Tequila is an agave-based spirit made primarily in the area surrounding Tequila, convert|65|km in the northwest of Guadalajara and in the highlands ("Los Altos") of the western Mexican state of Jalisco. The volcanic soil in the region surrounding Tequila is particularly well suited to the growing of the cactus-like blue agave, and more than 300 million of the plants are harvested there each year. [http://www.ianchadwick.com/tequila/jalisco.htm] However, U.S. and Mexican laws state that tequila can be produced anywhere in Mexico, [ [http://www.ttb.gov/industry_circulars/archives/1975/75-13.html Standard of Identity of Tequila] . "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms". 1975-09-08.] and the country boasts several other tequila-producing regions.

Tequila is most often made at a 38–40% alcohol content (76–80 proof), but there are also several varieties of tequila produced with 43–46% alcohol content (86–92 proof). [cite web | url = http://www.itequila.org/besttequilas.htm | title = The Best Tequilas]


Tequila was first produced in the 16th century near the location of the city of Tequila, which was not officially established until 1656. The Aztec people had previously made a fermented beverage from the agave plant, which they called octli (later, and more popularly called pulque), long before the Spanish arrived in 1521. When the Spanish conquistadors ran out of their own brandy, they began to distill this agave drink to produce North America's first indigenous distilled spirit.cite web | url=http://www.ianchadwick.com/tequila/history.html | title=In Search of the Blue Agave: History and Legend | author=Chadwick, Ian | year=2004]

Some 80 years later, around 1600, Don Pedro Sánchez de Tagle, the Marquis of Altamira, began mass-producing tequila at the first factory in the territory of modern-day Jalisco. By 1608, the colonial governor of Nueva Galicia had begun to tax his products.

The tequila that is popular today was first mass-produced in the early 1800s in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Don Cenobio Sauza, founder of Sauza Tequila and Municipal President of the Village of Tequila from 1884-1885, was the first to export tequila to the United States. Don Cenobio's grandson Dan Javier gained international attention for insisting that "there cannot be tequila where there are no agaves!" His efforts led to the practice that real tequila can only come from the State of Jalisco.

Recent history

Since 2002, sales of ultra-premium and super-premium tequilas have grown at a rate of 28 percent. That is an average growth rate of 8.6 percent per year, as reported by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. With tequila sales last year projected to fall just short of 10 million cases, sales actually exceeded expectations by reaching well over 10 million cases as shown in the 2007 report by IWSR based on Adams Liquor Handbook. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, increasing worldwide popularity of tequila drove corporate interest in the drink. Notable developments as a result included:
* The purchase of Herradura by Brown-Forman for $776 million in September 2006. [cite web | url=http://www.brown-forman.com/news/releases/714.aspx | title=Brown-Forman Completes Casa Herradura Acquisition for $776 Million (Brown-Forman press release) | year=2006 | publisher=Brown-Forman Corporation]
* A new NOM (Norma Oficial Mexicana) for tequila (NOM-006-SCFI-2005) was issued in 2006, and among other changes, introduced a category of tequila called "extra añejo" or "ultra-aged" which must be aged a minimum of 3 years.cite web | url=http://www.ordenjuridico.gob.mx/Federal/PE/APF/APC/SE/Normas/Oficiales/NOM-006-SCFI-2005.pdf | title=NORMA OFICIAL MEXICANA NOM-006-SCFI-2005, BEBIDAS ALCOHÓLICAS-TEQUILA-ESPECIFICACIONES. | author=Romo, Miguel Aguilar - El Director General de Normas | year=2006|format=PDF]
* The purchase of the Sauza and El Tesoro brands by massive holding company Fortune Brands. [cite web | url=http://www.fortunebrands.com/brands/spirits.cfm | title=Fortune Brands: Our Brands | publisher=Fortune Brands | year=2005]

Although some tequilas have remained as family owned brands, most well-known tequila brands are owned by large multinational corporations. However, there are over 100 distilleries making over six hundred brands of tequila in Mexico and over 2,000 brand names have been registered.

