Tequila is actually one of the smoothest spirits out there. That salt and lime stuff you used to shot at the clubs of youth, isn't real Tequila. Technically, its an incredibly cheap low-grade grain spirit that has a tiny percentage of un-aged Tequila in it. That harshness? Basically a nasty vodka. So where has real Tequila been hiding, you ask? Well... because the awful stuff is cheaper, Britain's nightlife and pub scenes don't usually stock the proper Tequila's you should be trying.
IT HAS WORMS
A lot of people don't know the difference between Tequila and Mezcal - and usually associate Mezcal with containing a tiny worm in the bottle. Much like those scorpion vodkas... this is a gimmick. The worm makes no difference to the taste, and certainly isn't part of the Tequila & Mezcal culture. If it contains a worm, it's usually going to taste pretty bad, because marketing techniques like these don't really care for quality.
"Tequila gives me a headache!" - we know, how many times have you heard that, right? Yet adding to many other alcohol myths, people claim Tequila gives them headaches... the truth is, drinking too much of anything will give you a headache. Contrary to popular belief, it's actually more probable that those sugary mixers are giving you a headache - not necessarily the spirits.
So, put the mixer down.
Only true Tequila's are allowed to display "100% de Agave" on their bottles. This certifies that they are made from 100% Blue Agave, in the Jalisco region of Mexico. For the most part, this is the foundation of what makes a great, proper Tequila. If you're looking for a real Tequila that you can sip until sunset and beyond, then accept nothing less. Some Tequila's will even look very authentic, such as Jose Cuervo Especial - who's bottle notes: "Made with Blue Agave". Don't be fooled by this either, however - this is called a Mixtos. Whereby proper Tequila has been sweetened and coloured.
SILVER & GOLD
Most people will know of the generic two Tequila types - Silver and Gold. But actually, there are three. Blanco (or silver) is unaged Tequila - it hasn't touched a barrel. Blanco's are sometimes great sippers, but they're usually best in cocktails. Reposado (or gold) means Rested - the Tequila takens on a golden colour, having been rested in oak barrels for a matter of months. Anejo means aged - much like fine single malt whiskies, Anejo Tequila's take on a dark brown colour and become incredibly smooth and full-flavoured from being aged in oak barrels for a number of years.
MEZCAL / AGAVA
There are two other types of Tequila. Tequila after all, is just a type of spirit made from Agave - with its own definitions (must be made in Jalisco, from Blue Agave, etc). Tequila's qualifications are similar to that of Champagne or Cognac. So what about Tequila that isn't made from just Blue Agave? Well, thats called Mezcal. Mezcal, although still made in Mexico, can be made from any variant of Agave. This mixture usually gives Mezcal a more smokey taste. Outside of Mexico, South Africa can also grow Agave. Over there, it's called Agava - lacking any and all qualification of Tequila.