, as per the master distiller, causes the agave to split into splinters and that changes the taste of agave. The agave is cooked in small brick ovens slowly for about 79 hours. It is then crushed and then put it in fermentation tanks made of wood. The wood makes a difference in terms of fermentation. Post the fermentation; it is put into a very small copper pot that matches the distiller’s design. The entire process is ‘Patrónworthy’.
— The writer is regional director of marketing and commercial strategy, Asia Pac, Patron Spirits International.