For many of us, tequila is more associated with slamming back shots and decisions we regret the next morning than with enjoying the flavor of a fine barrel-aged spirit. But Cinco de Mayo is a great opportunity to learn more about this surprisingly complex spirit. Bourbon lovers may find that there is more that they can appreciate about tequila than you might expect.
First the basics. Tequila is made from the blue agave plant. If you think waiting for bourbon to age is a long process you should know that the blue agave plant takes 8-10 years to mature to the point where it can even be harvested. Some people like to say that tequila is aged in the plant, not in the barrel. The leaves are then stripped away, and the core is roasted and milled to begin the fermentation process. Most tequilas are distilled twice, and the best ones don’t do more than that because the product loses too much flavor.