The Tequila Regulatory Council of Mexico originally did not permit flavored tequila to carry the tequila name.Arias, Guillermo. [http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2004-11-28-tequila-identity_x.htm Tequila struggles to define itself in Mexico] . "Associated Press". USA Today. 2004-11-28.] In 2004, the Council decided to allow flavored tequila to be called tequila, with the exception of pure agave tequila, which still could not be flavored.

A one-liter bottle of limited-edition premium tequila was sold for $225,000 in July 2006 in Tequila, Jalisco, by the company Tequila Ley .925. The bottle which contains the tequila is a two-kilo display of platinum and gold. The manufacturer has received the Certificate from Guinness World Records for the most expensive bottle of liquor ever sold. [cite news|title=Bottle of Tequila Sold for $225,000|publisher=Associated Press Online|date=July 23, 2006]

2006 Tequila Trade Agreement

In 2003, Mexico issued proposal that would require all Mexican-made tequila be bottled in Mexico before being exported to other countries. [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/09/25/national/main575069.shtml Tequila Sparks U.S.-Mexico Flap] . "Associated Press". CBS News. 2003-09-25.] The Mexican government said that bottling tequila in Mexico would guarantee its quality. Liquor companies in the United States said that Mexico just wanted to create bottling jobs in their own country. Liquor companies in the United States also claimed this rule would violate international trade agreements and was in discord with usual exporting practices worldwide. [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10896928/ Salt, tequila, trade agreement] . "MSNBC News Services". MSNBC. 2006-01-17.] The proposal may have resulted in the loss of jobs at plants in California, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kentucky, because Mexican tequila exported in bulk to the United States is bottled in those plants. On January 17, 2006, the United States and Mexico signed an agreement allowing the continued bulk import of tequila into the United States. [http://www.caltradereport.com/eWebPages/front-page-1137970345.html Viva Margarita! US, Mexico Ink New Tequila Agreement] . "CalTrade Report". 2006-01-23.] [ [http://www.ustr.gov/assets/World_Regions/Americas/asset_upload_file897_8763.pdf Agreement Between the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the Secretaría de Economía of the United Mexican States on Trade in Tequila] (pdf). 2006-01-17.] The agreement also created a "tequila bottlers registry" to identify approved bottlers of tequila and created an agency to monitor the registry.


:"For more detail on TMA, see the entry in Tequila agave"TMA ("tristeza y muerte de agave") is a blight that has reduced the production of the agave grown to produce tequila. This has resulted in lower production and higher prices throughout the early 2000s, and due to the long maturation of the plant, will likely continue to affect prices for years to come. [cite web | url=http://www.ianchadwick.com/tequila/news.html | title=In Search of the Blue Agave: Industry News & Information | author=Chadwick, Ian | year=2004]

Types of tequila

There are two basic categories of tequila: mixtos and 100% Agave. Mixtos use up to 49% of other sugars in the fermentation process, with Agave taking up the remainder. Agave sugar is fructose-based, and is easier for the human body to break down. Mixtos use both glucose and fructose sugars.

With 100% agave tequila, blanco or plata is harsher with the bold flavors of the distilled agave up front, while reposado and añejo are smoother, subtler, and more complex. As with other spirits that are aged in casks, tequila takes on the flavors of the wood, while the harshness of the alcohol mellows. The major flavor distinction with 100% agave tequila is the base ingredient, which is more vegetal than grain spirits (and often more complex).

Tequila is usually bottled in one of five categories:
*"blanco" ("white") or "plata" ("silver") – white spirit, un-aged and bottled or stored immediately after distillation, or aged less than two months in oak barrels;
*"oro" ("gold") – un-aged "blanco" tequila, blended with rested or aged tequilas, and often with caramel coloring, sugar-based syrup, glycerin, and/or oak extract added so as to resemble aged tequila;
*"reposado" ("rested") – aged a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak barrels;
*"añejo" ("aged" or "vintage") – aged a minimum of one year, but less than 3 years in oak barrels;
*"extra añejo" ("extra aged" or "ultra aged") – aged a minimum of three years in oak barrels. This category was established in March 2006.

