Tequila might be the most misunderstood spirit in the world. While many of us associate Mexico’s national drink with shot glasses and table salt, this unique spirit is capable of showing depth and complexity comparable to Cognac or single malt.
Everyone is familiar with Tequila, but the quality and range of flavours it represents is often underestimated. Styles vary greatly from producer-to-producer and region-to-region, each one offering a specific combination of fruity, spicy and herbal characteristics derived from the heart of the agave.
THE SACRED AGAVE
The blue agave has been a part of life in Mesoamerica for millennia. To the Aztec people, the spiky succulent was food, medicine and sacrament. They wove the fibres from its leaves, burned its husks for fuel, and extracted the liquid from its core to make a wine called pulque. Mayahuel, the goddess of the agave, was directly associated with the transformation of the agave’s sweet sap into alcohol.
When Spanish conquistadors arrived in the early-16th century they carried with them copper alembics from the old world, which – having exhausted their supplies of brandy – they turned to distilling the native pulque. The first vino de mezcal, as these early spirits were known, were enjoyed throughout the region centuries before the founding of the modern state of Mexico.