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Tequila: The Basics


Tequila, the primary spirit of Mexico, has its own special flavor that is almost tart and leaves the tongue clean and tingling. In the 1970s, tequila became the fastest growing spirit in sales, as vodka did in the 1960s.  Tequila is obtained from the distillation of the fermented juice (sap) of the mescal plant, called pulque.

The only source for Tequila is the mescal plant, which is a species of the agave plant.

The mescal plant is a cactus that takes between twelve and thirteen years to mature. Its long leaves, or spikes, are cut off at harvest time, leaving only the bulbous central core, called the pina, meaning pineapple. The pinas, which weigh from 80 pounds to 175 pounds each, are taken to the distillery where they are cooked in pressure cookers for several hours. They are then cooled and shredded, and the juice is pressed out. The fermentation process is completed in huge wooden vats.  The fermented juice is then twice distilled in traditional copper-pot stills.