Distilled from blue agave, tequila is a national point of pride for Mexico. In fact, you can tour the agave landscapes of Mexico similar to Napa’s wineries. Tequila gets its name from the town of Tequila located northwest of Guadalajara in the Mexican state of Jalisco.
Gold (a.k.a. oro) is also un-aged, but contains caramel coloring & wood extract to make it seem like it was aged in oak casks.
Reposado means that the tequila is aged or “rested” in an oak barrel for at least 2 months, but < 1 year.
Añejo receives the same treatment as reposado, but is aged for 1 to 3 years.
Agave means that the tequila is made with a higher percentage of the agave plant (all tequilas must be 51% agave or more), & in most cases it denotes 100% agave.
When tasting tequila, a maximum of five samples is recommended. Start from simple tequilas and advance to the more complex. A wine glass or brandy snifter is ideal for tasting. If you don’t have either, you can always use the original tasting vessel, a hollowed-out bull horn. Note the following:
1. Sight – The tequila should produce a “pearl” or “conch” (a bubble that remains on the surface). No bubble means it’s not 100% agave. Also look for the “legs” as you swirl the tequila. They should be continuous and not break quickly to show that it has retained its essential oils.
2. Smell – Swirl tequila in glass. Breathe in.
3. Taste – Sip a small amount. Hold in mouth for ~ 10 seconds, move it around & gently suck air to bring the aromas up to the nose. Breathe out nose before swallowing.
4. Touch – Perceptions of touch are experienced in the mouth, like harshness or smoothness. When tequila is harsh, it produces a bite or a sensation of warmth; when smooth, the tongue feels a velvety softness.