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MEXICO & TEQUILA



 

10 FACTS ABOUT MEXICO

1. Olmec, Maya, and Aztec civilizations shaped Mesoamerican history.

Mexico has a rich tapestry of ancient civilizations that have left an indelible mark on Mesoamerican history. Among these are the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec civilizations, each contributing unique cultural, architectural, and scientific advancements to the region.



2. Mexico is one of the 6 cradles of global civilization.

Mexico is one of the six cradles of civilization, a land steeped in history and heritage dating back to at least 8,000 BC. Within its borders, great empires like the Olmec, Toltec, Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Mayan, and Aztec civilizations are imprinted upon its landscapes.

Much like the ancient civilizations of India, Egypt, China, Peru, and Mesopotamia, Mexico’s rich history and culture has left an indelible mark on the world, showcasing the ingenuity, creativity, and resilience of its people throughout the ages.



3. Mexico has 68 indigenous languages.

Mexico’s linguistic landscape is as diverse as its cultural tapestry. Whereas Spanish is so widly spoken, the country has 68 official indigenous languages. The languages have a myriad of variations bringing the total indigenous dialects to a staggering 200.



4. The world's biggest pyramid is in Mexico.

In the heart of Cholula, you can find the Great Pyramid of Cholula (Tlachihualtepetl). Tlachihualtepetl means “made-by-hand mountain” in Nahuatl. This awe-inspiring complex is the largest archaeological site of a pyramid in the New World.



5. Mexico is home to one of the 7 Wonders of the World.

Nestled in the Yucatan Peninsula, Chichen Itza is a testament to the exactness of the ancient Mayan civilization. Dating back to 800–900 CE, this revered archaeological site has earned its place among the modern wonders of the world. The center is in Castillo A, a towering pyramid dedicated to the Mayan deity Kukulkan.



6. The name “Mexico” has many meanings.

Mexico’s historical roots start with its very name. The etymology of “Mexico” remains an enigma, with scholars and historians offering a variety of explanations but failing to reach a concord.

Some speculate that it signifies “Place Where the God of War Lives,” attributing it to the war god Mexi. Others say it means “At the Navel of the Moon.” Amidst these diverse theories, the truth remains still elusive.


7. Mexico’s silver pesos were the first global currency.

Silver pesos were the world’s inaugural global currency. Minted by the colonial government from silver, these coins traversed oceans and continents, establishing themselves as a cornerstone of international trade.



8. Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French.

Cinco de Mayo, one of the most important Mexican holidays, is celebrated every year on May 5th. It commemorates the triumph of the Mexican army over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Led by the valiant General Ignacio Zaragoza, Mexican forces defended the city of Puebla against overwhelming odds.



9. The Mexican Revolution shaped the country’s art scene.

Mexican muralism emerged as a powerful artistic force in the wake of the Mexican Revolution. Led by famous Mexican artists Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco, (Los Tres Grandes) the movement used murals to narrate Mexico’s history and champion social justice causes.

A movement that began in the early 1920's in which the government tried to educate the mostly illiterate population about the country's history. Inspired by the Revolution, artists created public art in many forms that stressed the pre-colonial history of Mexico, with the Grandes aiming to honor the cause.




10. Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) marks the cycle of life and death.

The Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) is a tribute to Mexico’s deeply rooted cultural traditions and spiritual beliefs. Every year on November 1st and 2nd, Mexicans celebrate the connection between the living and the dead. Communities come together to construct intricate ofrendas (altars) adorned with photographs, favorite foods, vibrant marigolds, candles, and other symbolic offerings.




 

PRODUCTION PROCESS

As known, a big part of Mexican history and traditions is the production of agave spirits.

There are 5 different types of agave spirits, with the most famous being Tequila. Mezcal follows, such as Sotol, Raicilla and Bacanora.

Tequila is made only from Blue Agave, There are many blue agave plants all over Mexico, but only 5 states can produce Tequila by authorization:Jalisco, Michoacan, Tamaulipas, Guanajuato and Nayarit.




What separates tequila from other agave spirits is the fact that it is only made from the blue agave plant. Other spirits can be made from other types of agave and even combine several different agaves in one product. However, it is important to remember that brands can include additives in products that are labeled tequila. For example, they may add caramel extract to enhance the color or oak extract for a more aged flavor. Otherwise, the Tequilas that have no additives are labeled as "Additive Free".

