Tequila shots! This is the reason you are so against such a complex and rich in cultural history libation. I recently read an article about Desperados beer and how the Tequila union of Mexico want them to disassociated themselves and remove the word tequila from the bottles as there is no actual tequila in them or part of the process of making them. There a few drinks across the world that can only be called so if they come from a certain region. But in this case the issue isn’t a geographical one it is a cultural one.
So let’s do a quick history lesson and then get to the point. Tequila first produced in the 16th century way before college students started shouting shots at each other as part of peer pressure, near the location of not yet named city of Tequila. When the Spanish Conquistadors (doesn’t conquerors sound nice in Spanish?) ran out of their own branding they decided to distill the native Agave plant producing one of North Americas first distill spirits. Around 80 years later in the year 1600 Don Pedro Sánchez de Tagle, the Marquis of Altamira, began mass producing what was now known as Tequila. By 1608, the colonial governor of Nueva Galicia had begun to tax his products. Spain’s King Carlos IV granted the Cuervo family the first license to commercially make tequila. Don Francisco Javier, grandson to the founder of Sauza Tequila gained international attention for insisting that “there cannot be tequila where there are no agaves!” His efforts led to the practice that real tequila can come only from the State of Jalisco.
The harvesters of Agave are known as Jimadors, harvesting of the Agave plant is pretty much like the way of the Samurai, both our steeped in tradition, honour and skill. The Jimadors tend to be men who come from a long line of Jimadors and often they will work alongside their, father, sons and even grandfathers. The primary tool of a jimador is the Coa de jima or simply Coa, which each Jimador owns and holds very dear to them. The Coa is a flat-bladed knife at the end of a long pole that resembles a hoe. The coa is used to first remove the flower from the agave, which causes the central piña to swell. Later, the piña is harvested, using the same tool to cut off all of the external leaves of the plant, leaving only the pulpy center which is then chopped and cooked in preparation for the mezcal or tequila production.
El Jimador is in the top 10 Tequilas sold in Mexico, which has to stand for something since all tequila is made in Mexico and there’s a mind blowing number of brands out there. El Jimador comes in 3 expression that are very similar to that you would usually find amongst rums (sorry no coffee here). The most popular being the Blanco, which is a crystal clear beverage with a 40% abv. The Reposado which is golden in colour with a spicy woody taste that you would normally expect from a whisky. And finally the crown jewel of the trio the Anejo, which is aged for 12 months in American Oak barrels giving it a dark amber tone and a full bodied taste with notes of cinnamon, hazelnut and vanilla, making for a great sipping tequila.
So with all of that history and tradition in mind when you walk into a bar and see a bottle of El Jimador behind the bar don’t ask for a couple of shots (and if you do at least have it over ice and sip it), tell the bartender you’d like to have the traditional refreshing drink enjoyed by the Jimadors themselves, the Paloma. The Paloma is a tall drink made with grapefruit, soda water and tequila. So simple but so good.