La Tierra

Tequila production process vs Agave spirits

Close up of woman taking Tequila shot

Its all about the Tequila production process, origin and Agave plant!

Potatoes give us vodka, juniper berries gifted us with gin, and Tequila? Tequila is a product of the wonder plant, Agave. However, Tequila is technically not the only spirit we derive from the Agave plant.

Tequila, Mezcal and Agave spirits are essentially three of a kind – three spirits all derived from the Agave plantThe differentiation between these spirits revolves around three key points: the Tequila production process , geographical origin of the spirit, and the specific Agave plant utilised in its production.

So what’s in a name? We’ve compiled a summary table for easy reference on the differences between Tequila, Mezcal and Agave spirits! 

Spirit Agave Plant Place of Origin Method of Production
Tequila Blue Weber Agave (Agave Tequilana) Jalisco (Tequila), Mexico Traditional Tequila production process-very strict regulations
Mezcal Any Agave varietal from Mexico Anywhere in Mexico Similar to the Tequila production process -standard regulations
Agave Spirits Any Agave varietal such as Tobala, Tepeztate and Sisalana. Anywhere in the world Similar production process of Tequila or Mezcal- no regulations
La Tierra Agave Spirit Agave Americana (Karoo Agave) Graaff-Reinet, Karoo Traditional Tequila production process

Method of production 

Tequila, Mezcal, and other Agave spirits differ not only in their taste, but also in the production methods used to create them. Tequila is made by steaming the heart of the Blue Weber Agave plant, which is then crushed and distilled in copper stills. 

Mezcal can be made of any of the 40 kinds of Agave varieties, but must be produced in Mexico. Mezcal however, is not bound by the production standards of Tequila and can be considered a Mexican craft Agave spirit. Mezcal came before Tequila, so Tequila is actually a type of Mezcal! 

The Agave Espadin is used to make the majority of its Mezcals due to its beautiful smokey flavour profile, much like La Tierras Agave spirit. Agave Espadin also takes a similar time to grow as the Karoo Agave/Agave Americana, which is around 10-20 years and is typically cooked in underground pits lined with hot rocks, giving it a more smoky flavor. 

Other Agave spirits such as La Tierra, Sotol and Raicilla also have a unique Tequila production method, such as roasting the plant in underground pits. These differences in production methods contribute to the distinct flavors and aromas of each type of Agave spirit. 

Good quality means all of the Agave plant is used in production

The purest form of Agave spirits is when 100% of the Agave plant is used. These are usually more expensive. A mixto is precisely what it sounds like, a Tequila or Agave spirt made from 51% Agave, mixed with another kind of sugar. The remaining 49% can be made up of any fermentable sugars, which can include caramel coloring, oak extract, or glycerin. 

While a mixto  may be cheaper and more widely available than 100% Agave spirits, it is often considered lower in quality and taste. This is why it is highly recommended to always choose 100% Agave spirits. Not only is it made from pure  Agave nectar, but it also undergoes a more rigorous production process, resulting in a smoother and more complex flavor profile. 

tequila production process using agave americana from KarooWe make use of locally sourced Agave, called Agave Americana, which is grown in the Karoo region. We prefer to stay true to the traditional Tequila production process of Mexico. This allows us to pay homage to the Mexican culture that brought Agave to the world, as well as ensure we produce a high quality Karoo Agave spirit. 

The Agave Americana is the most common Agave species used to make Agave spirits in South Africa, where as other Agave spirts are made using the Agave Espadin such as Mezcal.

Mezcal, the predecessor of Tequila, is a complicated category that is broad, and nuanced. Every variation in Agave plant, every tweak in the distillation process or choice of barrel wood and rest time yields a different result in taste, smoothness, quality and purity. 

Mezcal is really an endless exploration of Agave, and allows for small batch craft spirits to be created. In this regard, Mezcal and Agave spirits are similar!

La Tierra Agave Spirits

La Tierra has crafted three distinct Agave spirits, utilising the age-old Tequila production method of Mexico, and the Agave Americana plant. These spirits are guaranteed to tantalize your taste buds with their unique and delightful flavors. Blanco and Reposado are two popular varieties of Tequila that are differentiated by their aging process. 

Blanco

Blanco, or Silver, is 100% Agave spirit in its purest form. Sometimes called the essence of Tequila by distillers in Mexico. Double distilled for a smooth experience, our Blanco highlights the magical qualities of its only ingredient, the sweet Karoo Agave.

It is often characterized by its sharp Agave taste and a slight hint of citrus, making it a popular choice for margaritas and other mixed drinks.

la tierra agave

Reposado

Reposado meaning “rested” in Spanish, is La Tierra’s golden aura. 

Reposado  is usually aged for a minimum of two months, but no longer than a year, in oak barrels that give it a more complex flavor profile. 

The aging process imparts a smooth and mellow taste, with notes of vanilla, caramel, and wood. This makes a Reposado a great sipping spirit and a popular choice for those who prefer a more refined and sophisticated taste.

 La Tierras Reposado is aged for 3 months in recycled bourbon barrels, which gives the spirit a rich and unique experience when sipped.

close up of la tierra agave reposado

Anejo

Anejo translating to old” in Spanish is the Madala of our three Agave spirits. It commands respect and is best served neat and slowly savoured. We age our Anejo for 12 months in recycled American oak barrels, to give you a smooth, complex, and full-bodied experience with notes of warm oak and roasted Agave.

Pictured below is the local Agave farmer, Tim Murray with the Agave Americana plant he has growing abundantly in the Karoo. The Murrays have been growing Agave Americana in Graaff- Reinet for over 5 generations. Tim has an amazing farm open to anyone wanting to learn more about the Agave and how it is grown! 

La Tierra’s artisanal Agave spirits are meticulously crafted to suit the South African taste buds. With its versatile flavor profile, our spirits are ideal for all occasions, whether you’re enjoying a relaxed chat around the braai, savoring a refreshing sundowner or mixing up a creative cocktail. La Tierra is undoubtedly the go-to beverage for discerning Agave drinkers who appreciate quality and flavor.

You can place your orders here! Cheers Mzansi!

local farmer with agave americana

Share this article

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email