What is Gold Tequila and how does it differ from other varieties?
Tequila is a distilled spirit produced in a small region in northwestern Mexico about fifty kilometers north of Guadalajara. The terms "Reposado" and "Gold" are used for aged tequilas that differ in color and taste from clear Silver or Blanco Tequila. Gold, Joven or Oro Tequila are designations for a blend of unaged Silver Tequila and aged Aged- to Ultra-Aged Tequilas. Reposado or Aged Tequila is aged for a minimum of 2 months to a year in oak barrels. With the characteristic light beige to golden coloring, you'll find tequilas from 3 Josés, Casa and La Cofradia, Corralejo, Don Julio, Olmeca and Padre Azul. The designations "Gold" and "Silver" indicate the respective degree of purity of the tequila. Tequila Silver is pure and unadulterated and therefore triggers a lesser hangover the next morning. Tequila Gold, on the other hand, may have colorings, flavorings, glycerin and sugar syrup added. Varieties are divided into three classes, Aged (Reposado), Extra Aged (Añejo), and Ultra Aged (Extra Añejo), according to the aging period.
The history of the Mexican national drink
Surely you have heard that tequila is considered the national drink of Mexico. We will explain where this idea comes from and when the spirit was developed. The origin of the drink is the juice of the agave. This is a plant native to Mexico. Its juice is said to have been highly valued by the Aztecs and even worshipped as the "blood of the gods". No wonder that the natives wanted a piece of the heavenly powers and helped themselves to the miracle plant. For their drink, the natives crushed boiled agave hearts in a mortar before adding water and letting the mixture steep in the sun. Only special people such as kings, regulars, warriors and priests were allowed to drink from the "blood of the gods". Due to the alcohol content, the liquid was slightly intoxicating and can be compared to sacrificial wine, as it is still represented in many religious circles today. There was only one day of the year when the "common people" had access to the tequila predecessor: On the Day of the Dead.
But how did it become an alcoholic beverage? This development can be traced back to the Spaniards, who came to Mexico around 1600, saw to the downfall of the Aztec empire and discovered the "miracle juice" in the process. They used the distilling technique they knew to conjure up the first tequila from the plant juice. Distilling was not a European art, but demonstrably came to Europe via Egypt. It is not clear when this method was invented, but it is assumed that it was used to make perfume and medicine in the Orient centuries before Christ. Some sources, on the other hand, suggest that the Aztecs knew as early as the 11th century that the juice of the agave ferments on contact with the air, turning it into a milky and alcoholic liquid. Whether this can be seen as a precursor to distilling, however, is not comprehensively understood. At first, the Spaniards used all parts of the agave except for the heart. One day they are said to have observed that the natives had a fondness for chewing and preparing the hearts. It turned out that the hearts were very rich in sugar and gave a special flavor to their alcoholic drinks. With Mexico's independence in 1821, Spanish alcoholic beverages were hardly imported. This caused the sales of tequila to explode in Guadalajara. This made the Mexican spirit available in Mexico City as well as throughout the country. However, with the invention of the railroad at the end of the 19th century, masses of American and European spirits were once again transported to Mexico, and the upper classes had developed a taste for French alcohol. This led to tequila being a drink of the lower class for decades. It was not until the Mexican Revolution in 1920 that attitudes changed radically and tequila slowly became the national drink of Mexico. From the 1930s, the image of the South American drink was further enhanced by Hollywood, and the spirit thus gained popularity worldwide. From which time the Gold Tequila was produced is not known. However, this will hardly have happened before the 1950s, because it was not until this decade that new varieties were developed and the alcohol content was lowered. In addition, ingredients such as sugar syrup were previously very expensive and difficult to obtain due to the wars.
Production and manufacturing steps of the (Gold) Tequila
Both Gold Tequila and its relative Silver Tequila may only be produced in Mexico in the five designated regions in the state of Jalisco, as well as in certain localities in the states of Nayarit, Tamaulipas, Michoacán and the Guanajuato, and original spirits must always bear the indication that they are made from agave. This reference is printed on the respective label. The Weber blue agave is still the main ingredient (in Silver's case, the sole ingredient along with alcohol) and Mexicans are proud of this. This distinguishes Mexican brandy from European varieties and makes it so popular as a cocktail ingredient. But how is the national drink of the Mexicans made?
