It’s no secret: America loves tequila. Here at AVEC, we are BIG fans of tequila. But sometimes even fans are not complete experts… In honor of National Tequila Day, we figured it was time to head back to the basics with Tequila 101 featuring Kristopher Desoto from Hiatus Tequila. Kristopher so graciously spoke to us about tequila, its origins, and varieties of tequila that you may find on store shelves.
Thanks for speaking with us, Kristopher! First, can you just explain who you are and what Hiatus Tequila is?
I am the Founder and CEO of Hiatus Tequila, an independent, small batch brand that focuses on traditional, additive-free, 100% Agave Tequila. Doing things the slow and old way to make a superb, award-winning tequila.
What is tequila made from?
Blue Weber Agave (also known as Agave Azul).
Is it true that tequila can only come from a certain part of the world?
Tequila can only be produced in a specific region of Mexico. The agave must also be grown in that region, too. Furthermore, if the tequila is 100% Blue Weber Agave, then it must be bottled in that same region, normally in the distillery where it is produced. The town of Tequila is an actual place and is where Hiatus Tequila is crafted and bottled. The entire Mexican State of Jalisco and parts of the States of Nayarit ,Guanajuato, Michoacán, and Tamaulipas can grow the agave and produce tequila.
What are the styles of tequila?
Most importantly there are two “types” of tequila:
- Tequila. It can be made from as little as 51% agave and the other 49% is usually from sugar cane (like mixing rum and tequila in one bottle)
- 100% Agave Tequila (go this way every time)
The different official expressions are as follows:
Blanco, Joven*, Reposado, Añejo, Extra Añejo. (*Joven is usually not 100% Agave). A blanco is not aged, whereas our reposados and añejos age in recycled American whiskey barrels. The reposados age for 2 months to a year. The añejos age for at least 12 months, if not longer. The barrels are what gives these expressions their more caramel color.
Recently, there is what is called Cristalino but it is not official recognized as an expression yet. It is aged tequila that has been filtered to remove the color and oak flavor the barrel imparts.
Okay, mezcal… How is mezcal different from tequila?
A few main differences. First, mezcal has its own designated region for growing agave and production. Second, mezcal can use multiple types of agave species so long as the species are from that region. Mezcal producers use fire to roast their agave which imparts the smokey flavor. Tequila typically uses steam to roast the agave.
Should tequila be served chilled or kept in the freezer?
We always suggest room temperature in order to really taste the complexities of the brand. Chilled or kept in a freezer can really dampen or soften the flavor.
Why do celebrities seemingly love to get into the tequila business?
Tequila is booming and they love to follow the trends. With their marketing, resources, and access they can quickly get traction. Most of them don’t come up with the idea but rather someone presents them the idea and they run with it. Sadly, most don’t understand the culture of tequila or even much about the country where it originated from.
Everyone is pretty familiar with margaritas and Palomas, but is there an underrated tequila cocktail that you think deserves more attention?
When you have a great tequila you always want to make it the star of the show. Keep it simple and clean is our suggestion. A tequila soda with a splash of your favorite AVEC mixer will not only go down nicely but by drinking clean like that you are limiting your calories and sugar, which is usually the biggest contributor to hangovers.