Like mezcal , tequila is also made from the agave plant and originates from the same regions of Mexico. The distinction is that tequila is made only from blue agave and they are prepared in different ways. Tequila is commonly served neat in Mexico and as a shot with salt and lime around the world.
The red volcanic soils in the region of Tequila is well suited to growing the blue agave, and more than million of the plants are harvested there each year. Blue agaves grown in the highlands Los Altos region are larger and sweeter in aroma and taste. Agaves harvested in the lowlands have a more herbaceous fragrance and flavor. Tequila can be between and percent alcohol content 70 and U. Tequila was first produced in the 16th century near the location of the city of Tequila, which was not officially established until A fermented beverage from the agave plant known as pulque was consumed in pre-Columbian central Mexico before European contact.
When the Spanish conquistadors ran out of their own brandy , they began to distill agave to produce one of North America 's first indigenous distilled spirits. By , the colonial governor of Nueva Galicia had begun to tax his products. Don Cenobio Sauza , founder of Sauza Tequila and Municipal President of the Village of Tequila from —, was the first to export tequila to the United States,  and shortened the name from "Tequila Extract" to just "Tequila" for the American markets.
Although some tequilas have remained as family-owned brands, most well-known tequila brands are owned by large multinational corporations. However, over distilleries make over brands of tequila in Mexico and over 2, brand names have been registered statistics.
Due to this, each bottle of tequila contains a serial number NOM depicting in which distillery the tequila was produced. Because only so many distilleries are used, multiple brands of tequila come from the same location.
In , Mexico issued a proposal that would require all Mexican-made tequila be bottled in Mexico before being exported to other countries. The bottle which contained the tequila was a two-kilo display of platinum and gold. The manufacturer received a certificate from The Guinness World Records for the most expensive bottle of tequila spirit ever sold.
The latest version of the tequila standard NOMSCFI also updated the standard to specify that the silver class of tequila cannot contain additives, to allow the aging time for the ultra aged class to be displayed on the label, to prohibit the commercialization of bulk tequila through vending machines, and required registering the agave during the calendar year of its plantation and required annual updates. Planting, tending, and harvesting the agave plant remains a manual effort, largely unchanged by modern farm machinery and relying on centuries-old know-how.
Some producers like to add a small amount of bagazo back into their fermentation tanks for a stronger agave flavor in the final product.
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Using at least two distillations is required by law. The differences in taste between tequila made from lowland and highland agave plants can be noticeable.
Plants grown in the highlands often yield sweeter and fruitier-tasting tequila, while lowland agaves give the tequila an earthier flavor.
Unlike other tequila production steps, fermentation is one of the few steps out of the control of human beings. Fermentation is the conversion of sugars and carbohydrates to alcohol through yeast in anerobic conditions, meaning that oxygen is not present during the process. During the fermentation process, inoculum is added to the batch to speed the rate of fermentation. When inoculum is added, fermentation can take approximately 20 hours to 3 days. If inoculum is not added, fermentation could take up to 7 days.
The rate of fermentation is a key factor in the quality and flavor of tequila produced. Worts fermented slowly are best because the amount of organoleptic compounds produced is greater.
Organoleptic compounds enhance flavor and aroma. These include fusel oil , methanol , aldehydes , organic acids and esters. In contrast, ethanol production begins in the first hours of the fermentation and ends with logarithmic yeast growth. The alcohol content in tequila is affected by three factors: the amount of isoamyl alcohol and isobutanol in the yeast strain, the carbon:nitrogen ratio the higher the ratio, the more alcohol produced , and the temperature of fermentation.
The higher the temperature, the greater concentration of isobutyl and isoamyl alcohols produced.
Although if temperatures are too high, this can cause the yeast to become less effective. Similarly, if the temperature is too low, the process occurs too slowly. The average annual temperatures in the city of Tequila can reach 31C. For this reason, tequila producers often use large stainless steel tanks for fermentation.
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Organoleptic compounds are dependent on yeast. The role of yeast is, through many enzymatic processes, to turn sugars and carbohydrates into alcohol. There are two steps, first in aerobic conditions, yeast is doubled in colony size every four hours. This process goes on for 24—48 hours.
Next, yeast turns acetaldehyde into ethyl alcohol which is known as one of the organoleptic compounds produced in fermentation. The two main categories of yeast used in tequila are commercial brewers yeast and yeast that comes from precultivated existing yeast that has been preserved. The use of either type of yeast can result in different end products of tequila.
Tequila is a distilled beverage that is made from the fermentation of the sugars found from the blue agave plant once it has been cooked, the main sugar being fructose. However, the type of yeast strain used and the carbon:nitrogen factors have the biggest influence on the production of higher alcohols; this is not surprisingly as higher alcohol and ethanol production is an intrinsic property of the metabolism of each strain.
It was found that the higher the carbon:nitrogen ratio, the higher the production of higher alcohols such as isobutyl alcohol and isoamyl alcohol.
A high ratio imparts that there is less nitrogen in the fermentation process, which results in deamination reactions of amino acids , leading to the synthesis of higher alcohols.