It is a common misconception that some tequilas contain a 'worm' in the bottle. Only certain mezcals, usually from the state of Oaxaca, are ever sold "con gusano," and that only began as a marketing gimmick in the 1940s. The worm is actually the larval form of the moth Hypopta agavis that lives on the agave plant. Finding one in the plant during processing indicates an infestation and, correspondingly, a lower quality product. ("Note: for more information on how tequila is made, see mezcal.") However this misconception continues, and even with all the effort and marketing to represent tequila as a premium—similar to the way Cognac is viewed in relation to brandy—there are some opportunist producers for the shooters and fun market who blur these boundaries. [cite book | first = James | last = Waller | title = Drinkology: The Art and Science of the Cocktail | location = New York | publisher = Stewart, Tabori & Chang | year = 2003 | isbn = 1-58479-304-X | pages = p. 224 | quote = Let's get the whole worm thing straight right now, "muchachos". If there's a worm at the bottom of your tequila bottle, you've either purchased gag-inducing hooch aimed at gullible gringos, or your top-shelf booze is infested by some kind of alcohol-breathing, alien bug.]


There are many brands of tequila; the best known include:

* Casa Noble
* Jose Cuervo
* Don Julio
* Patrón
* Partida Tequila
* Cabo Wabo

Drinking Tequila

:"See also List of cocktails with tequila"In Mexico, tequila is drunk straight, without salt and lime. It is popular in some regions to drink fine tequila with a side of sangrita—a sweet, sour and spicy drink typically made from orange juice, grenadine (or tomato juice) and hot chilies. Equal-sized shots of tequila and sangrita are sipped alternately, without salt or lime. [cite web | url = http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/kgk/2000/0500/completo.html | title = Recipe: Mexican Sangrita & Tequila "Completo" | accessdate = 2008-04-25]

Outside Mexico, a single shot of tequila is often served with salt and a slice of lime. This is called "tequila cruda" and is sometimes referred to as "training wheels," "lick-sip-suck," or "lick-shoot-suck" (referring to the way in which the combination of ingredients is imbibed). The drinker moistens the back of their hand below the index finger (usually by licking) and pours on the salt. Then the salt is licked off the hand, tequila is drunk and the fruit slice is quickly bitten. It is common for groups of drinkers to do this simultaneously. Drinking tequila in this way is often erroneously called a Tequila Slammer, however this is a mixed tequila and carbonated drink. Though the traditional Mexican shot is straight tequila, lime is the fruit of choice when a chaser must be used. [cite web | url = http://www.itequila.org/drink.htm | title = How To Drink Tequila | accessdate = 2008-04-25] It is believed that the salt lessens the "burn" of the tequila and the sour fruit balances and enhances the flavor. In Germany and some other countries, tequila oro (gold) is often consumed with cinnamon before and slices of orange after, while tequila blanco (silver) is consumed with salt and lime. Finally, as with other popular liquors, there exist a number of shot-related drinking games and "stunt" drinks such as body shots and the tequila stuntman.

It should be noted that drinking higher-quality, 100% agave tequila with salt and lime is likely to remove much of the flavor.

Tequila Glasses

When served neat (without any additional ingredients), tequila is most often served in a narrow shot glass called a caballito ("Little Horse" in Spanish), [cite web | title=In search of the blue agave Part 7 of 14 | author=Chadwick, Ian | year=2004 | url=http://www.ianchadwick.com/tequila/buying.html] but can often be found in anything from a snifter to a tumbler.

The Consejo Regulador del Tequila (Tequila Regulatory Council) approved an "official tequila glass" in 2002 called the Ouverture Tequila glass, made by Riedel. [cite web | url=http://www.atlantasfinestdining.com/hardware/reidel/index.html | title=RIEDEL INTRODUCES OFFICIAL TEQUILA GLASS | date=2002-04-12 | publisher=Atlanta's Finest Dining.com]

The margarita glass, rimmed with salt, sugar, or plain, is a staple for the entire tequila/fruit mixed drink genre, including the margarita itself.

