Tequila is made from the Blue Agave plant. Only one of the 300+ species of agave is permitted by the Tequila Regulatory Council to produce tequila-agave azul tequilana ; this plant will grow for 5-7 years before being harvested. It can only be made made primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, 65 kilometres northwest of Guadalajara and in the highlands (Los Altos) of the western Mexican state of Jalisco.
Mexican laws state that tequila can be produced only in the state of Jalisco and limited regions in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. Mexico has claimed the exclusive international right to the word “tequila”.
There are two basic categories of tequila: mixtos and 100% agave. Mixtos use no less than 51% agave, with other sugars making up the remainder. 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 stainless steel or neutral oak barrels;
* Joven (“young”) or oro (“gold”): is the result of blending Silver Tequila with Reposado and/or Añejo and/or extra Añejo 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 three years in oak barrels;
* Extra Añejo (“extra aged” or “ultra aged”): aged a minimum of three years in oak barrels.
Many Tequila brands are owned by multi-national companies such as Sauza, Jose Cuervo, Patron and Herradurra but there are still many family owned Tequilas with high quality Tequila produced on a small scale such as Tapatio, Corralejo.