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While infamous outside of Mexico for its memory altering properties, in its home country tequila comes in a number of varieties. From the rougher blancos to the peppery, middle-aged reposados and smoother, woody flavor of an anejo, tequila is considered a delicacy to be savored, like a fine cognac.

Mexican Tequila: How its made

Originally from the state of Jalisco, this liquor with 38-40% alcohol content is made by distilling the heart of the agave plant, commonly misinterpreted as a cactus, but actually a member of the lily family.

What's with the worm?

Contrary to popular belief, the placement of a worm at the bottom is not truly authentic, but is instead a gringo marketing ploy invented to boost sales. However this doesn’t deter enthusiastic tourists all over Mexico from attempting to empty the bottle in its pursuit, though its mild alcoholic and reputedly aphrodisiac properties probably don’t even register by the time you’ve managed to reach the bottom. Actually a grub that lives in the agave plant, the worm is really exclusive to mezcal, tequila’s sister drink- a similarly potent firewater, but made from a variety of maguey plants whereas tequila is 100% blue agave.

Types of Tequila

There are up to 500 brands of tequila, the best known being Jose Cuervo and Sauza, but only 100 of the manlier mezcal, which is native to Oaxaca. Tequila can be found in any bar or supermarket in the country, but a really special experience is going to the town of Tequila in Jalisco and taking a guided tour of the various factories to see the distilling process, which includes free samples.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Mexico: Quesillo Cheese and Slow Food.

17 Nov 2008

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