Traditionally distilled in the Mexican state of Jalisco using the cooked hearts of the Blue Agave plant (Agave Tequilana), Tequila is one of the world's greatest and most unique spirits. Tequila can be either un-aged in the form of Blanco or spend some time in oak. Barrel-aged Tequilas are labelled based on the length of time spent maturing with Reposado being the youngest before Añejo and finally Extra Añejo. Often associated with youthful drinking sessions in shot form, there's much more sophistication in tequila than the average consumer realises.
The best quality Tequilas are 100% agave, while more value options ("mixtos") only have to be 51% agave, with the rest coming from other sugar sources. It's a labour of love to produce tequila; the spiky agave plant is hand-harvested by jimadors, which must be delicately handled before steam cooking, crushing, fermenting and distilling. Regarded as North America's oldest spirit, the Aztecs were fermenting the sap of the agave plant as early as 1000 BC, as perhaps were event an older civilisation called the Olmecs, though the term tequila only received geographic protection by Mexico in 1974.