So what exactly is it? Tequila was first distilled in the 1500-1600's in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. Guadalajara is the capital of Jalisco and the city of Tequila was established in about 1656. This is where the agave plant grows best.
The agave is not a cactus as rumored, but belongs to the lily family and has long spiny leaves (pincas). The specific plant that is used to make tequila is the Weber blue agave. It takes 8-12 years for the agave to reach maturity. During harvest, the leaves are cut off leaving the heart of the plant or pina, which looks like a large pineapple.
Here are the grades of tequila:
- Blanco:100% agave tequila that is unaged and untreated with additives.
- Reposado:100% agave, 'rested' tequila that has been stored in oak between two months and one year.
- Anejo:100% agave, aged tequila that has been stored in oak at least one year.
- Mixto blanco: mixed tequila that is unaged.
- Mixto reposado: mixed tequila that has been stored in oak between two months and one year.
- Mixto anejo: aged mixed tequila that has been stored in oak at least one year.
- Joven abocado: mixed tequila that has been treated with additives to achieve an effect similar to aging.