Hello world! (A tequila primer)

Welcome to the inaugural Bodacious Booze Blog post. You can learn more about this site and the author on the about page. But there’s so much booze out there and not enough time to waste talking about the author.

There’s a lot of confusion out there with tequila. Gold, Plata, Blanco, Añejo, Reposado – keeping the types straight on their own can be difficult.

For the casual customer, finding the best value means looking for “100% Blue Agave,” or “Agave de Azul” on the label. If it doesn’t say that, then it’s probably a mixto – a product that mixes agave nectar with sugar during the pre-fermentation stage. All forms of alcohol were once fermented. During fermentation, yeasts consume sugar and produce CO2 and ethyl-alcohol, among other byproducts. By adding sugar to the natural agave nectar, producers can quicken the process. But, that will also cheapen the product. Mixto is not as authentic. Many writers claim it tastes like fire and will leave you with a headache and a brutal hangover.

It’s hard to judge a tequila’s value. In terms of bang-for-buck, I recommend Camarena® — especially for beginners. It is an excellently-priced 100% blue agave product. I’ve had it, I like it and I keep my bar stocked with it. From what I can tell, it is a family-owned brand.

There’s a Premiumization (an industry term) trend going on where brands will charge more for similar products.  Customers will pay more for them, usually hoping to find better quality. But be careful – the price tag can be just as much a product of marketing copy and a fancy packaging as what goes into the bottle.

Let’s look at Patron. They should get credit for bringing 100% blue agave to the mainstream. But they’re expensive mostly because they use an antiquated hand-pressed granite-wheel system to extract the agave’s aguamiel. They use old-school pots to cook the pinas (the agave hearts), copper pots to distil the aguimiel. Does it make it more authentic? Definitely. It’s hand-crafted, so that’s cool. And Copper Pots do make a big difference when making Scotch, Bourbon, Rum.

But when it comes to value? Who knows… You just have to try them to find out.

Clear tequila isn’t aged. It’ll most likely be called Blanco or Silver. Aging is perhaps the single-most determining factor in whiskey and scotch pricing and also goes into the price of Reposado and Añejo tequila. But with clear tequila it’s not a factor, which makes determining value even more difficult.

Article by akendeall

Aaron is a whiskey writer, brand ambassador and distiller based in Pittsburgh, Pa., who has been working in the spirits industry since 2013.

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