How is Tequila made?: Distillation

Ever wonder how Tequila is made? You’ll often see Tequilas boast about being distilled twice or even three times. So let us let you in on a little secret: every Tequila is distilled twice and distilling more than that could actually make the Tequila taste worse.

Let’s start with the number of times Tequila needs to be distilled. Remember, we start by roasting agave, crushing them and then fermenting that juice. So far we only have a liquid that has 5% alcohol content. So we then distill it, separating the alcohol from the water, and we get something called Ordinario which has between 20% and 25% alcohol. But all Tequila has to (by law!) be between 35% and 55% alcohol, so we give it a second distillation and that gets up to between 50% and 55%. This is what every single Tequila company must do. This resulting Blanco Tequila is either bottled or aged to become Reposado and Anejo tequila

So is there anything in the distillation process that allows Tequilas to distinguish themselves? Yes! The first and last parts of Ordinario or Tequila to be distilled are called the tops and the tails of the distillation. They contain alcohols you definitely don’t want to drink (because…science). The skill of the master distiller is knowing just where the cut off points are to only keep the best alcohols.

So what about distilling 3 times? The fact is that every time Tequila is distilled, congeners – the molecules that give liquor their taste – get sacrificed. More distilling, less flavor.

By the way, at Tres Agaves we only distill twice in copper-lined stills. Our master distiller, Iliana Partida, is a 4th generation Tequilera so brings years of knowledge with her to craft a smoother, brighter Tequila.

Salud!

Bartending Tips – Provided by Tres Agaves

Buenos días, amigos! As a company whose mission is to help people create authentic Mexican cocktailsa, Tres Agaves is all about giving you, the home bartender, all the tools you need to do just that. Our organic 100% de Agave Tequila and organic margarita mixes are a start, but any good mixologist (amateur or professional) knows the ingredients are half the job. You need to know what you’re doing to make a refreshing cocktail.

That’s why we’ve reached out to our favorite mixologists on social media for their best and most useful bartending tips so we can help you make bar-quality cocktails at home. Here are a couple from two of our favorite mixologists: Tanner Johnson (@thebarologist) and Jason Yu (@jasonfyu).

“The importance of jigger use to stay consistent even when you think free pouring is cooler and ‘you have your pour count down.” – Tanner Johnson

“Work clean! Always make sure tools are clean and rinsed before and after each use.” – Jason Yu

Dispelling Tequila Myths

Tequila has long had a lot of myths and misinformation surrounding it, which has resulted in it having a certain reputation. But now it’s time to clear up those myths so that you can enjoy tequila in all its glory.  

The Worm

Contrary to popular belief, a bottle of Tequila should never have a worm in it. Some low-quality mezcals contain worms, but it’s best practice to never drink any bottle with a worm in it. By the way, in reality, the worm isn’t really a worm at all, it’s the larvae from a butterfly caterpillar. The more you know.

Tequila is Guaranteed to Give You a Hangover  

No, only bad Tequila is more likely to do that (and only if you drink too much of it, which you should never do). There are two main ways to make tequila: one where 100% of the alcohol comes from the agave plant (100% de Agave Tequila), and another where only 51% of the alcohol needs to come from agave (Misto). It is the Misto that can make your head hurt, mostly because the non-agave alcohol content is frequently of poor quality to keep the price low.  The moral of the story: always buy 100% de Agave Tequila (and if you could make it Tres Agaves, that would be nice) 

You should only use Blanco for cocktails:  

While a Blanco is most popularly used in cocktails, really any Tequila varietal can make a great cocktail.  Try mixing our Reposado in your margarita for a little darker, smokier taste. You can also sub in. tequila for other alcohols in cocktails: try making a Manhattan with Añejo instead of whiskey. 

Tequila is produced from any agave, anywhere in Mexico 

It’s actually a lot more specific than that. Tequila can only be made from the Blue Weber agave, which (by the way) is not a cactus but a member of the lily family, and closely related to yucca, beargrass, and sotol.  What’s more, there are only five states legally permitted to produce Tequila.  While the majority of Tequila comes from the state of Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas have municipal districts sanctioned to produce Tequila.  

All Tequila Tastes the Same 

Definitely not! Just like wine, Tequilas have terroire, an element of taste that comes from the environment where the agave was grown. Tres Agaves is made from agave grown in the Tequila Valley. The plants are older, the soil is more volcanic, and the weather is hotter and wetter. This results in spicier tequilas with a strong citrus element. In contrast, Los Altos (The Highlands) area, has soil that is rich in iron and weather that is both cooler and dryer. This results in slightly sweeter tequilas with hints of vanilla and fruit.   

There you have it – a few of Tequila’s most popular misbeliefs dispelled. Check out our products, we sell organic 100% de Agave Tequila and organic cocktail mixers. We have dozens of delicious cocktails recipes to step your bartending game up, as well! Salud.

Tequila History: Part Two

Blue Weber Agave before being harvested and turned into 100% de Agave Tequila

And here continues the history of Tequila. In June, we explained the roots of Tequila in the Aztec civilization and how the Spaniards distilled agave spirits to create a brandy-substitute. Now let’s see how Tequila came to be known as ‘Tequila” and the Mexican government’s promotion of the spirit.

