American’s Favorite: Vodka … And Its Differences with Tequila
Americans’ relationship with vodka has spanned decades, but tequila is quickly becoming a staple for many when going out and in their home bars. Two vastly different spirits, it’s interesting to see more people reach for what is traditionally considered the more substantial drink. Keep reading to learn what makes these two drinks different, ranging from their ingredients to the types available.
Ingredients and Creation Process
Originating from Russia, Poland or Sweden, traditionalists will insist on vodka being made with potatoes; however, most popular vodkas today are usually derived from cereal grains like wheat, rye or barley due to the ease of growing and distilling them. After fermenting, the grain is mixed with water before being distilled, filtered and refined.
We’ve talked about the process of creating tequila here, but the cliff notes version is that tequila comes from the blue agave plant. Unlike vodka, you cannot mimic tequila’s flavor with a substitute. At 5-8 years old, the agave heart is harvested from the plant (you can only use it once) then crushed before going through the distilling process. Anything with at least 51% agave can be labeled tequila; however, 100% agave is the ideal, meaning that nothing was added to the spirit.
Vodkas can technically be made anywhere, which is why you can find extremely cheap product.
On the flipside, even the name “tequila” is owned by Mexico and the spirit can only be made in Mexico (just like champagne from Champagne, France). As you may know now, there are only five municipalities that are approved to produce tequila: Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit and Tamaulipas. Anything made from agave outside of these areas but still in Mexico is known as mezcal. Anything derived from agave and produced outside of Mexico is usually called an agave spirit.
Vodka comes in two types: flavored and neutral. Liquor aisles are full of an assortment of different flavors, ranging from strawberry shortcake to lemon to whipped cream, which makes them a preferred mixer for many people. Neutral vodkas are commonly described as “flavorless” and can be drunk stiff (with no mixers) or in cocktails where an extra flavor profile isn’t wanted (think of a vodka cranberry). Most people in the U.S. use vodka with mixers.
Tequilas come in the following five different types:
Mixto – A tequila blend that’s at least 51% tequila. Most of these tequilas are on the lower quality and used for mixed drinks like margaritas or flavored shots.
Blanco – Non-aged tequila that’s crystal clear, this is the purest form of tequila and delivers the natural flavors. When it comes from 100% agave, the flavor is always smooth.
Reposado – Lightly aged tequila, spends more than two months but less than a year in the barrel. It receives the light color from the oak barrels it’s aged in. Jasmine and vanilla flavors are commmonly reported.
Añejo – Aged for at least a year, this tequila is the ideal for sipping. Once you know what you’re looking for in a tequila, you’ll pick up robust flavor profiles. Many people compare the taste to custard with light floral and oak notes to create a mellow tequila that truly cannot be beat.
Extra Añejo – Tequila that’s been aged for at least three years is labeled extra añejo. This is the most exotic tequila you’ll find. Bottles and flavors are incredibly complex, only compared to the finest whiskeys.
We’re not trying to slam vodkas, but they really cannot top the complexity one can find within tequilas. There truly is a tequila for everyone and their needs. Luckily, añejo tequilas are becoming more popular, meaning you can find a quality sipping tequila easier than ever.
There’s no set price point on either alcohol; however, vodka is generally slightly cheaper than tequila due to the ease of making it. You can usually buy a top-shelf vodka for around $40-$50 dollars; however, a top shelf tequila can easily cost over $100 a bottle. This is due to the complexity of making tequila as well as the increase demand for agave plants.
We can’t make the vast claim that tequila is the future drink of choice for Americans; however, we can say that the tequila industry is drastically on the rise, making it the perfect time to start working on creating your own private label tequila brand.
When you create your own tequila, you are creating something that reflects your brand and values. With Aceves Spirits, you’ll be working with three maestros tequileros, who will be by your side every step of the way to designing the best tequila in the industry.
If you want to start working on your own private label tequila and get into the spirits industry, contact us today.