#2. The Tequila-Making Process Takes Years
Blue agave is a succulent, just like your girlfriend’s … houseplants. The agave plants are grown on plantations, and after eight to 10 years, their cores, or pinas — so called because they look like pineapples, and pina is Spanish for pineapple — are harvested manually by a person known as a jimador.
At this point the pinas weigh between about 60 and 130 pounds, and will produce one liter of tequila for every 17 or so pounds of agave. The pinas are split open and steamed in a pressure cooker, and the resulting juices flow into a steel vat for fermentation, which can take up to a few days. The liquid then needs to be distilled twice before it can be called tequila.
#3. There Are Five Types Of Tequila
That’s how many the Mexican government recognizes. Here’s a breakdown:
• Tequila silver, or to be more proper, plata or blanco tequila, is the blue agave’s juice in its purest form, as the liquor is un-aged, and bottles are often filled directly after distillation. It tastes pretty mild, as tequilas go.
• Tequila gold, which you most likely pounded (and later regurgitated) in college, often has colors and flavors added to it, and is the typical “rail” tequila you’ll find in bars.
• Reposado is the most popular tequila in Mexico; it’s aged in oak barrels for two to 11 months, and takes on some of the golden coloring from the wood as well as some of the flavors.
• Anejo must be aged for one year, and like reposado, takes on the colors and flavors of its wooden casks, though since it has aged longer, it’s more complex and robust. Anejo is considered a true sipping tequila.
• Extra anejo was first recognized as a class of tequila in 2006, and must be aged for a minimum of three years in a cask no larger than 600 millimeters. It’s said that the flavors in extra anejo become so rich and complex that it starts to become difficult to distinguish it from other high-end, aged liquors.