The 1700s to 1800s AD: 
In 1758, the King of Spain granted Senior José Antonio Cuervo the rights to cultivate land in Mexico, laying the foundation of the Jose Cuervo brand, the largest producer and exporter of Tequila today.  In 1858, Don Cenobio Sauza fell in love with agave farming, founding Sauza Tequila and beginning the great rivalry between Sauza and Cuervo. During the mid-1800s, the Blue Weber agave was identified as the ideal plant for Tequila and insisting the spirit can only be made from this strain of agave.  Previously, various types of agave species were used; today, many of those agave species are distilled into mezcal. In 1873, Tequila was first exported to and made its debut in the United States, thanks to the work of the original Tequila families.  After Mexico gained independence in 1823, Tequila became a symbol of national pride, as European spirits were cast aside. The popularity of the spirit grew outside of Mexico as Prohibition in the US pushed American imbibers to smuggle the agave spirit into the US, and again during World War II when the decreased supply of European spirits.  As a result of this growing demand, the Mexican government created new regulations and two government bodies to oversee production and exportation.

The 1900s AD:
Mexico, aware of Tequila’s international renown, declared the term “Tequila” as its intellectual property through various treaties and international agreements, giving the country the unique right as the only country with legal rights to produce “Tequila”.  With Mexico now the sole exporter of Tequila, the industry boomed. To protect the fast-growing industry becoming symbolic of the country, the Mexican government instituted regulations ensuring a high level of quality in Tequila production. One of the most important rules is the guidance that, to be called Tequila, the spirit must contain at least 51% Blue Weber Agave. Agave-distilled spirits with only 51% Blue Weber Agave are called mixto – the remaining 49% of the spirit is made from low-quality sugars.

A true, high-quality Tequila should be made with 100% Blue Weber Agave. Tres Agaves is proud to use single-source, 100% de Agave Tequila. Now you’ve read the history of Tequila, how it grew from its prehispanic, ritualistic roots, to become the symbol of Mexican national pride it is today. It’s time to sip some yourself! Find our 100% de Agave Tequila near you.

History of the Sangrita


While one typically thinks of salt and lime when imagining what should accompany Tequila, there is another authentic Mexican companion to the 100% de agave spirit.  Sangrita (“little blood” in Spanish) is a citrus-heavy mixture of orange, lime, and pomegranate juice, powdered chiles, and other spices, and was born in Jalisco, Mexico, the same state Tequila calls home. 

Sangrita is believed to the result of a mixture of leftover juices from pico de gallo, a fruit salad popular in Guadalajara.  When the salad was consumed, the leftover juices were poured into small clay cups and imbibed alongside the post-meal Tequila, a well-noted digestif. As Sangrita has made its way north in the United States, the recipe has adopted a more savory flavor profile. Americans have added tomato juice to meet the level of citrus juices. 

Sangrita isn’t meant to muffle the strong citrus and herby flavors of Tequila. It is meant to sip alongside the spirit, so its savory and citrusy flavors can amplify Tequila’s terroir.  When drinking our award-winning, organic 100% de agave Tequila, we can’t recommend Sangrita enough.  If you’re looking to cover up sting of low-quality Tequila, stick to salt and lime. 

Mexican recipe:
Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2 ounces fresh orange juice
  • 4 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 5–10 dashes hot sauce (more or less to taste)
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt

Directions
Combine all ingredients and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.

American recipe:
Ingredients

  • ¼ medium white onion
  • ½ dried ancho chili
  • 1 jalapeño, halved
  • 4 ounces tomato juice (Sacramento)
  • 4 ounces fresh orange juice
  • 3 ounces fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon Maggi seasoning
  • ½ stalk of celery
  • ¼ medium cucumber
  • Salt

Directions
On a grill or in a cast iron pan, roast onion, ancho chili and half the jalapeño for 4–5 minutes, until onions begin to char. Remove from heat and place in a blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth, and salt to taste. Let sit for 10 minutes. Strain finely before serving.

Recipes from: Dylan Garret, Senior Digital Editor of WineEnthusiast (https://www.winemag.com/gallery/a-tale-of-two-sangritas/#gallery-carousel-1)

History of Tequila: Part One

Man harvesting agave

In the United States, Tequila is a beloved and revered spirit. Oftentimes, Tequila is imbibed during festivities and fiestas, either alone, with a pinch of salt and squeeze of lime juice, or in a refreshing margarita. But where did Tequila come from and who created it? Let’s dive into the history of Tequila, beginning with the spirit’s origin story.

1000 BC to 200 AD:

The story of Tequila begins with the Aztecs, a civilization native to Mesoamerica, whose advancements in social, political, and financial areas were among the greatest on the American continent.

The Aztecs were using the fibrous leaves of the maguey, a partiocular species of agave, ’to make clothing, rope, and mats. The sharp tips of the plant were used as needles.

