Many people mistakenly believe that tequila is a drink made from cactus; however,
it is made from the blue agave, which is part of the lily and amaryllis family of
flowering plants. This bluish-green succulent takes eight to 12 years to mature.
To many of us tequila may be synonymous with shots, but the best way to truly enjoy
it is to sip it neat. It is worthy of the attention you might pay a fine cognac or
Scotch. In Mexico, tequila is generally served complete with a side of sangrita:
a mixture of orange juice, grenadine and a hint of chili pepper. Alternate sips between
the two glasses and savour the flavour.
What to look for while tasting
Pour tequila into clear, tulip-shaped wineglasses or chimney glasses. The narrow
opening of these glasses will concentrate the bouquet of the spirit. It is important
that the glass be clear so that you may observe the spirit’s colour.
Appearance: Look at the colouring of the spirit: Is it clear or pale yellow, golden
or golden brown? A change of colour signifies either more extensive ageing or the
use of caramel colouring.
Nose: Waft the glass beneath your nose. Are you getting hints of true agave or is
the delicate, almost floral scent lost in an intense alcohol burn? “Agave intensity”
is the term used to describe the amount of agave aroma in the tequila. Also look
for scents of soil, oak barrels, fruit, and smoke.
Taste: When tasting, see if the product delivers the same experience on the tongue
as it did on the nose. An intense and focused aroma should indicate a taste that
is intense, with a long finish and a nicely complex aftertaste. If the taste is short,
numb, medicinal or bitter, the tequila will not be among the best available.
Take a sip and let it sit in your mouth. Is it sweet, pleasantly sweet or barely
sweet? Is it oily, watery or pleasant on the tongue? Swallow the tequila and notice
the flavours you sense as it goes down.
Sip barrel-aged tequila as you would a fine whisky and enjoy the mingling flavours
of the agave and the oak.