There are 4 classifications of Tequila:

  • Blanco (1-59 days of aging)

  • Reposado (60 days- 1 year of aging)

  • Anejo (1-3 years of aging)

  • Extra Anejo ( >3 years of aging)

An unclassified yet category of Tequila is the Cristalino. Cristalino is mostly añejo, or aged tequila that has been filtered (often through charcoal) to remove the natural colors it picks up from resting and aging inside the barrel.

History of Tequila:

The origins of Tequila can be traced back to around 250-300 AD. Over a thousand years ago, the Aztecs were using agave to create "pulque", an alcoholic drink that had a sour taste and cloudy appearance. They used a process similar to modern producers and would extract and ferment the agave’s juice.



In 1521, the Spanish conquerors invaded Mexico. They used their knowledge of the distillation process to turn the Aztecs’ traditional pulque drink into what we would recognize as a spirit. Just nine years later in 1600, tequila was being mass-produced.


Steps of Tequila Production:


1. Harvesting

First, the agave needs to be harvested. Even today, farmers use the traditional method of cutting the agave with a special tool known as a coa. This tool is used to remove the leaves from the piña bulb.



2. Baking

Next, the piña needs to be baked so that the sugars can be extracted. Today, this process is often completed in hornos, which are ovens made of brick or clay. Originally, tequila producers would bake piñas in large pits with rocks underneath to hold in the heat.



3. Extraction

Once the piña has been baked properly, it is time to shred it and extract the juice. Today, a mechanical shredder can be used to expedite this process, but some producers prefer to use a stone wheel, known as a tahona, to crush and juice the piña.



4. Fermentation

To turn the agave juice into a spirit, it has to go though the fermentation process. This includes placing the juice (often with fibers) and yeast into wooden barrels or stainless still tanks for anywhere from 3 to 12 days.



5. Distillation

After the agave has been fermented, it needs to be distilled, which is a process than not only purifies the liquid, but also creates a higher alcohol concentration. In most cases, Tequila is distilled twice. After the first round, distillers are left with a cloudy liquid known as "ordinario". After the secound round, the liquid is clear silver. From there, the tequila is ready to be aged.



6. Aging

The length of the aging process will vary based on the tequila being created. Starting from Reposado to Extra Anejo. The variety of the barrels used in the aging process can also be big. From american oak to european ( especially French), first used or refilled etc.



AGAVE PEOPLE

Who is Tomas Estes, the Tequila Ambassador:



We'd like to start by saying that none of most things that are happening right now around tequila wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for Tomas. Tomas Estes, founder of Ocho Tequila is reasonably called a legend.

Thomas George Estes was born on August 30, 1945, in Whittier, California. He grew up imbibing Mexican culture, first on trips across the border with his father, then later on his own, to Tijuana.

Tomas was a high-school English teacher that decided to open Mexican bars and restaurants across Europe, trying to change the image of Tequila and the misconceptions around it.

He started by opening his first restaurant called "Cafe Pacifico" in Amsterdam in 1976.



Tomas, born and raised in Southern California, had spent his youth shuttling to Tijuana, just across the Mexican border, where he had fallen in love with the varied flavors and styles of pure-agave tequila. He brought that same love to the bar at Café Pacifico, which soon became famous for having one of the best tequila collections in the world.

After the success of Café Pacifico, he opened 18 more restaurants and bars across Europe and Australia. At the bar, the customer could choose tequilas that were made from a small producer to a huge distillery.

In 2003 the National Chamber of the Tequila Industry, named Tomas the official tequila ambassador for the European Union.

Five years later, Estes and Camarena decided to create their own brand, Tequila Ocho.

Tomas Estes also had a passion for wine, and especially from Burgundy. Vintners and oenologists knew that the differences of the soil and the climate (terroir) were various and very important. That made Tomas and Carlos wonder how they could do the same thing with Tequila and agave fields. So instead of trying to not go against the different terroirs, what if they took advantage of them?

So, they decided that each batch would be made from agaves grown in a specific field and harvested in a particular season, and each bottle would list the details of its production.

And that's why Ocho has the "Single Estate" label on each bottle, and this is the reason why this Tequila is always different but always so tasteful.



Like Camarena said: “I thought he was a Mexican guy who by accident had been born outside Mexico. In his heart, he was Mexican.”





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