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tequila vs vodka

Tequila Vs Vodka: The Great Debate

by Shannan Reyes
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One of the greatest debates among alcohol consumers today is about tequila vs vodka. Many of them want to know why they should consume one and not the other. If you take alcohol, you may also have a few concerns about the two types of liquor.

In this article, you’ll learn the differences and similarities between tequila and vodka so that you can make an informed choice the next time you want to have a drink.

What’s Tequila?

Tequila

Tequila is a popular distilled alcoholic beverage obtained from the blue agave plant, predominantly found in the adjacent areas of the city of Tequila, northwest of Guadalajara. This plant is also found in the Jaliscan Plateaus of the central western Mexican state of Jalisco. The Tequila region is primarily endowed with red volcanic soil, which is suitable for growing blue agave.

Over 300 million blue agave plants are harvested in this region annually, making the area the main source of the tequila beverage. The development process of agave plants varies with the region. For instance, the blue agave plants grown in the plateaus of the Los Altos region are larger and sweeter in taste and flavor than those grown in other regions.

Agave plants grown in the valley regions have a more herbaceous taste and fragrance. That’s why the blue agaves grown in Tequila and its surrounding areas are considered the best plants for tequila drinks. This aspect of the city of Tequila has given it historical and cultural significance, which led to its inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 2006.

The tequila beverage is different from other similar drinks because it’s only produced from blue agave plants. Around the world, this drink is usually served neat or as a shot with lime or salt. It usually has between 35 and 55 percent alcohol content.

What’s Vodka?

Vodka

Vodka is a clear distilled beverage comprising water and ethanol. Some brands of vodka add flavorings to their beverages to make them unique. Traditionally, vodka is produced through the distillation of liquid from fermented cereals and vegetables like grains and potatoes.

Some modern vodka distillers now use honey, maple sap, or fruits as their bases. This type of liquor was first discovered in Europe in the 1700s. Today, it has become one of the most popular alcoholic beverages around the world.

Since the 1890s, standard vodka beverages have always had 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). The current European Union law requires all vodka drinks to have a minimum ABV content of 37.5 percent, while in the United States, the law sets the minimum ABV content for vodka at 40 percent. Traditionally, vodka is served neat (without mixing it with water, ice, or any other mixer). However, some restaurants are now using it in cocktails and mixed drinks.

Similarities Between Tequila and Vodka

Although tequila and vodka are produced from two different materials, they share a few similarities. For instance, both are alcoholic beverages produced through fermentation and distillation. That’s why they are commonly referred to as distilled liquids.

Furthermore, tequila and vodka beverages have alcohol content by volume of just about the same percentage. Their ABV content ranges between 37 and 40 percent. Both drinks are perfect for preparing cocktails and mixed beverages.

Differences Between Tequila and Vodka

Differences

While tequila and vodka are alcoholic beverages with almost the same alcohol content by volume, they have several glaring differences that you need to be aware of when ordering either of them at your local pub. These differences affect various aspects of the two beverages and therefore influence your drinking experience. Here are the main differences between tequila and vodka that you need to appreciate.

1. Geography-Specific

Tequila draws its name from the city of Tequila in Mexico where the blue agave plants that make the beverage are grown in plenty. While other alcoholic drinks similar to Tequila are produced in this region, Tequila has specifically produced Tequila and its environs where the blue agaves are grown. Blue agave only thrives in unspoiled desert conditions and takes eight years to mature.

The plateaus of Tequila perfectly match these conditions because the typical annual temperature in this area is 22 °C. Therefore, the area is generally dry throughout the year. Most Tequila distillation factories are located in and around the city of Tequila due to the ease of access to the blue agave plants. This makes the beverage geography-specific.

Actually, the beverage is protected by the “Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)” agreements in the regions it’s exported to. Vodka, on the other hand, is not geography-specific because it’s made from ingredients that are readily available in different parts of the world. While the beverage may have originated in Poland and Russia, it’s now produced the world over. That’s why many vodka brands exported overseas aren’t protected by the PDO agreements.

2. Flavor and Appearance

You can easily differentiate tequila from vodka through its taste and appearance. Standard vodka is an unblemished, colorless purified liquid. However, some modern vodka brands are adding impurities and flavorings to make their drinks stand out in the market. But the purest version of vodka is supposed to be colorless.

Tequila, on the other hand, comes in different shades, including rich golden colors and a clear spirit. The disparity in appearance is mainly attributed to the wide range of tequilas available. For instance, the purest type of tequila, Blanco tequila, is colorless, while other forms of tequila like Repoado, Extra Anejo, Joven, and regular Anejo have different colors.

Extra Anejo is usually aged for a longer period, giving it a richer flavor than the others. It has a rich golden shade. The taste of the various types of tequilas varies depending on the aging process, the quality of the blue agave, and the alcohol percentage. In comparison, vodka is tasteless with a slight hint of sugariness if it has rye.

Vodka acquires its taste from organoleptic elements. If it’s produced from potatoes, it tastes creamy. The flavor of pure tequila is generally earthy and slightly sweet.

3. Health Benefits and Aftereffect

In the past, people didn’t look for health benefits in liquor. All they wanted was to get high and have a good time. But with the ongoing fuss about watching your diet and staying healthy, people are concerned about the health benefits of whatever they put in their bodies. That’s why you’ll find a lot of literature about the health benefits of different types of alcoholic beverages, including tequila and vodka.

The health benefits you get from tequila depend on the type. For instance, tequilas made from 100 percent blue agave plants have very low amounts of sugar and carbohydrates. Unfortunately, most of the readily available tequilas aren’t completely pure, so their sugar levels are significantly high.

Some tequila brands advertise their beverages as diabetic-friendly, suitable for bone health, and a good add-on to weight loss diet plans. However, these benefits come from the properties of the blue agave plant, not the liquid extracted from it. Because tequila is an alcoholic drink, it can lower your blood sugar because alcohol is only processed by the liver.

So, although regular tequila drinks aren’t the healthiest beverages in the market, they have health benefits if consumed moderately. Vodka, on the other hand, is made up of ethanol and water. So, it’s very low in sugar and carbohydrates. Therefore, its healthiness or the lack of it depends on how you drink it and what you mix it with.

Highly processed and adulterated vodka brands are loaded with sugar, making them harmful to your health. The higher the amount of sugar added to an alcoholic beverage, the worst the hangover. So, tequila is likely to give you a worse hangover than vodka.

4. Number of Calories

The alcohol content by volume determines the number of calories the drink has. So, the higher the ABV percentage of an alcoholic drink, the higher the number of calories it has. Tequila, for instance, offers fewer calories compared to vodka because it has lower ABV percentages. However, this depends on how you mix your tequila or vodka and the brand you choose.

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