Tequila is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world today mainly because it’s considered to be more appealing and cooler than other alcoholic drinks, especially distilled spirits. Unlike Vodka and other similar beverages, tequila invokes images of youthful intemperance and cheerfulness.
But even with its global popularity, there’s still a level of doubt about tequila’s healthiness, with some people asking questions like how many calories are in a tequila shot. That’s why we’ve prepared this article to help put these concerns to rest once and for all.
Tequila is a distilled spirit produced from the blue agave plant that only grows in certain regions in Mexico. This alcoholic drink derives its name from the city of tequila in Mexico. The city is situated in the state of Jalisco about 60 km from the city of Guadalajara. The blue agave plant is native to this region, making it the leading source of tequila drinks.
The core of the blue agave plant, which only thrives in desert conditions, contains sugars. That’s why it was traditionally used by natives to make fermented drinks. The arrival of Spanish people in the region saw the emergence of alcoholic drinks distilled from fermented brew.
This distillation gave birth to the tequila drink that we enjoy today. The drink suddenly became so popular around the world that the city of Tequila and its environs were included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In 2003, the Mexican federal government named the city a “Pueblo Magico” (magical town).
The city hosts many distillation factories most of which specialize in producing tequila. Its coat of arms, which was officially adopted in 1983, contains several unique symbols, including that of the tower of the main church in the city, a chimney of a distillery, the blue agave plant, and the Tequila Mountain. Tequila brands exported outside the country are protected by the “Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)” agreements.
PDO agreements are granted by international law to regional products that are exclusive to a given region, on the condition that their quality or other features are fundamentally attributable to that particular geographical environment. There are different types and styles of tequila in the market today, including blanco, reposado, añejo, and extra- añejo. The Mexican federal government has established specific tequila distillation regulations that every distiller in the country must adhere to.
For instance, in the 1970s, the tequila industry in Mexico established globally recognized Appellation of Origin standards that regulate how and where tequila is produced, styled, and labeled. Under these regulations, tequila can only be produced, bottled, and inspected in certain cities within five Mexican states: Guanajuato, Jalisco, Tamaulipas, Michoacan, and Nayarit.
These regulations also stipulate that all styles of tequila must contain a minimum of 51 percent fermentable sugars from the agave plant. The purest tequila uses the blue agave plant and doesn’t contain any additives. So, it’s marked 100 percent de agave on the label. The other types of tequila are made from other species of agave and may contain approved mellowing additives like caramel color, oak extract, sugar syrup, and glycerin.
How Is Tequila Made?
As noted above, tequila is made through the distillation of fermented juices extracted from blue agave plants. The plant belongs to the lily family, and almost resembles a huge aloe vera plant with spiky barbs on the tips. This plant takes about 8 to 10 years to mature.
Underground, this plant develops a huge bulb known as piña, which looks like a huge white pineapple. This bulb is dug up, washed thoroughly, skinned, and baked in steam or brick ovens to turn the starch in it into sugar. The bulb is then grounded and squeezed to extract its sweet juice. This extract is fermented with yeast to turn the sugar into alcohol.
The fermented extract is then distilled twice using pots or column stills. It’s double-refined to give it a high-alcohol concentrate commonly referred to as tequila ordinario. The distilled spirit can be aged briefly in tanks or barrels, depending on the style of tequila being produced.
Some tequila brands filter or blend their drinks before bottling them for a more unique flavor and texture. Before the aged distillate is put in bottles, it’s cut with water to acquire the required bottling strength. In Europe, a bottle of tequila should have a minimum of 37.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), while in the United States, the minimum ABV content for each bottle of tequila is 40 percent.
Nutrition Facts about Tequila
One shot of tequila means a single serving, which is also referred to as a jigger. It contains approximately 1.5 ounces or 42 grams of alcohol. Since the purest tequila is a distilled spirit with no additives, it doesn’t have naturally occurring sugars. However, the adulterated types of tequila contain additives that may have naturally occurring sugars.
While the natural agave bulb comprises starch, the sugar is converted into alcohol during fermentation. Therefore, pure tequila doesn’t have carbohydrates. However, if you mix it with other drinks or make cocktails with it, the other drinks may contain large amounts of sugar and carbs.
For instance, 225 grams of a frozen margarita contain 36 grams of carbohydrates, while 225g of a tequila sunrise contain30g of carbs. So, if you don’t want to increase your blood sugar, drink your pure tequila neat (without mixing it with anything else). But if you must mix it with other drinks, make sure they don’t have naturally occurring sugars.
Please note that although tequila may have traces of certain minerals, they don’t offer any significant micronutrients no matter how much tequila you consume. Also, tequila doesn’t contain protein, vitamins, or fats.
How Many Calories Are In a Shot of Tequila?
While tequila doesn’t contain carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, or fats, it contains a significant amount of calories. When the starch and sugars in the agave bulb are fermented, they’re converted into alcohol, which is full of calories. A gram of alcohol gives you 7 calories.
In the USA, a bottle of tequila contains 40 percent alcohol content by volume (80 proof). This translates to 14 grams of alcohol. This means that a standard bottle of tequila will provide you with 98 calories.
Some tequila brands contain higher percentages of ABV, meaning that they have higher calorie counts. A regular-sized bottle of tequila (750mL) contains about 16 shots. A normal shot of tequila is about 44 mL (1.5 fluid ounces).
A shot of tequila contains 1.5 ounces of alcohol, which is about 42 grams. Since a gram of alcohol offers you 7 calories, and a single serving of tequila contains 42g of alcohol, it’s safe to conclude that a shot of tequila will give you 294 calories.
Therefore, if you want to lose weight by burning more calories, you shouldn’t take more than one shot of tequila per day.
While drinking tequila can offer you several health benefits like improved bone health, reduced risk of diabetes, improved heart health, and stress reduction, there are numerous drawbacks when you drink too much.
Therefore, you should always consider the number of calories you’re likely to get when you include tequila in your daily diet.