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Making of Tequila

There are about 220 species of Agave, of which approximately 170 are native to Mexico. They have been used for more than 1000 years, as can be prepared from their ropes. From one of the Agave species, however, can produce something else: Tequila. Therefore, the blue agave bears the Latin name Agave tequilana.  

The production of tequila can be divided into three steps:

1. The growing and harvesting of the agave

2. The fermentation of Jima

3. The distillation of the fermented Agavenjuice

Optionally, then in a fourth step still maturing of the tequilas are made.

Cultivation and harvesting of Agave

The region around the town of Tequila in Jalisco, Mexico, offers excellent climatic conditions and fertile soil. Here flourish the blue agave from which tequila is made.The Tequila Desillerien, which have their headquarters here, partly build agave exclusively in their own fields, but usually they buy goods added.

The Blue Agave takes eight to nine years, until it is ready for harvest. At the age of 5-6 years to cut her from the tips of the leaves, in order to build more sugar is so important for tequila production plants heart. The subsequent harvesting has not changed in principle for several decades. A "Jimador" (harvesters) hacks before the digging of the plant heart with traditional, mostly handmade tools initially pointed agave leaves off, then cut into about 40 cm depth of planting heart (which also Pina, that pineapple is called, because it visually similarities with a pineapple has) from the roots and dig it out. The plant heart after all, then a weight of about 50 kg (in the lowlands are the heart slightly smaller). A good day Jimador creates up to 150 agaves.

After harvesting, the plants halved hearts are cooked in ovens between 60 ° C and 85 ° C for 24-36 hours under steam and then cooled for 24 hours. Traditionally, this process takes in brick kilns, steel furnaces in modern plants are used, as obtained by this higher cooking temperatures and faster cooling processes without sacrificing quality. During cooking, the plants Hearts lose a lot of their liquid. As for the cooling fluid is still present in the plant parts, they are crushed and irradiated with water so that further juice and sugar can be released from the plant.

The fermentation of Jima

Add the syrup obtained by the fermentation of sugar can now be converted into alcohol. Yeasts are added to the agave juice for this fermentation process, which provide as with other alcoholic beverages such as beer for the formation of alcohol. For "real" Tequila is the way, does not use yeast, but a bacterium ( Zymomonasmobili s)."Genuine" Tequila is thus a special feature. In the early days of tequila production of this bacterium was introduced into the blood by one of the employees in the barrel has increased since this bacterium is found on human skin.

The fermentation takes 5-10 days, today it is often accelerated by chemical additives, so that it is complete after 36-72 days. The fermented juice then contains about 5% alcohol.

The distillation of the fermented Agavenjuice

The fermented juice is then distilled. In this way, volatile impurities such as methane-alcohol eliminated and the alcohol concentration can be increased. The law requires two distillations for tequila distilleries in some three distillations are made. After the first distillation, the alcohol content sth 20-30%, after the second distillation to 50%.Subsequently, the Tequila can be let down with distilled water to the desired alcohol content (usually 40%). The distillation process takes between four and eight hours and results in a completely clear tequila. This can now be as white tequila (blanco) bottled and sold directly in bottles. Depending on the desired character of the tequilas but it can also be stored in wooden barrels. Due to the positioning he the focus is taken. The longer the storage, the milder and more full-bodied it is and the more influence the different flavors.

The Mexican law requires that a tequila must be aged for a minimum of 2 months resposado needs and a tequila anejo at least one year matured.Since 2006, a new category has been introduced: tequila extra anejo. This must be aged for at least three years. In contrast to other alcoholic beverages such as whiskey is entered at Tequila assume that after a certain maturation period of about four years, no further more quality can be obtained.

In general, provides a tequila distillery produces different varieties of tequila that is, from a manufacturer both a version of the blanco, anejo of resposado and be prepared.

Classification of Tequilas/Klassifizierung des Tequilas

The Mexican Authority Regulating Body del Tequila, short CRT is a commission of experts to monitor the strict legal requirements for the production of tequila.Production facilities are provided by the CRT with so-called NOM and DOT identification number, which must be indicated on the bottle label. Depending on the manufacturing process can be divided into different categories of tequila. 

Appearance of the Most

100% Agave Azul Tequila is called when 100% of the sugar to alcohol derived from agave syrup production. In addition, the bottles must be bottled in Mexico ("Hecho en México"), to carry this designation must. The barrel is opened only under the supervision of the CTR and the tequila be bottled especially for the aged tequilas. The label "100% agave azul" therefore represents a quality feature for a tequila. 

Tequila Mixto is a mixture of sugar from the agave azul (at least 51%) and sugar from other sources (preferably cane sugar). The alcohol content after distillation is usually around 55%. The dilution with distilled water to drinking strength may also be carried out at a mixto tequila bottlers when abroad.Due to the manufacturing process a mixto tequila is rather to be regarded as a lower quality tequila. Therefore, he is recognized as a rule, not the word "mixto" on the label (which there rather is omitted), but the absence of the words "1oo% agave azul".

Maturity of Tequilas

Depending on the duration of the maturity of tequilas different varieties can be made ​​of tequila. In general, a tequila distillery offers all the standard varieties to (read: the distillery X is giving it usually three different tequilas, an XY blanco, an XY reposado and an XY añejo, it is strongly export-oriented, it has the abroad perhaps even an XY mixto and an XY oro offered). 

  • The tequila blanco (on the German market often silver called) is a clear, colorless tequila is bottled immediately after distillation in bottles. The lack of storage it tastes fruity than the stored      tequilas, but often sharper.
  • The tequila reposado is stored for two to twelve months in oak barrels before bottling. As a result, the focus is taken away from the tequila. The tequila reposado tequila is the most commonly offered in Mexico.
  • The Tequila añejo is a tequila that is aged in oak barrels for between one and three years. It is mandatory that the barrels of 600 liters size can not exceed it. The alcohol content is regulated as with all tequilas after storage in distilled water.
  • The category of Tequila Extra-añejo was introduced in 2006. This designation may take a tequila that in more than three years has mounted oak barrels. Only rarely exceeds the duration of the storage of these tequilas four years since usually in another storage no more quality improvement can be achieved.
  • The Tequila Oro (on the German market often gold called) is a mixture of tequila blanco with reposado (would also be permissible añejo tequila). This tequila may be additionally mixed with up to 1% of its weight with additives. Which in many cases means: Tequila oro often contains food coloring to suggest a higher reposado content.