100% agave: One of the two official variations of tequila, made exclusively from only sugars from the "Agave Tequilana Weber, Variedad Azul" (Agave Tequilana Weber, blue variety). Premium tequilas are made with "100% de Agave," and can only be bottled in Mexico, not bulk-shipped for bottling outside.

Abocado: Unaged tequila, mixto, often called gold (oro).

Agave: A group of succulents distantly related to the lily family, but not related to any cactus. Agave is poisonous when raw, but has a sweet, mild flavor when baked or made into a syrup. The juice of the blue agave, cultivated primarily in the state of Jalisco, is used to make tequila.

Agave Tequilana Weber Azul: The only agave allowed for use in tequila, and only when grown in specified regions according to the normas. It has long, rigid leafs and is a glaucuos blue.

Aguamiel: The sweet sap extracted from the piña (heart) of the agave plant. It is fermented for several days and then distilled to make tequila and mezcal.

Alquitara: Slow distillation.

Añejo: Tequila aged for at least one year in. Añejos may be aged between three and seven years, but generally no more than five.

Autoclave: A pressure cooker. Large autoclaves are used by many producers because the steam speeds the cooking of piñas; the agave is cooked in a few of hours instead of days in a traditional hornos.

Barrica: Barrel. Tequila is aged in oak barrels, although sometimes other types of wood are used.

Blanco: "White." Tequila bottled fresh from the still. Maybe allowed to rest in stainless steel tanks for up to sixty days before bottling, but never has exposure to wooden barrels. Also known as plata, plato, and silver tequila. Usually the most robust, strong-flavored of the tequila types.

Blanco suave: An unofficial term to indicate blanco tequila with extra aging or additives to smoothen its sharp taste.

Caballito: The traditional tall drinking/shot glass for tequila, also called a tequillita. Has a flat bottom and wider mouth.

Camara Regional de la Industria Tequila: Regional Chamber of the Tequila Industry, formed in 1990 to strengthen and develop the tequila industry. It works with the Mexican government to protect and strengthen agricultural, industrial, and commercial activities related to tequila, protects and guards the management of the agave plantations in order to ensure future supply. The CRT also takes legal action against companies adultering their product., Composed of industry members, and based in Guadalajara.

Cien por ciento: One hundred percent; tequila or mezcal made with only agave sugars (blue agave for tequila)

Corazon: Heart. The main portion of the distillate that actually becomes tequila. Also known as the middle part of the distillate.

Consejo Regulado de Tequila: Tequila Regulatory Counci). A non-profit organization, founded in 1994, that verifies the performance and the fulfillment of Mexican standards (normas) concerning tequila. It also guarantees the tequila's authenticity and quality, and protects the Denomination Appelation of Origin worldwide. Members of the Council include the Mexican government, agave farmers, tequila producers, bottlers and distributors.


Denomination of Origin: The law that establishes all the specifications required to produce, bottle, distribute and sell tequila, to protect and maintain the Denomination of Origin. According to the "Appellation de Origin Controllee" (AOC), tequila can only be produced in Mexico. In the wine and spirits industry there are only four drinks recognized with Denomination of Origin: sherry, cognac, champagne and tequila.

Destilacion: Distillation. Heating the fermented must (mosto) to extract the alcohol. After distillation, the alcohol is filtered.

Fermentation: using yeast to transform the sugars contained in the aguamiel into ethyl alcohol.

Gran reposado: Unofficial term used to indicate a reposado with longer aging time that officially required.

Gusano: A butterfly larva, also called a worm. It lives in the heart or leaves of agave plants. It is sometimes placed in bottles of mezcal, but never in tequila.. There are two kinds of worms: gusano de oro (gold) and the more prized gusano rojo (red).

Hecho en Mexico: Made in Mexico. Should be on all labels of 100% tequila.

Horno: A traditional oven used to bake the agave piñas.

Jalisoco: Mexican state where the town of Tequila is located. It is also where the vast majority of the agave used for tequila is harvested and distilled.

Joven: Young tequila. Similar to white (blanco) tequila, but often with added color and flavoring.

Joven Abocado: Young and smooth. Tequila to which flavorings and often coloring are added to make it more palatable. Usually referred to as "Gold" (oro) tequila.

Madurado: Mature, another term for reposado.

Maguey: Spanish word used for all agave.

Mezcal, mescal: Another name for maguey plant. Also the generic name for all spirits distilled from the agave, as well as the name of a regional beverage, similar to the tequila. Technically tequila is a form of mezcal in the same way cognac is a form of brandy and is sometimes called "mezcal de tequila."

Mixto: Mixed: tequilas made with a mixture of agave sugars and other sugars. If the label doesn’t say "100% de agave," or "cien de cientos de agave," then the product is a mixto tequila.

Mosto: Must. The juices (agaumeil) and solids of the agave after the grinding stage that will be fermented to produce alcohol.


NOM: Normas Official Mexicana de calidad, the Mexican government standards. Every distillery gets a NOM identification number to show they conform to the laws and standards governing tequila production. The number identifies each distiller. Distillers may make many competing products under the same NOM identifier. All 100% agave tequilas must have a NOM identifier on the bottle.

Normas: The official norms, or standards. Frequently written in all-caps as NORMAS.

On wood: Used to identify time a tequila has spent in contact with wood.

Oro: Gold, used to describe tequila that gains its color either by aging in oaks vats (100% agave), or through the addition of caramel coloring and other additives (mixto).

Perla o concha: Pearl or conch. A bubble that remains on the surface of the tequila after serving it or stirring it. To see if it is there, close the bottle tightly. Hold it upside down, then turn it right side up: the bubbles should appear and continue to float. If the perla does not appear, the liquor is most likely a mixto.

Piña: Pineapple. The heart of the agave that contains the sugars used for the production of tequila. It is also called cabeza (head) and corazon (heart).

Plata: Silver, refers to white, or clear, unaged tequila.

Proof: A measurement of the amount of alcohol in liquor or spirits. In Canada and the United States, proof is exactly twice the percentage of alcohol.

Reposado: Rested: tequila aged at least 2 to 12 months in oak barrels The "resting" mellows and refines the tequila.

SECOFI: Mexican law enforcement age that oversees the tequila industry.

Tahona: The large stone wheel traditionally turned by donkeys or oxen. It mashes the pulp of the agave into a coarse paste and extracts the juice (aguamiel), which is diluted with water to give it the necessary consistency for fermentation.

Tail: The last parts of the distillate to come through the still, usually recycled into a subsequent distillation.

Tequila cortado: Cut tequila, generally a mixto.

Tequila de hornitos: Tequila made using the traditional oven to bake the piñas, and distilled in copper stills (alambiques).

Tequilero: A master tequila maker or tequila producer.

Tipo: Type. According to the Mexican regulations, there are four officially recognized types of tequila:

  • Silver (blanco or plata): Bottled immediately after distillation, or within 60 days. May be stored in stainless steel tanks, but never on wood.
  • Rested (reposado): Tequila aged in oak barrels for between two and 12 months before bottling.
  • Aged (añejo): Tequila stored and aged in oak barrels for more than a year before being bottled.
  • Gold (oro, suave, joven, joven abocado): Basically the same as blanco, but with coloring and flavoring ingredients added to make it look aged. Also called gold because of its coloring (usually through added caramel and sometimes oak essence)

Tuba: Tequila fresh from the still, with sweet flavor.


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