La Tierra

What is the remarkable Agave spirit?

close up of friends toast with tequila shots

Like tequila – but make it local!

So you’ve heard about local Agave, you’ve pinned the recipes for your summer cocktails, and now you have just one question…what exactly is Agave spirit

Luckily for you, we’ve got it covered. Agave spirit is the term used to describe spirits, made from the Agave plant, that is distilled using the traditional Mexican way such as Tequila and Mezcal.

So lets first talk about tequila..

We’re all familiar with the concept of champagne being a sparkling wine that originates in the Champagne region of France. We also know that variations of sparkling wine exist around the world. South African wineries produce a similar sparkling wine to champagne called Methode Cap Classique (MCC). Tequila works similarly.

For Tequila to be called ‘Tequila’, it must originate in one of the five Tequila-producing regions in Mexico – the biggest being Jalisco – and is subject to strict production rules and regulations.

First, it must be harvested from the Blue Weber Agave plant. Tequila can only be made using the Blue Weber Agave, otherwise known as the Agave Tequilana, which takes about seven years before the fruit (Piña) is mature for harvest. 

The Piña is then ground, its juices extracted and the liquid follows a traditional process of distillation, fermentation, cooking, filtration, ageing and then finally, blending.

agave spirit in glass

To be called Tequila, 51% of the sugars that are fermented must come from the Agave Tequilana. The other 49% can come from any other sugar which is usually why you have a headache the next day after drinking low quality Agave spirits. 

Top quality Tequila and Agave spirits will always display 100% Agave on the label, if it does not have that statement, you are actually drinking a Mixto Tequila (a mix of Agave sugar and other sugars).

So we understand Tequila – but where does Mezcal and Agave spirit fit in?

Mezcal is defined as a spirit that is also made from the Agave plant and produced in Mexico, but outside the Tequila region. Mezcal can be made in a total of nine regions in Mexico; the most popular religion being Oaxaca. 

Mezcal does not need to be made with the Blue Weber Agave /Agave Tequilana, it can be made from over 50 varieties of Agave plants, with the most popular being the Espadin Agave. Did you know that all Tequila is Mezcal, but not all Mezcal is Tequila. This is similar in the sense that Bourbon is a type of Whiskey just like Tequila is a type of Mezcal.

An Agave spirit is made from any Agave plant, but outside of Mexico! It’s like Tequila (made from the Agave plant), but local.

In essence, Tequila is about the place, the plant and the people that make it.
Mezcal is about the plant and the place.
And Agave spirit is purely about the plant!

South Africa’s Agave Spirit Industry

South Africa has a fast-growing Agave spirit industry! The boom in Mezcal and Agave spirits globally has given rise to craft Agave Spirit brands – each with its own personality, flavors, complexities and stories.

La Tierra celebrates South African culture, while still paying homage to the roots of the Agave spirit in Mexico. As an independent, craft Agave spirit, we concentrate all our efforts on ensuring our product is as close to the process of traditional Tequila production, as possible.

This is not just our way of acknowledging the roots of Agave but also ensures a high-quality spirit is produced. From Mexico to Mzansi, La Tierra is smooth, sweet and proudly South African.

Karoo Agave Americana

close up of the karoo agave in south Africa
Karoo Agave/Agave Americana- Graaff Reinet, South Africa.

In South Africa, the conditions of the Karoo desert closely mirror the conditions in Mexico where Tequila is produced. This is what allows us to grow our Agave plants and fuels the South African Agave spirit industry

There are farmers who are actively cultivating the Karoo Agave, also known as the Agave Americana, for the many uses the plant has. The production of unique tasing Karoo Agave spirits will put South Africa on the map for exceptional production of craft Tequilas, just like we have done with our MCC.

The Karoo Agave/Agave Americana matures for between 10 and 20 years, and distillers pioneering the Agave spirit industry ensure the process for production adheres to global standards.

La Tierra Agave Spirit

La Tierra’s adherence to the traditional Mexican production methods results in the creation of a truly unique South African Tequila, achieved through the following steps:

    • The ripened Pina (fruit) of the Agave plant is hand-harvested using sustainable farming practices
    • The Pina is slow-roasted in an underground brick pit for three days to achieve optimal flavor. 
    • The cooked Pina is carefully cut into pieces and transferred to a basket press to extract all the sweet nectar, which is collected and pumped into fermentation tanks. 
    • The Agave nectar is combined with a special yeast and is fermented for 3-5 days, before being distilled in a copper pot still. This step provides the spirit with its distinct fruity, vegetal, and smoky grass notes. 
    • The distilled Agave spirit is then double-distilled using a hybrid steel column still. This provides the spirit with its smooth, clean finish called Blanco.
    • The Blanco is aged in oak casks to develop its rich color and unique character. 
    • La Tierra Reposado is aged for three months, while the Anejo is aged for twelve months in recycled American oak barrels, yielding a truly exquisite and refined flavor.
     
     We take our time cultivating a smooth and sweet Agave spirit for you to enjoy with friends – around the braai, at the pool or in your favorite cocktail. With two beautiful blends, La Tierra Blanco and Reposado, its the perfect drink to toast to good times, with great people!

    Close up of la tierra agave blanco and reposado karoo agave spirit

    Share this article

    Facebook
    Twitter
    LinkedIn
    Email