b'S P I R I T ST E Q U I L A & M E Z C A LH aving polished off the brandy that they had brought with them the 16th century Conquistadors found themselves in need of something to distil. The Aztecsincluding the Tarahumara and Apache Indians (Chihuahua), the Ticuila Indians (Tequila) and Zapotec and Nahutal Indians had been producing a beer they called octlimore latterly known as pulque made from species of the agavaceae family as early as 800 years ago. Accordingly the newcomers distilled what they found and the result was effectively the first Sotols, Tequilas and Mezcals.TheindustryandinparticulartheTequilaTEQUILA Those that crush will put both liquid and fibres industry - subsequently grew very quickly and byFrom the state of Jalisco primarily from the regioninto the vat and may in tequila production also 1656 the village of Tequila had been granted asurrounding the city of Tequila is made from theput these into the first distillation. Fermentation charter by the Governor of New Galicia. In 1795Agave tequilana more commonly known as Webertodayisvirtuallyalwaysintemperature-Jose Cuervo was granted a licence and 78 yearsAzur or Blue controlled stainless steel with most modern firms later in 1783 his distillery made the first export:preferring to use their own yeast strain. Typically 3 barrels to El Paso, Texas. In 1824 the state ofMEZCALfermentation will last 72 hours at most, however JaliscowascreatedbywhichtimedozensofMezcalthestatedrinkofOaxaca;mostofitsin the event that wild yeasts alone are used that distilleries had been established. distilleries are still run by Zapotec Indians. It istimeframe would be about 5 days as is the case made from various different species including awith Tres Majures so-called yeast-free method.In the 1930s in order to cope with demand the TEQUILA practice of adding non-agave sugars to agavaceaemaguey variety and Agave augustifolia Haw moreThe mosto muerto, which is between 5%abv and commonly known as espadin. The name Mezcal spiritsbecamepopular.KnownasmixtostheisderivedfromtheNahutalIndianmeaning10%abv, is sent for distillation with most Tequilas resultantdistillateswererelativelyblandwhenroasted agave. andMezcalscomingoffthestillatbetween compared with 100% agavaceae spirits but in one55%abv and 65%abv respectively. Most Tequila respect this helped them become more popularThe plants are well suited to their respective soilsproducersuseDoubleDistillationinStainless abroad. In Chihuahua, Sotols are made only formand climates. The Blue Agave thrives in the high,Steel pots although copper is playing more and 100% agavaceae; there are no mixtos at all. dry, mineral rich volcanic plain of the Sierra Madremore of a role in the region nowadays. Mezcal whilst the Sotol plant grows wildand thereforewastraditionallysingledistilledbutisnow In 1992 the Consejo Regulador del Tequila wasorganically - very successfully on the rocky slopesnormally distilled twice in copper pot still whilst established and in 1997 Oaxaca was awarded DOin the Chihuahuan desert grassland at altitude.the Sotol producer Hacienda de Chihuahua use Status for Mezcal although the spirit is indigenousThe latter is the smallest of all the spirit givinga Pot Column giving a spirit off the still at about to various regions including Acapulco. DO Statusagavaceae growing to about 21/2 in height with75%abv.is currently being sought by Sotol producers whothe pia weighing approximately 10kg. The others have put in place an active and very extensiveare farmed and are similar to one another insofarOnly oak barrels may be used for ageing tequila conservation program to ensure the availability ofastheyareabout5inheightandcan weighand the spirit therein must be between 38%abv the Desert Spoon in its natural habitat. anything from 20kg60kg. and 55%abv. Typically ex Bourbon barrels will be used although this is not always the case. The The word agave is Greek in origin and literallyFor Sotols and Tequilas the starches are convertedfollowingdesignationsapplyforallagavaceae meansmagnificent.Todaymanyspeciesofto sugars by cooking the pias in steam ovensspirits:the agavaceae family are used to make qualitytraditionally at 950C for 36 hours although more quintessentiallyMexicanspiritsthusprovingmodern methods include pressure-cooking which truetheancientAztecphilosophythatwhengets the job done in half the time. Whereas forSILVER, BLANCA or PLATAyouspecialiseandremainfocusedonyourMezcalsthepiasareslowroasted,ofteninReleased after a brief marrying period in stainless origins a cult status is bound to follow. In legallypit ovens, for about 3 days. As they roast theysteeltypically about 30 daysdemarcatedareas(fromNorthtoSouth)theabsorb smoke, which gives Mezcal one of its most followingspiritsareproducedfromdifferentdistinctive characteristics and has the additionalGOLD or JOVEN ABOCADOspecies of the agavaceae family: benefit of activating the wild yeasts allowing theHas caramel addedcooked hearts to start fermenting naturally. These SOTOL pias are then crushed and mashed and left to ThestatedrinkofChihuahuaismadefromcomplete fermentation. This can take some timeREPOSADODasylirion wheeleri more commonly known as thebut as it does the liquid starts to naturally separate212 months ageing in oakDesert Spoon or in Spanish the Sotol plant. from the mulch.ANEJOWith Sotols and Tequilas the cooked pias are12 months plus ageing in oakeithershreddedorcrushedandtheaguamiel (sweet juice) drained into the fermentation vat. The essential guide A word about the worm!It is a marketing gimmick, which made its first appearance in the mid 20th century. It is not actually a worm at all but the larval form of the moth Hypopta agavis that lives on agavaceae plants. Tequilas never have aworm in them and only certain Mezcalsprimarily from Oaxaca are sold con gusano. If sales ofthese mezcals continue to grow these moths will eventually become extinct. INN EXPRESS - DRINKS PORTFOLIO 2019|20 - TEQUILA & MEZCAL 133'