How is tequila made

Tequila is a distilled spirit that is produced only in Mexico, and only then in the Tequila region. The juice from the heart of the agave plant is fermented and distilled twice to make tequila. The production of tequila must comply with the strict regulations established by the Mexican government.
To make tequila, you need to start with mature blue agave plants, which take eight to 10 years to mature. When the plants have reached their peak of maturity, the leaves are removed and only the heart or “piña” is used in making tequila. These cores can weigh anywhere from 40 to 80 pounds, with some even heavier.

The pineapples are then taken to the distillery where they are cut up for roasting. The pineapples are roasted in special ovens and the starches in the hearts are turned into sugar. Each pineapple yields approximately 8 bottles of tequila. After baking, the pineapples are crushed and passed through a press. The press squeezes the juice from the crushed pineapple pulp. The juices are then extracted from the crushed pulp and placed in fermentation tanks.

Once the juices are in the fermentation tanks, the yeast is added. The distillers have their own technique for adding the yeast. At this point, the yeast begins to act on the sugars in the roasted pulp, converting it into alcohol.

The juices now ferment for 30 to 48 hours. Without further processing, fermented pineapple juice has an alcohol content of approximately 6%. The fermented juice is distilled two or even triple times in traditional copper stills or more modern stills that are made of stainless steel. The first distillation is always a coarse distillate with a low alcohol content and the second or third pass is used to purify and perfect the liquor. Ultimately, the distillers want to create a product that captures the aroma of the agave while tasting as pure as possible. The alcohol content can be between 70 and 110 Proof.

This becomes your basic white tequila or silver tequila. Oro, or gold, tequila requires 2 months of aging in oak barrels. Reposado tequila, or “rested tequila,” must be aged for up to one year. Añejo tequila is a premium tequila and must be aged in oak for at least one year. Many producers age the añejo for many years. This is considered the best tequila available and will be very expensive.

*Per Mexican government guidelines, all tequilas must be aged for at least 14-21 days. To be called “Tequila”, it must be made with 100 percent natural ingredients and have at least 38% alcohol. Most importantly, it must be made from blue agave grown and harvested only in the Mexican states of Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, or Tamaulipas.

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