This photo provided by Jesus Maria shows Dwayne Johnson, co-founder of Teremana Tequila at the Teremana Tequila Distillery in Jalisco, Mexico. Johnson joins a list of celebrities including George Clooney, Nick Jonas and Kendall Jenner with their own brands of tequila. (Jesus Maria via AP)
Love it or hate it, tequila arouses strong feelings in many drinkers.
“Forgive us for the old memories of shoddy tequila!” jokes Antonio Rodriguez, production manager at Patrón Tequila. “We can’t hide that we come from a history where tequilas were generally not as premium as they are now. “
Deano Moncrieffe, founder of London tequila and mezcal bar Hacha, laments: “People always blame tequila for a bad hangover when in reality they probably started the night drinking wine and then drinking wine. beer, then champagne, then at some point, maybe 2 or 3 in the morning, someone said, let’s have tequila!
And Steffin Oghene, vice president of global marketing and sales for El Tequileño Tequila, agrees that tequila was once considered “the spirit of celebration, passion and waste.”
But, he says, “Over the past 10 years, a lot of effort has been put into educating people and making them understand that tequila is not just the mind to shoot. It’s a really complex mind ”that takes time and expertise to produce.
These rehabilitation efforts seem to be paying off. Tequila is one of the fastest growing alcoholic beverages in the United States, with consumption increasing 40% over the past five years, according to IWSR’s Beverage Market Analysis.
Hamish Smith, editor-in-chief of bartending magazine Class and bars editor-in-chief of Drinks International, says there is a growing understanding of the different qualities of tequila, with “100% agave” now the star performer, at the same time. single malt way is for Scotch.
“This awareness is opposed to the craft spirits movement, to appreciation of provenance, celebrity endorsement, and a cocktail industry that has showcased quality tequila for years,” Smith said. international growth year after year.
Despite its old reputation, experts say tequila is actually not a good choice for people looking to get drunk. While many spirits contain glucose, which causes blood sugar to spike rapidly followed by a crash, adding to hangovers, tequila contains fructose from the agave plant, which they say breaks down more. slowly.
For high-end tequila, don’t use a shot glass, says Nitzan Podoswa, founder of Satryna Tequila.
“Your nose is too close to the liquid, so you can’t really smell the notes properly. It just makes it easier to drink. But if you’re having really good tequila, you’ve got to have a cup of flute, ”she says.
And rather than drinking it all at once, swirl the liquid around your mouth to taste, she suggests.
There are three types of tequila, depending on the time spent in oak barrels before bottling. Blanco is 0-2 months old, reposado 2-11 months, añejo 1-3 years and extra añejo 3 years and over.
Moncrieffe begins by asking its customers what they usually drink. If it’s a white spirit, it directs them to a blanco; for bourbon or whiskey drinkers, he recommends a reposado; and for cognac drinkers, something more complex like an añejo or an extra añejo.
An agave plant takes about seven years to mature, and once harvested, there are many ways the plant can be cooked, fermented, and alcohol distilled.
“What you drink is actually very, very special. It’s very special how many years the plant has been in the ground and it’s very special how many people and how many agents are involved in the process, ”says Podoswa.
Rodriguez says current trends focus on aging, experimenting with time, temperature, and barrel types.
“We’re not talking about whiskeys in which the main flavor comes from the wood,” he says. “Tequila itself in a blanco expression already has a big personality. So when you get older tequila, you don’t try to get over it. You are looking to complete this.
“There’s also the cristalino category, which I guess was, for tequila purists, controversial,” Oghene adds. Popular in the United States and Mexico, a cristalino is an aged tequila that has been filtered to remove color and tannins, making it crystalline.
The growth in sales in the United States is attracting interest in other countries, Rodriguez says.
“Most of the rest of the world has had some kind of bad, cheap tequila,” says Jenna Fagnan, co-founder of Teremana Tequila with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. She says that for Johnson, tequila is about “togetherness”.
“For him,” he said, “when I was growing up, for our family, if something big happened, we would get together and people would take tequila. But also if something bad happens, we always get together and drink tequila, ”Fagnan said.
Johnson joins a list of celebrities including George Clooney, Nick Jonas and Kendall Jenner with their own brands of tequila. This was greeted with mixed feelings in the industry.
“Almost every week a new brand of celebrity tequila comes out,” Rodriguez says, “with only about 160 distilleries to produce tequila for thousands of brands. “
This means that several brands can be produced at the same location; while many do it well, he says others just buy the liquid and put it in a different bottle.
Podoswa advises consumers to research a brand before purchasing.
“Are they making a good product? Are they taking care of their agave? Do they do it in an artisanal and traditional way? “
Fagnan says she and Johnson work with one of the few family-owned distilleries in Mexico. She says Johnson “cares about people, about history, about sustainability.”
For new brands, star mentions grab attention and cause consumers to question old assumptions about tequila, says Paul Hayes, UK founder of Vivir Tequila.
“If these people are ready to drink tequila, these big celebrities, they don’t just shoot it in a bar. They have to drink in a different way. How are they and why are they drinking it? he says.
And Rodriguez hails the competition: “The way I see it is not that we are fighting between tequilas. We fight to show the world what tequila is.