When it comes to alcohol, tequila is often the life of the party. But what’s the secret ingredient that makes good tequila great? The answer is agave—the plant from which all good tequila is made. Let’s take a closer look at this unsung hero of tequila and its importance in making top-notch tequila.
What Is Agave?
Agave is a succulent plant native to Mexico, parts of Central and South America, as well as the southwestern United States. It can be grown commercially or wildcrafted from its natural habitat. Agave has been used by indigenous people for centuries to make a variety of products such as rope, paper, cloth, and even foodstuffs like flour and syrup. It also has medicinal properties, which have been used to treat various ailments. But most importantly, agave is the key ingredient in producing high-quality tequilas.
How Does Agave Make Good Tequila?
The best quality tequilas are made from 100% blue agaves that are harvested when they reach maturity (about 8-10 years). These mature plants contain higher concentrations of starches and sugars that contribute to its unique flavor profile. Once harvested, these agaves are cooked in ovens or autoclaves before being mashed and fermented using proprietary techniques developed by each distillery. This process gives each type of tequila its own distinct flavor profile and complexity.
The Different Types Of Agaves Used For Tequila Production
There are several different types of agaves used for making tequilas including blue agave (the most common), arroqueño, espadín & bicuishe (all three uncommon but increasingly popular), tobala (wild agave variety), mexicano (a hybrid), cupreata (rare) & karwinskii (uncommon). Depending on which type is used will determine whether you’re drinking a silver/blanco/plata/white or aged/golden/anejo/extra anejo variety of tequila. Each type produces slightly different flavors ranging from herbaceous & grassy notes to sweet & spicy aromatics with hints of vanilla & oak barrel aging if applicable.
All good quality tequilas owe their unique flavor profiles to one very important ingredient—agave! Whether it’s blue agave or one of its lesser known cousins, each type brings something special to the table when it comes to crafting top notch spirits. So next time you’re sipping on your favorite margarita or shotting some premium anejo remember to thank the humble agave for all its hard work! Cheers!