A plant of the blue Weber agave must grow for an average of eight to nine years before it can be harvested for tequila production. After harvesting, the heart of the agave is cooked in an oven between 60 and 85 °C for 24 to 36 hours under steam. Since this is very cumbersome, many producers have looked for a cheaper and faster option and now use autoclaves for their production. In them, the plant innards are cooked under high pressure and with hot steam for eight to 14 hours. In the process, the sugar contained is converted into simple sugar of the type used in candy. After the hearts are removed from the autoclaves, they must cool for a period of 36 to 48 hours before they can be processed further. After cooling, the hearts are crushed and rinsed with a jet of water, which releases the juice and sugar from the agave parts before they are squeezed in the next step. At this point, the producer decides whether to have Silver Tequila or Gold Tequila. For the "pure" Silver, the juice and sugar are put into large tanks without any additives. For the golden variety, various additives such as caramel, oak extracts, glycerin and sugar syrup are added to the squeezed extracts, with the additives only accounting for a maximum of one percent of the total weight. In Tequila Gold, 51 percent of agave sugar is blended with 49 percent of other sugars. After all the ingredients have been added to the tanks, the producer adds yeast or, in very rare cases (for so-called "real tequila"). Depending on the temperature and the season, the mixture remains in the tanks for between 24 hours and 12 days, although the addition of chemical agents can speed up this process. During this process, the sugar is converted into alcohol and a small part of the yeast dies. Next comes double distillation, and in some cases triple distillation. For this step, the mass is placed in traditional copper tanks or modern steel tanks, where it is distilled for four to eight hours. The good 100-percent tequila may only be bottled in Mexico, and only in bottles intended for that purpose. Only these varieties must bear the inscription "Hecho en México" (Made in Mexico). The other varieties may be bottled and stored in tanks outside the borders. There are very strict rules for the production of tequila, which are monitored by the Mexican regulatory authority "Consejo Regulador del Tequila" (CRT). To certify the authenticity of the bottles, the authority issues so-called NOM and DOT identification numbers, which are printed on the respective bottle label.
The age grades for the stored tequila
The different types of tequila are classified as Silver and Gold. In addition, there is a distinction between the time of storage, as mentioned above in the article. A tequila labeled Reposado (Aged) must have been aged for at least two months. Añejo (Extra-aged) means that the bottle had to be aged for at least one year, and the strictest level, Extra-Añejo (Ultra-aged), means that the tequila was aged for at least three years. If you want to buy Gold Tequila, you should pay attention to the maturity level, because the length of storage has an impact on the taste. The longer a bottle has been stored, the more intense its taste. Especially with the Gold Tequila this is of great importance, because it has some additional flavors like caramel. Depending on whether you want to drink the tequila neat or mixed with orange, you should think about this. The finish also depends on the storage time. Before you buy Gold Tequila, consider whether you like a stronger flavor with brandy.
Known varieties of Tequila Gold
Since tequila may only be produced in a few places in Mexico, there are significantly fewer varieties than for other spirits or distilled spirits. Nevertheless, there are well-known varieties that we can recommend to you. Here we present the most famous varieties:
-Sierra Tequila Gold:
This variety has an alcohol content of 38% vol. and can be enjoyed neat or combined many times. It is recommended to be added to long drinks as well as in combination with cinnamon, orange and beer. The brandy is known for its very light golden color and mild and soft taste. It belongs to the Reposado maturation and is produced in Jalisco by the Sierra company. The variety is sold in a Gold Tequila Shop, as well as available in the gastronomy. The brandy is offered in 3.0 l, 1.0 l, 0.7 l and 0.04 l bottles.
-Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila:
This variety is both the oldest and the most sold. The Jose Cuervo distillery was founded in 1795 by Jose Antonio de Cuervo and is now in its 10th generation and still family owned. This spirit is produced and bottled in Jalisco. It is known to be aged for three months in oak barrels and it has an alcohol content of 38% by volume. The spirit is characterized both by the very light hue and by its aroma of agave and oak and convinces with a mild taste. Especially as a shot with cinnamon and orange it is very popular. The tequila has received several awards.
