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Updated on July 31, 2023
5 min read

Tequila Facts

Tequila is one of the most popular spirits with a rich cultural history and unique production process. From its ancient roots to modern-day creations, tequila has been essential to celebrations worldwide. Whether you’re an experienced agave enthusiast or simply curious to learn more, here are some fun tequila facts you may not have known.

1. Blue Agave Plants are the Only Source of Authentic Tequila

To earn the proper title of tequila, the spirit must be made from blue agave. It must contain at least 51% blue agave and 49% neutral spirit.

Many contemporary brands opt for the premium option of using 100% blue agave. For consumers seeking to stretch their budget, "mixto" tequilas contain a lower percentage of blue agave and are typically less expensive.

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2. Harvesting a Blue Agave Plant Takes Time

The species used explicitly for tequila, agave tequilana weber, can take 8 to 12 years to reach maturity. It can also grow up to 7 feet tall before being ready for agave harvest.

3. Only Five Mexican Regions Can Produce Tequila

The tequila industry is primarily based in the Mexican state of Jalisco. However, tequila is made and produced in four other Mexican states:

  • Tamaulipas
  • Nayarit
  • Guanajuato
  • Michoacan
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4. Tequila is Exclusively Made From the Heart of the Agave Plant

Only the agave heart undergoes cutting, cooking, grinding, and fermentation to produce the popular distilled drink.

Unlike fruits used in winemaking, the blue agave plant can't be harvested more than once. That means each plant is used up after just one yield, prompting farmers to grow new crops from scratch for the next tequila production.

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5. The Agave Plant is Commonly Mistaken for a Cactus

Though the two plants share some similarities, agave is a succulent, meaning its leaves are thick and fleshy to store water. Cacti, on the other hand, have thick spines that help them withstand long periods of drought.

The agave plant also belongs to the Agavoideae family. "Agave" translates to "illustrious, admirable, and noble" in Latin.

6. Tequila is Packed With Health Benefits

This beloved spirit contains agavins, an indigestible sugar. It can:

  • Boost metabolism
  • Prevent blood sugar spikes
  • Aid digestion

Studies have shown that tequila may have heart-healthy benefits by lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol.1 However, like all things, it must be taken in moderation.

For tequila drinkers who are gluten intolerant, tequila provides a gluten-free option. Therefore, they can drink tequila without worrying about inflammation or an adverse reaction.

7. Tequila Has Five Different Varieties

The tequila world is divided into five distinct categories, which include:

  • Blanco (Silver) tequilas: The youngest and freshest variety; they're usually unaged but sometimes rested for a few weeks to reduce their potency. These rested tequilas are often marketed as "Suave."
  • Joven (Gold) tequilas: Manufacturers typically blend this tequila with colorants and sweeteners to obtain the "gold" shade, and they’re frequently used in cocktails. Like Blanco tequilas, they’re among the freshest variety and can be rested for a few weeks.
  • Reposado tequilas: This tequila is among the older styles and has a shorter aging process. Reposados mature for a period of two months to one year in barrels.
  • Añejo tequilas: These are aged for one to three years in barrels, which gives them a richer and smoother flavor.
  • Extra Añejo tequilas: The oldest and rarest of all tequilas. They must be aged for at least three years to acquire a smoother, more intense flavor.

8.  Soil Content is an Important Factor

The type of soil in which the blue agave plant is grown has a significant influence on the overall flavor of the tequila. Terroir, or the soil's specific characteristics, can affect how tequila matures and develop its flavor profile. Some characteristics include mineral content and pH levels.

Generally, tequilas derived from the Highlands (Los Altos) tend to exude grassy notes and, at times, a sweet taste. Those from the Lowland (El Valle) exhibit a more mineral-like quality with earthy undertones.

9. Jose Cuervo Was the Pioneering Producer of Tequila Globally

Before Mexico gained independence, Jose Antonio de Cuervo y Valdes acquired land from the King of Spain in 1758 and started distilling tequila.2

In 1795, he introduced the world to the first Vino Mezcal de Tequila de Jose Cuervo. He did so after obtaining the first official charter from the King of Spain to manufacture tequila officially.

10. Lou Barton Owns The Largest Tequila Bottle Collection in the U.S.

Collector Lou Barton owns the most extensive collection of tequila bottles in the U.S., with over 2,000 distinctive containers worldwide.3

11. The Most Expensive Alcohol is Tequila

The Guinness World Records recognized Tequila Ley 925’s Platinum & White Gold Tequila bottle as the world’s most expensive tequila in the world.4

This iconic bottle, created in 2006, fetched a staggering $225,000 from a private collector. The secret behind the steep price tag is the six-year-aged extra añejo. Moreover, the bottle was adorned with five pounds of pure platinum and 4,100 white diamonds.

12. Orange Juice + Tequila Make the Perfect Pairing

Tequila has many flavor profiles, and orange juice enhances its flavors, making it an ideal spirit for mixing. Combining one part of orange juice and another of tequila creates a unique flavor.

This mix is known as the “Screwdriver” and is often a summer favorite. You can kick it up for a refreshing twist by adding grenadine to make a Tequila Sunrise.

13. The Tequila Industry is Poised for Growth

According to a recent report, the tequila market is expected to grow sustainably over the next decade.6

The industry's global impact from the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some setbacks due to low demand levels in all regions. However, the report predicts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.89% over the forecast period, with the market growing from $10.43 billion in 2022 to $15.57 billion by 2029.

So, the tequila industry remains positioned for long-term success, although 2020 saw a slower growth of 4.54% compared to 2019.

Updated on July 31, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on July 31, 2023
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