Silver & Gold Tequila

May 5, 2011

I’m no tequila expert, but I have learned a few things about the spirit over the years. Tequila is made from fermenting the blue agave plant grown in Mexico, which is also now being used to make a sugar type syrup. This process was being done by natives, much like making pulque, but when the Spanish explorers/colonists arrived with their brandy making knowledge, they took it a step further and distilled it, which is how tequila is now made.

On my honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, we toured a tequila outlet. They had some basic models of everything set up for production, and we got to taste several tequilas. What I took away from there in knowledge was the difference between silver and gold tequila. A silver tequila is an unaged tequila. A gold tequila has been aged in oak barrels, which is where it gets its gold color. The longer it ages, the smoother tasting it gets, and the more expensive it becomes. However, apparently seven years is a magic number for aging tequila, for if it stays in the oak barrel for eight years, the tequila goes bad.

José Cuervo Tequila is the biggest tequila manufacturer today, and is also probably the most distributed and well known. However, because of their size, distribution, and therefore demand for their product, they have to take a few short cuts to keep up production, and so the quality is not as good.

A good tequila can be sipped. My grandfather, who used to be a snowbird into rural parts of Mexico where nobody spoke English, taught me that good tequilas are fermented to a certain natural level, distilled to proof and bottled. Lesser tequilas are fermented to the highest possible alcohol, distilled to the highest amount of alcohol, and then watered down to proof and bottled. I don’t know if that is true or not. However, probably the most important thing he impressed upon me about tequila was that an expensive tequila should be sipped, but it should not be used to make a margarita. Since you are adding flavors and sugars, it will hide the quality, so using a lesser tequila such as José Cuervo to make a margarita is acceptable if it saves you money as you may not be able to taste the difference.


One Response to “Silver & Gold Tequila”

  1. […] for Cinco de Mayo, I talked about tequila. A year ago, I mentioned making a guava margarita with jalapeno infused tequila. The other day, I […]

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