The temperature of the fermentation process also greatly effects the alcohol content of the resulting product.
For example, a study conducted by Pinal et al. The higher temperature suggests that this is a much more optimal condition for the yeast to ferment the distilled beverage. Lastly the age of the agave plant itself: the older the plant, the greater the alcohol production. However, a higher concentration of methanol is found when using younger plants. This may be due to differences in agricultural practices that occur when taking care of plants of different ages.
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Tequila comes in an abundant array of colors that ranges from a simple clear distilled beverage to a dark amber brown. The color of the tequila varies greatly depending on the aging process and the type of wood used for storage. What is known as gold, joven or oro tequila is usually silver tequila with the addition of grain alcohols and caramel color;  however, some higher-end gold tequilas may be a blend of silver and reposado.
The aging process generally imparts a golden color. There are more than known compounds in tequila, many of which are produced during the fermentation process, the raw material used, and to a lesser degree during the maturation. Higher-order alcohols have a strong aroma, and the quantity present in each tequila depends on the carbon:nitrogen ratio and temperature during the cooking and fermentation processes.
In general, the longer the controlled fermentation period, the higher yield of esters produced. It also contains eugenol which can deliver a hint of spicy flavor to the tequila. Beta-demascenone contributes to the woody, floral taste of tequila. Volatile compounds that contribute to the overall taste and aroma of tequila can be quantitatively assessed and evaluated by gas chromatography.
If silver or white tequila is the desired final product, distillation is the final process it undergoes. There are, however, more than 50 different companies producing tequila in the Mexican province of Jalisco , with different maturation times according to the variety of tequila and desired quality of the final product.
All companies producing tequila have their aging processes regulated and fiscalized by the Mexican government. The maturation process causes four main chemical transformations to the tequila compounds: 1 decreasing of fusel oils by the char in barrels, which acts as an absorbing agent; 2 extraction of complex wood constituents by tequila, giving specific aroma and flavor to the final product; 3 reactions among the components of tequila, creating new chemical compounds; and 4 oxidation of the original contents of tequila and of those extracted from wood.
The final results of these changes are increased concentrations of acids, esters and aldehydes, and a decrease in fusel oil concentration.
Reposado may be rested in oak barrels or casks as large as 20, liters 5, gallons , allowing for richer and more complex flavors. The preferred oak comes from the US, France, or Canada, and is usually white oak. Some companies char the wood to impart a smoky flavor or use barrels previously used with different kinds of alcohol e.
Some reposados can also be aged in new wood barrels to achieve the same woody flavor and smoothness, but in less time. The barrels cannot be more than liters gallons , and most are in the liter gallon range. Many of the barrels used are from whiskey distilleries in the US or Canada, and Jack Daniels barrels are especially popular. TMA tristeza y muerte de agave — "agave depression and death" is a blight that has reduced the production of the agave grown to produce tequila.
This has resulted in lower production and higher prices throughout the early 21st century, and due to the long maturation of the plant, will likely continue to affect prices for years to come. Only certain mezcals , usually from the state of Oaxaca , are ever sold con gusano with worm.
Ecogenios: Bioplástico de agave - Capítulo 04 - #SoyMéxico
They are added as a marketing gimmick  and are not traditional. The tequila regulatory council does not allow gusanos or scorpions which are sometimes also added to mezcals to be included in tequila bottles.
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Finding one in the plant during processing indicates an infestation and, correspondingly, a lower-quality product. However, this misconception continues, despite effort and marketing to represent tequila as a premium liquor. The Norma Oficial Mexicana NOM applies to all processes and activities related to the supply of agave, production, bottling, marketing, information, and business practices linked to the distilled alcoholic beverage known as tequila.
Tequila must be produced using agave of the species Tequilana Weber Blue variety , grown in the federal states and municipalities indicated in the Declaration.
Furthermore, the NOM establishes the technical specifications and legal requirements for the protection of the Appellation of Origin of "Tequila" in accordance with the current General Declaration of Protection of the Appellation of Origin of "Tequila", the Law, the Industrial Property Law, the Federal Consumer Protection Law and other related legal provisions.
All authentic, regulated tequilas will have a NOM identifier on the bottle. The number after NOM is the distillery number, assigned by the government. NOM does not indicate the location of the distillery, merely the parent company or, in the case where a company leases space in a plant, the physical plant where the tequila was manufactured.
Unlike wine that contains tannins which may change over time, even in a bottle if proper storage conditions are not met, spirituous liquors like tequila do not change much once they are bottled.
Also, storage conditions will have more effect on the taste of aged tequila rather than the un-aged tequila, due to tannins and other compounds introduced into the spirit from the aging barrel. Once the bottle is opened, the tequila will be subject to oxidation which will continue to happen even if no more oxygen is introduced.
In addition, if the bottle has more room for air, the process of oxidation occurs faster on the liquor remaining inside the bottle. Mixtos use both glucose and fructose sugars. There are also four categories for tequila, depending on the aging period: . As with other spirits aged in casks, tequila takes on the flavors of the wood, while the harshness of the alcohol mellows.