Let’s just put it out there – Tequila, okay we said it. This spirit more than any other congers up interesting memories for many. The team at Cool Springs Wines & Spirits has been spending a good deal of time and effort trying to dispel some of the negative associations with Tequila. In doing so, we have also spent some quality time with our customers conducting tastings to demonstrate there is so much to this spirit.
On May 2, CSWS presented an in-store tasting of Tequila. We poured Silver, Resposado and Añejo Tequila along with a beautiful orange licquer called Combier. Our customers sampled their way through the different classes of Tequila and most importantly, tasted their way through 100% Agave Tequilas.
It was interesting to note that across a spectrum of demographics represented by all those who crowded up to the CSWS tasting bar, few knew about the different classes of Tequila or the legal definition of this spirit. Firstly, the term Tequila is internationally protected and registered through the WIPO (World Industrial Property Organization) that recognizes Tequila as a protected product with specific standards and origins or appellations of production areas. In 1978, the Appellation of Origin for Tequila Territories was registered that included five specific zones where Tequila could be produced in Mexico. These are Jalisco, Nayarit, Guanajuato, Michoacan and Tamaulipas. Between them there are one hundred eighty municipalities that are allowed to produce Tequila. These municipalities are governed by the Official Mexican Standard for Tequila NOM 006-SCFI-2005 also known as NOM. This is long and lengthy. Basically, NOM spells out where Tequila can be made and under what specific standards. The native plant that can be used to derive sugars and starches for fermentation is Weber Blue variety of the Agavaceas family and can only use the heart or head.
NOM further specifies that Tequila must be produced with Weber Blue Agave plant matter constituting 51% or more in mass direct from these sugars. Wow! I didn’t know this in college. NOM does allow the use of sweeteners, coloring and aromatics so you can understand how different Tequila products can be.
NOM also stipulates different grades or classes of Tequila such as Silver, Gold (Joven or Oro) Resposado, Añejo and Extra Añejo. Silver or Blanco is straightforward, alcohol content derived from the standardized legal definitions of NOM and diluted with water to adjust the final alcohol level. Gold is enhanced by mellowing and the blending of Silver and aged and extra aged Tequilas. Resposado (Aged Tequila) is spirit that requires a minimum of two months of direct contact with oak or Encino oak containers. Añejo (Extra Aged Tequila) spirit requires a minimum of one year in direct contact with oak or Encino oak containers with a maximum size of 600 liters. Extra Añejo (Ultra Aged Tequila) requires the spirit to have a minimum of three years of direct contact with oak or Encino oak containers with a maximum capacity of 600 liters. Whew! Didn’t know Tequila was this fancy. Well, yes it is and when you taste the different grades you quickly realize that not all Tequilas are created equal and this is a good thing.
In a nutshell, this is what has happened in the world of Tequila, the Mexican government stepped in and created very specific laws and standards to govern and regulate a very important commercial export product. Yes, Tequila is an integral part of Mexican culture, but it is internationally recognized as a protected commercial product of Mexico. What this has done is allow for specialized products for international markets such as the United States. We are now seeing and enjoying a real boom in Tequila and this has been an eye opening experience. Tequila is now on par with high quality Rums, Vodkas, and Whiskies. You can mix high end Tequilas in your favorite Margaritas or savor its unique flavors neat or on the rocks.
Cool Springs Wines & Spirits has worked very closely with our wholesale distributors to stock a wide selection of Tequilas at incredible prices. The best part is this, US consumers win with a staggering offering of great Tequilas for any occasion and its not just for college parties anymore.