Tequila is the most famous type of mezcal produced in Mexico, and the only mezcal which is produced industrially with strict standards. It is named after a small town northwest of the city of Guadalajara in the center of the state of Jalisco, in western Mexico; this is the native region of the blue agave. The tequila industry supports large scale cultivation of the blue agave, with about 200,000 people employed through it directly or indirectly. Today, one of the most famous tourism attractions of the area is the “Tequila Express,” which runs from Guadalajara to the town of Tequila; this tour includes visits to tequila distilleries, which often offer regional food accompanied by mariachi musicians and regional dancers.
A brief note on the history of Tequila:
The plant was used in pre-Hispanic times to make a ceremonial drink. The Spanish used the sweet heart of the mature plant, called a piña (literally pineapple) to create a fermented and distilled beverage. The first person to have official permission to make and sell the liquor was José Antonio Cuervo in 1758. In 1888, the first license to export was given to the Sauza family. The drink’s popularity is entwined with the history of the railroad; this means of shipping enabled entrepreneurial producers to sell their goods to a much wider area.
Tequila comes in three styles: blanco (unaged), reposado (aged in oak barrels two months up to one year) and añejo, which is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of one year and a maximum of three years. There is also extra añejo, aged for a minimum of three years.