Retirement; like your parents, but way cooler
In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age
of 38. Now, into their 4th decade of this
financially independent lifestyle, they invite you
to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.
The Finer Pleasures
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli
Whatever it is, tequila
probably can't fix it, but it's worth a shot! - Jimmy Buffett
Siete Leguas Tequila, named for Pancho Villa’s horse
It is safe to say that most people don't know the history of Mexico's
national drink, tequila. Nor do they know that the
of Tequila is
50km northwest of Guadalajara, making it an easy daytrip from the capital of
Mexico's state of Jalisco. A popular image surrounding this beverage is one
of charros, desperados, shoot 'em ups and heavy machismo.
Who would have known that there is refinement, culture, sophistication,
passion, and Mexico's heart and history involved too?
I’m here to enlighten you to the elegance of tequila.
A short history
Archeologists say that agave has been cultivated for at least 9,000 years.
Legend has it that centuries ago, a lightning storm caused a fire in the
native agave fields. Plants exposed to the heat of this fire were roasted
and split open. Sweet juices oozed from these cooked and burst succulents
and the indigenous people found them to be agreeable to their taste. The
plant had already been used to make rope, thread for clothing, with the
prickly points being fashioned into a sort of nail for construction or used
as a needle to sew.
Now they had food, and surprisingly, a sweet drink called agua miel or
Aztecs enjoying pulque
The local indigenous people considered this sweet drink from the agave to be
a gift from the gods. After all, it was discovered after powerful light from
the heavens struck the earth causing the juices to flow. Later they learned
to make a kind of beer from the fermented agua miel, and that drink
was called pulque.
Tequila is North America's first distilled drink and its first commercially
From the Aztecs to the Conquistadores to the Mexican Revolution in the
1800’s the beverage of tequila was enjoyed, banned by the Spanish kingdom,
taxed and finally brought forward by the free nation of Mexico to regain its
Tequila names you would recognize
The first licensed manufacturer of tequila was Jose Antonio Cuervo who
received special rights in the mid 1700's from the King of Spain to
cultivate a plot of land in New Spain. His son, Jose Maria Cuervo, obtained
the first license to produce mezcal wine and founded Casa Cuervo,
the first official Mexican distillery in 1795.
Today, the largest manufacturer of tequila is
Cuervo, and their export
market is huge.
Sauza is another historic name in the tequila industry. In 1873, Don Cenobio
Sauza bought his first distillery and started making mezcal wine.
Some say he was the first to determine that the Blue Agave was the best maguey with
which to make tequila, and the other distillers followed his lead.
Sauza was the first to export tequila to the USA when, in 1873, he sold
three barrels to El Paso del Norte, The Passage to the North, or what we
know as El Paso, Texas today.
These days, Sauza owns around 300 plantations of agave and is the second
largest manufacturer of tequila.
The point is the pina
In order to be labeled “tequila” there are certain requirements to be filled
according to Mexican law.
The key distinguishing identity is that it be made from 100% agave, and
produced in only these Mexican States: Jalisco,
Some bottles will put 100% agave azul, which means it is made from agave
tequilana weber azul. In order to be sold as tequila, it must be made only from
this particular succulent, approved by government inspectors to insure
purity, and be bottled in Mexico.
If the bottle is not labeled 100% agave, they are considered “mixtos”.
Up to 49% of the alcohol can be made from other sugars such as cane sugar.
They have less taste than the agave sugars, and caramel and almond essence
can be added for both color and flavor.
generally used for Margaritas and other mixed drinks. They are not sipped
straight since their flavor is not prized.
When the spines are hacked away, the center of the agave plant looks
much like a pineapple - hence the word, pina. In olden days,
these pinas would be slow-roasted in a brick or adobe oven
for 24 to 36 hours to process the natural juices and soften the
The consistent, slow cooking temperature of about 150*F keeps the agave from
caramelizing which would add a darker color and bitter flavor.
After the pinas cooled for another 24 to 36 hours, they were crushed
by stone wheels called tahonas which could weigh up to 3 tons each.
These stone wheels were driven by mules, oxen or horses until the fibers
were pulverized and in shreds.
