Another from the series an interesting fact about ……. is my attempt to shed a little light into the interesting world of spirits and liqueurs. Many spirits have interesting and chequered histories. Tequila is one example. It is synonymous with Mexico of course because like cognac or champagne it has protected geographical status. It has to be from the Jalisco area of Mexico centred around the town of Tequila – to be called tequila.
Tequila is like rum in many ways, in terms of how it is produced and marketed. It is from the Americas as rum is, and is sold in similar styles.
It comes in light and gold varieties and there are aged versions which can sell for premium rates as a malt whisky would for £30 or so. You don’t find them up in the hundreds though as you might a fine cognac or malt whisky.
The ‘entry’ level version is clear, and is labelled blanco (white) or is referred to as silver tequila in cocktail recipes. It is the easiest to mix too because it has no colour. Typically this is what you’d find in either a Tequila Sunrise or a Margarita.
For similar pricing, you will find golden rum, which is usually labelled reposado – which means ‘rested.’ The colour comes from the fact that the distilled spirit is left to ‘rest’ in barrels for a period of time. For me this period of maturation improves most spirits : rum, tequila, plus whisky and french brandy of course which have to be aged in order to get their title.
Finally the most expensive expression and rarest of the 3 is Anejo (meaning ‘aged’.) This is therefore older and more mellow. You may well sip this as you would a fine cognac or malt whisky. In fact at the time of writing (summer ’16) a bottle of Patron anejo is around £50 – so is right up there with malt in terms of pricing.
Tequila is the most recent of the spirits to become widely available in Britain. I’ve even got cocktail books from the early 80s which don’t mention it at all. Surprisingly.
It’s been around and manufactured commercially since the 1750s but like cocktails themselves, again it was prohibition that gave tequila it’s big boost. When the Americans were banned from producing alcoholic liquor, they sought help from their neighbours! And who are their neighbours? Yes the Mexicans. So massive quantities were smuggled across the border during this period. Once tequila had arrived, it was there to stay. And so tequila joins the list of the Big 6 spirits.