Eventually, the Aztecs learned to ferment agave sap into pulque. Pulque became so important that it became quasi religious. In fact, two gods were created because of it, Mayahuel and Patecatl.  Mayahuel is the goddess of the maguey (one specie of agave) and Patecatl is the god of pulque. The Aztecs had many gods, but few for agricultural products – like maize and pulque – telling just how important agave and pulque were to this ancient civilization. Unsurprisingly, pulque came to hold prominence in religious ceremonies and rituals, with only priests being allowed to drink it.

1400s and 1500s AD:

When the invading Spaniards ran out of their precious brandy, they turned to the local fermented spirit, pulque. The European continent had been practicing distillation for centuries, and the arriving Spaniards turned to pulque in their search for a native alcoholic drink. As a result of distillation using semi-primitive mud stills, agave wine became the first indigenous distilled spirit.

 Agave wine evolved into Tequila, named after the town in the state of Jalisco.  Tequila was the site of the first large-scale distillery, built in the early 1600s by the Marquis of Altamira.  Many archaeologists have identified prehispanic stills in Amatitán, a town outside of Tequila, suggesting Amatitán is the true historic birthplace of Tequila.

Check back in soon to learn more about the history of Tequila, as it grew from its humble beginning in Amatitán to become the savored spirit known worldwide.

History of the Martini

Tequila Martini made with organic 100% de agave cocktail

Like that of many cocktails, there are a number of origin stories for the martini.  While it may impossible to confirm the veracity of the following stories, they are entertaining nonetheless, and we can’t thank whoever invented the cocktail enough. Without the martini, we wouldn’t have the Tequila Martini!

One story traces the martini’s origins to Martini di Arma di Taggia, a bartender at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City prior to World War I.  His cocktail blended London dry gin, Noilly Prat Vermouth and orange bitters – similar to the modern-day Martini.  Another story places the origin in 1863, with Martini & Rossi, an Italian sweet vermouth, that customers would have ordered alongside gin.  A “gin and martini” may have evolved into the martini, a likely theory given the simplicity of cocktail names during the 19th century. 

The city of Martinez, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, claims the predecessor of the Martini was created by a local bartender named Julio Richelieu when a miner, who’d recently struck it rich during the California Gold Rush, asked for a glass of champagne.  Without any in town, Julio Richelieu whipped up a “Martinez Special”, a drink the miner recalled the next day having exceeded his expectations.  When he tried to order it in San Francisco, the bartender – obviously never having prepared a “Martinez Special” before – created one with one-part dry wine and three parts gin.   Yet another claims the drink was named after the strong recoil of the Martini & Henry rifle, in use by the British Army between 1870 and 1890.  Wherever and whenever the martini was truly first created, it took years before the ratio of dry vermouth to gin reached a more modern level.  A traditional martini is made with gin and dry vermouth at a 1:1 ratio and served cold with a green olive or lemon garnish.  The level of gin has increased with regularity over the years, with personal taste and subjectivity requesting ratios of 3 or 5:1, gin to vermouth.

While there isn’t a clear story on how Tequila came to replace gin as the standout spirit of the traditional martini, there’s no doubt that it is a variation on the classic cocktail worth a taste.   The Tequila Martini substitutes gin with Blanco Tequila, keeps the dry vermouth, and adds a lime garnish.  You’ll find the natural citrus and herbal flavors of our never-aged organic Blanco Tequila are well-balanced by the dry vermouth.  For a hot summer day, this cool cocktail will keep you feeling refreshed (and ready for a fiesta).  

Tequila Martini

Tequila Martini

Recipe:

Instructions:

  • Pour organic Blanco Tequila and dry vermouth into a mixing glass filled with ice.
  • Stir and strain into a chilled coupe glass.
  • Garnish with a lime twist and enjoy!

Tres Agaves Reposado Honored as a Top 100 Spirit of 2018

Tres Agave - Top 100 Spirit of 2018

Tres Agaves 100% de Agave Reposado Tequila was named one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Spirits of 2018.  Wine Enthusiast’s yearly list of Top 100 Spirits is formulated after reviewing all spirits included in its Spirit Buying Guide.  No shortage of competition there!   Not only did we land in the Top 100 Spirits, but with a rating of 93, Tres Agaves Reposado holds its place among the Top 5 Tequilas of 2018!   Are you also salivating for Tequila that “leads with honey and jalapeño, finishing with hints of vanilla and sweet cinnamon”?  If so, you’re in good company!

As Tres Agaves continues to grow nationally, we are committed to the excellent taste our consumers have come to expect from our Tequilas.  The best part about our Tequilas is they are as great to enjoy neat as they are in a cocktail.  Interested in simply enjoying the complex flavors found in our Tequila?  Find out where you can purchase a bottle of our 100% de Agave Blanco, Reposado, or Añejo Tequila near you!  If you’re interested in a fine cocktail featuring our award-winning Tres Agaves 100% de Agave Reposado Tequila, might we suggest a Strawberry Margarita, complete with our Organic Strawberry Margarita Mix?  You really can’t go wrong.

¡Salud Amigos!