Other Drinks

There are an endless variety of drinks that involve tequila, relying only on the imagination of the preparer. As with most of the hard liquors, there is a martini variant that involves tequila as well as a large number of tequila drinks made by adding a fruit juice such as the Tequila Sunrise and Matador. Sodas and other carbonated drinks are a common mixer, as in the Tequila Slammer.

Popular culture

It is a common misconception that tequila is fermented from cactus. Agaves and cacti are both types of succulents, but are members of different botanical classes (Liliopsida and Cactaceae, respectively).

Tequila is a common topic of popular culture, ranging from films that simply use the name, such as "Tequila Sunrise" (1988) to songs about the drink. According to Tom Robbins's book "Still Life with Woodpecker" tequila is the preferred drink of outlaws. Sandra Lee of the Food Network refers to tequila as "her friend." In song, tequila is diversely portrayed, ranging from Jimmy Buffett's semi-serious "Margaritaville" to The Eagles' maudlin "Tequila Sunrise". The track "Mexican Cousin," off Phish's "Round Room" pays tribute to the drink stating "Oh tequila, I turn to you like a long lost friend. I wanna kiss my Mexican Cousin once again" and continues to refer to the drink as the band's "Mexican Cousin". Tequila even enters the popular news media. For example, Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic outburst when arrested for drunk driving was attributed to tequila consumption. [cite web | url=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15235573/ | title=Mel Gibson didn’t mean what he said: ‘Road Warrior’ continues to blame tequila, not himself, for bigoted rant | author=Popkin, Helen A.S. | date=2006-08-16 | publisher=MSNBC] Sammy Hagar, rock star (singer of the bar anthem "Mas Tequila" [cite web | url=http://www.sing365.com/music/Lyric.nsf/Mas-Tequila-lyrics-Sammy-Hagar/61E79E2880E2A15148256EDE000F957A | title=Mas Tequila lyrics] ) and owner of Cabo Wabo Tequila described tequila's stigma as, "the stuff that you go, 'I will never drink that as long as I live,' and you have gotten sick in college on rot-gut tequila." This image of tequila as the instigator of particularly egregious intoxication and hangovers is pervasive in references to the drink in popular culture. [cite web | url=http://www.tequilaaficionado.com/article.php?sid=133 | title=Interview with Sammy Hagar from Cabo Wabo Tequila | publisher=Tequila Aficionado Magazine | year=2006]

Additionally, singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette has penned an ode to tequila entitled "On The Tequila" for the Flavors of Entanglement sessions, and says tequila has helped her balance things out in her life. [ [http://blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic/2008/01/alanis-morisset.html Pop Music | Tampabay.com - St. Petersburg Times: Archives ] ]

Tequila plays a role in the climactic scene of "Funhouse", the season two finale of the HBO Original Series "The Sopranos". In this episode, the character Sal "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero asks several members of the crew if there is any good tequila available, knowing that he is about to be killed and wanting a final drink with his longtime friends. [ [http://www.hbo.com/sopranos/episode/season2/episode26.shtml HBO: The Sopranos: Episode Guide: Summary: Season 2: Episode 26 ] ]

In the United States, National Tequila Day is July 24. [ [http://www.thatsthespirit.com/en/entertaining/calendar.asp?month=7 2008 Occasion Calendar] ]

In the Mexican telenovela, Destilando Amor, the production of Tequila, and how it is made plays a role of the storyline. Part of the show takes place on Agave fields.


replace broken link with http://www.ianchadwick.com/tequila/index.html

External links

* [http://www.tequileros.org National Chamber for the Tequila Industry]
* [http://www.crt.org.mx Consejo Regulador del Tequila A.C.]
* [http://www.ustr.gov/assets/Document_Library/Press_Releases/2006/January/asset_upload_file897_8762.pdf United States and Mexico Reach Agreement on Tequila (PDF)]

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