Traditionally, tequila was kept and transported in barrels. In the late 19th
century, Cuervo was the first distillery to put tequila into bottles, but
the barrel maker is still very much in demand even today.
Tequila is aged in white oak barrels purchased from North America or from
Types of tequila
Did you know that there are five different types of tequila?
All tequila is clear right after distillation and any subsequent color is
derived from aging in wooden barrels or from additives. Tequilas are
distilled at least twice, and some are distilled three times.
Plata (white or silver) tequila is stored less than 60 days in stainless
steel tanks, is not aged in wood, and tends to be more peppery or fiery in
flavor. Blancos and Platas have more agave nose to them than
other tequilas. Some aficionados prefer Blancos and Platas to
aged tequilas precisely because of the fire in the flavor, the unaltered
taste of the agave and the perfume in the bouquet.
Joven abocado is
also a young tequila but has coloring and flavoring ingredients such as
caramel, vanilla or almond added to them to make them looked aged. They can
also be called suave or oro (gold) and in the tequila world,
they are considered to be mixtos.
has been rested from 2 months up to 1 year in wooden tanks or barrels. This
aging process takes out the fire of tequila making the flavor smooth and
imparts a golden color. The longer the aging, the darker the coloring and
the more complex the flavor becomes. This process has made a very popular
product and accounts for over 60% of tequila sales in Mexico.
The flavor of a Reposado has less bite and is smoother. When sipped
straight, look for the “legs” of the beverage on the sides of the glass.
vintage tequila aged from 1 to 3 years in wood barrels. Sometimes the liquid
can become very dark and the distinguishable flavor of the wood makes its
presence known. To stop the aging process and the loss of tequila through
the evaporation from the barrels, tequila can be moved to stainless steel
tanks until bottling.
Extra Anejo or Maduro tequilas
are ultra-aged a minimum of 3 years in oak barrels that hold no more
than 600 liters. This allows the liquid to come in contact with the wood for
the desired flavor to be produced.
Dispelling a few myths about tequila
There are myths surrounding tequila which only adds to the confusion. For
instance, some believe bottles of tequila will have a worm in it as part of
the Mexican tradition.
There is no worm in tequila, never has been and it is not a Mexican custom
to put one in. Some bottles of mezcal will have a butterfly
caterpillar called a gusano placed in them, but generally not in the
Another myth is that tequila is made from cactus. Tequila is made from the
distilled juices of the hearts of a mature agave or maguey plant
which is related to the lily and amaryllis.
And some people think that mezcal and tequila are the same thing.
While mezcal and tequila are both derived from agave plants and have
similarities, they have very distinctive variances in their flavors and
production processes. Mezcal is commercially produced in the state of
Oaxaca, and most tequila is produced in or near the state of Jalisco.
Different Mexican states, different weather and soil, different plants.
If an alcoholic drink is made from a succulent other than the agave azul,
or if the plants are grown in areas not specified as a tequila-making region
it cannot legally bear the name tequila on the bottle.
There are 911 different domestic brands of tequila, plus 158 labels used for
How to savor the flavor of fine tequila
So, what is the best way to savor the flavor of this classic drink?
Years ago, tequila was first drunk from a bull's horn. Wider at the top
drinking edge than at the narrow point of the horn, the horn was shaved flat
on the bottom edge so it was able to sit on a flat surface without spilling
its liquid contents.
Traditionally, tequila has been sipped from a tall, narrow shot glass called
a caballito or little horse perhaps made to reflect those early days.
In Mexican bars, Reposados and Anejos are served in brandy
snifters to better appreciate the bouquet and the legs it forms on the sides
of the glass.
Tequila is best savored at room temperature, straight up.
Take a neat sip to clear the palate and breathe out. You will experience the
modified heat and smokiness of the tequila. Then take another sip and roll
it around your mouth and notice the full body. If you have a snifter, roll
the liquid around the glass and appreciate the legs on the side of the
glass, and the bouquet in the bowl.
Premium tequilas are best appreciated slowly, softly and with respect.
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About the Authors
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person – the person who prizes their
independence, values their time, and who doesn’t
want to mindlessly follow the crowd.
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About Billy & Akaisha