Tequila 101

11 June 2019

As part of our award-winning Sales Gallery’s Spring Into Summer event series, 1000M recently hosted Kai Wilson, Restaurant Manager and Beverage Baron at Mercat a la Planxa, to lend his experience in all things tequila. In case you missed our tasting event, we’re sharing Kai’s expertise on Tequila 101:

From Plant to Your Glass

Like all great booze, tequila comes from an unsuspecting plant—in this case, the agave plant. Though there are over 200 varieties of agave, tequila comes specifically from the agave tequilana, or Blue Weber Agave, which is particular to the state of Jalisco. The name tequila comes from the town Tequila in that region, a mountainous valley area where the Blue Weber Agave was especially common.

Tequila in All Its Forms

There are two categories of tequila—the first being 51% fermentable sugars from the agave plant and supplemented by fermented cane sugar, versus the second being 100% pure agave-fermented tequila.

The difference between these two is the taste factor. With 100% tequila, more of the agave character is present, giving complexity and depth with vegetative flavors like lime zest, honeycomb and hay.

Within the two categories, there are four styles: blanco, white; reposado, rested; añejo, aged and extra añejo, extra aged. Each style refers to how long the tequila aged within oak, from blanco which isn’t aged at all, to extra añejo that can rest over three years. The last two have a smooth taste from the oak, making them best for sipping. As Kai says, “not everything has to go into a margarita.”

Some Common Misconceptions

51% tequila is budget-friendly, with flavor less smooth. The agave plant takes 8-10 years to fully mature, and many tequilas will cut that time in half to save money. The result is a tequila that’s harsher—probably similar to the stuff you drank during Spring Break in college. If you need to lick a line of salt and bite a lime to stomach the taste of your tequila shot, “then you should probably upgrade your tequila,” says Kai.

Another common misconception: the worm. Though a worm may appear in the bottom of some con gusano, with worm, mezcals, it serves as a marketing gimmick and not a hallucinogenic. “If you’re having hallucinations by eating the worm at the bottom of mezcal,” Kai says, “it’s probably because you drank the entire bottle of mezcal.” The worm itself is actually safe to eat, inspired by dried worms that are common snacks in Northern Mexican markets, and enjoyed with salt and ground-up peppers.

Tequila Tasting at Home

For anyone wanting to try a tequila tasting at home, Kai recommends picking one particular line of tequilas. That way, you can truly enjoy the difference in aging. Keeping it within the family helps you pick up on the differences that distinguish each style, and to help you learn your favorite tequila style. Blancos and reposados are great for margaritas, while the sophisticated taste of añejo and extra añejo are perfect for sipping.

Kai brings his tequila expertise into his restaurant, Mercat a la Planxa. He uses his knowledge to bring forth characteristics of each tequila, as exemplified in one tequila featured at the 1000M tasting. Desert Bloom uses a honey-sage syrup to bring the vegetative and honeycomb flavor of the tequila forward in a cocktail, complimented by just a touch of mezcal for smokiness.

Be sure to visit Kai at Mercat a la Planxa to try a few great tequilas for yourself, and visit the 1000M Sales Gallery for more upcoming programming and information on our luxurious condominiums.