-Sauza Tequila Gold:
This variety also comes with an alcohol content of 38% vol. and is known for its fresh and smooth taste of agave in combination with a light vanilla aroma. Sold in 700ml and 1l bottles, the tequila was purchased in 1873 by Don Cenobio Sauza, who shortly thereafter exported to the United States. Thus, his brandy was the first tequila drunk and bought outside Mexico. His son Eladio took over the business in 1909 and renamed the distillery "La Perseverancia", which is still located in the city of Tequila. It, too, is made and bottled in Jalisco and to this day has the reputation of being the most popular tequila in Mexico; in Germany, it ranks second.
-Olmeca Tequila Gold:
This variety is a mix of Blanco and Anejo Tequila at an alcohol content of 38% vol. The tequila is available in 700ml bottles and stands out for its fruity and sweet flavor. This sweet aroma meets a touch of spiciness, making it particularly tasty in its finish. The Anejo Tequila portion must age in oak barrels for 18 months, while the Silver Tequila requires no aging time. This favors the contradictory and at the same time perfectly harmonizing aroma of sweetness and spice, which is rounded off by a hint of honey in the finish. It is particularly popular to drink this variety neat, in order to savour the different aromas in the best possible way.
If you haven't had any experience with Tequila Gold before, we recommend you try one of these varieties, it's definitely worth it. If none of the described flavors appeals to you, you can check out our Gold Tequila Shop. We offer many different varieties in our Gold Tequila Shop and will be happy to advise you. Before you buy Gold Tequila, keep in mind that you must be at least 18 years old.
How to drink Tequila Gold like a pro
If you're familiar with spirits and spirits, you're certainly no stranger to the question of proper drinking habits. Especially when it comes to whiskey, this question comes up particularly often as well. Should you rather drink your preferred variety pure, enjoy it as a nightcap or better combine it in long drinks? In itself, it is a question of personal taste, and in the end it is important that you enjoy it. It's worth trying out different varieties as well as different drinking options so you can get to know your own preferences better. Here we will show you how tequila is drunk in Mexico.
The first question you should ask yourself is: warm or cold? Germans prefer their alcohol chilled, but in Mexico it is usually enjoyed at room temperature. So if you want to bring the original Mexican feeling into your living room, you should not chill the bottle before enjoying it. Should you be among the faction for whom summer drinks are always served with ice cubes, be aware of the mellowed intensity of tequila. Tequila Gold, in particular, is not usually drunk cold. But how is the Mexican national dish tasted now? Before you start tasting, you should know the categories. A glass is tasted for aroma/smell, taste, body and finish. On the first sip, pay attention to taste, then body. This paraphrases how the flavors spread in the mouth before swallowing. Among other things, look for the fullness and complexity of the flavor profile. The finish says something about the remaining aftertaste of the tequila after swallowing. The most important thing here is which flavors remain in the mouth afterward, and with what intensity. If you want to proceed in a very professional manner, we recommend that you try out various nosing techniques before tasting. Smell first at the bottom edge of the glass and then in the middle and you will notice that you smell different aromas, even though they are the same variety. Then when you sniff the top edge, the aromas vary again.
Especially when you get together with friends and family, you can try drinking rituals. In Germany, a combination with salt and lemon is very popular. If you want to prepare your taste buds, you can dip half a lime in salt and lick it. Another option is to combine it with sangrita. This is a non-alcoholic, spicy drink made from fruit and vegetable juices and enhanced with chili. Drink a sip of tequila first, followed by a sip of the juice. Tequila is also a must in cocktails like the Tequila Margarita and the Tequila Sunrise or the Mexican favorites Charro Negro (ice, Tequila Blanco, cola and lime) and Paloma (ice, Tequila Blanco, grapefruit lemonade)! In Germany, a combination with cinnamon and orange is also very popular, especially during the Christmas season, as well as with beer.