Illustration of jimadores harvesting agave

What Is Real Tequila from Mexico?

So, what is real tequila from Mexico? It all comes down to its origin, the Blue Weber Agave, and the strict CRT regulations that protect the real deal. Let’s dive into the history, regions, and complexity behind this famous drink.

Key Points

  • Real tequila is made from the Blue Weber Agave. It’s a Mexican spirit with strict production rules overseen by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT) to ensure quality and authenticity.

  • Real tequila can only be produced in specific regions of Mexico. Jalisco is the birthplace. Like Champagne, the place of production is critical to the spirit’s identity and gives it unique flavors.

  • Tequila is categorized into two main types: 100% agave tequila and mixto tequila, with variations like Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo. These allow consumers to experience the different flavors of tequila.

The Essence of Authentic Tequila

Illustration of Blue Weber Agave plant

Tequila’s timeline is as long and complicated as the flavor. Since the 16th century, the production of this agave spirit has shown the Mexican people’s strength and creativity.

From the fields of Jalisco to your glass, every sip of real tequila is a taste of Mexico.

The Blue Agave Heart

At the heart of real tequila is the Blue Weber Agave, a plant as unique as the spirit it produces. This agave’s flavor profile ranges from earthy to citrus and makes tequila.

The ‘piña,’ or heart of the agave, is harvested full of natural sugars, ready for fermentation and tequila transformation.

Traditional Distillation

Tequila production is not just about the agave; it’s also about the distillation. Traditionally, tequila is distilled in pot stills, heating the fermented agave juice until the alcohol vapors separate from the water and solids.

This is done twice to preserve the tequila’s sweetness and to achieve a consistent flavor profile of high-quality tequila.

CRT Standards

The Mexican government has strict regulations on tequila to protect its integrity and quality. Since 1978, the Normas Oficiales Mexicanas (NOM) has regulated all aspects of tequila production, distribution, and quality control under the supervision of the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT).

The NOM number on the label is the distillery of production, a tool for the consumer to check the tequila’s authenticity.

Unveiling the Real Tequila Regions

Illustration of Jalisco landscape

The authenticity of tequila is not just about its production process but also about its geographical origin. Just as Champagne can only be produced in the Champagne region of France, real tequila can only be produced in specific regions of Mexico, including:

  • Jalisco

  • Guanajuato

  • Michoacán

  • Nayarit

  • Tamaulipas

Let’s explore these regions further.

State of Jalisco: Tequila’s Birthplace

The state of Jalisco, home to the town of Tequila, is recognized as the birthplace of tequila. This region, with its ideal climate and soil conditions, allows the Blue Weber Agave to thrive, contributing to producing high-quality tequila.

Other Authorized Regions

While Jalisco is the heartland of tequila, production extends beyond its borders. Other Mexican states where tequila can be legally produced include:

  • Tamaulipas

  • Nayarit

  • Michoacán

  • Guanajuato

Each state has its unique terroir and flavor contributions.

Categories of Genuine Mexican Tequila

Illustration of tequila aging process

Like the diverse regions of Mexico, tequila comes in various categories, each with its unique characteristics. Tequila is classified into two primary categories based on the agave sugar content: 100% agave tequila and mixto tequila. These categories also consider tequila types with distinct flavors and production methods.

Let’s delve into these classifications a bit more.

Blanco: The Purest Form

Blanco tequila, also known as silver or platinum tequila, is the purest form of this spirit. It is characterized by its unadulterated profile, prominently featuring the peppery sparkle and subtle sweetness inherent to Blue Weber Agave. This unaged tequila, bottled immediately after distillation, ensures the preservation of the agave plant’s natural flavor profile.


Joven tequila is a lesser-known, fifth form of the spirit that is becoming more prevalent in the market, especially in its Gold form. Traditionally, Joven can be a blanco tequila combined with some aged tequila. This doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of quality, as the famous distillery, Casa Dragones, makes a Joven that is blanco mixed with 5-year extra añejo and is regarded worldwide as one of the finest sipping Tequilas on the market. When a Tequila is labeled as Gold, it’s usually a more cost-driven product to keep up with the demand for affordable spirits that can be used as house pours or high-volume sale cocktails. It consists of tequila that is not aged or rested in wood but has caramel coloring, sugars, oak extract, and even glycerin. A great example would be Jose Cuervo Gold.

Reposado and Añejo: The Art of Aging

While Blanco tequila offers the purest agave flavor, Reposado and Añejo tequilas bring a different dimension to the taste palette. Reposado tequila is aged in oak barrels or storage tanks for 2 to 11 months, leading to a golden color and milder flavors than Blanco.

Añejo tequila, aged for a minimum of one year in oak barrels, acquires a darker color and a complex flavor profile.

Extra Añejo: The Epitome of Smoothness

For those seeking the ultimate tequila experience, Extra Añejo is the epitome of smoothness. Aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels, this tequila category possesses a pronounced depth and character, resulting in a luxurious and exceptionally refined spirit.

From Harvest to Bottle: Making of a Premium Tequila

Illustration of jimadores harvesting agave

Premium tequila production is a meticulous process that begins in the agave fields and ends in a carefully crafted bottle, all to produce the highest-quality tequila.

Let’s follow this journey from harvest to bottle.

The Role of the Jimadores

The journey of tequila starts with the jimador, specialized farmers who play a pivotal role in selecting and harvesting ripe agave plants. The jimador’s expertise is crucial for identifying the agave plants suitable for high-quality tequila.

Fermentation and Distillation

The harvested agave plants undergo fermentation and distillation, key stages in tequila production. The fermentation process, taking place in wooden vats, develops the base for the alcoholic spirit.

Distillation in copper containers refines the flavors, leading to the creation of tequila.

Crafting the Final Product

Once distilled, the tequila is meticulously bottled. Each bottle is pre-rinsed with the same type of tequila it will contain to maintain the integrity of the final product’s taste and quality.

A diligent procedure ensures the tequila is correctly filled and the bottles securely sealed.

Modern Tequila Industry Innovations

Illustration of modern tequila distillery

The industry has seen remarkable innovations as the love for tequila grows globally. From sustainable farming practices to advanced water management and waste reuse methods, the modern tequila industry embraces sustainable practices while enhancing production efficiency and flavor profiles.

How to Identify and Choose Real Tequila

Given the wide variety of tequila available in the market, identifying and choosing real tequila can be challenging. When selecting real tequila, ensure the label states it is made from 100% Blue Weber Agave, is ‘made in Mexico’, and includes the NOM code that certifies its authenticity.


In this exploration of tequila, we have journeyed through centuries of tradition, from the agave fields of Mexico to the intricate processes of distillation and bottling. We have discovered the deep cultural significance of tequila, the unique regions of production, the different categories, and the meticulous process involved in crafting each bottle of this authentic Mexican spirit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is real tequila made from?

Real tequila is made from 100% Blue Weber Agave, giving it distinctive flavor and quality.

Where is tequila produced?

Tequila is produced in five regions of Mexico, including Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. These are the main areas where authentic tequila is made.

What are the different categories of tequila?

Based on aging, Tequila is categorized into Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo.

What are jimadores?

Jimadores are specialized farmers who select and harvest ripe agave plants for tequila production, primarily in Mexico.

How can I identify genuine tequila?

Look for tequila labeled “made in Mexico,” made from 100% Blue Weber Agave, and check for the NOM code to ensure its authenticity. These are key indicators of genuine tequila.

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