The process of tequila begins when a blue agave plant is ripe, usually 8 to 12 years after it is planted.
Leaves are chopped away from its core by a "jimador" who assesses the plants ripeness.
Pinas are hauled to the distillery where they are cut in half or chopped and put to roast. Starches turn to sugar as the pinas are roasted in furnaces called "homos". Modern distilleries use huge steam ovens to increase output and save on energy. Roughly speaking, seven kilos (15lb.) of agave pina are needed to produce one liter (one quart U.S.) of tequila.
The roasted pinas are then shredded, their juices pressed out and placed in fermenting tanks or vats. Some distilleries use the traditional method to produce tequila. In this method Eartesian tequila Ethe cores are crushed with a stone wheel at a grinding mill called "tahona" and the fibers are dumped into the wooden vat to enhance fermentation and to provide extra flavor. One the juices are in the vats yeast is added. Every distiller keeps its own yeast as a closely guarded secret. During fermentation, the yeast acts upon the sugars of the agave plant converting them into alcohol.
Juices ferment for 30 to 48 hours then they are distilled twice in traditional copper stills or more modern ones made of stainless steel or in continuous distillation towers. The first distillation produces a low-grade alcohol and the second a fiery colorless liquid that is later blended before being bottled. Alcohol content may be between 70 and 110 Proof. At this moment the liquor is no longer mezcal but tequila.
The tequila's color comes from being aged in wood. The wood also imparts subtle flavors and aromatic overtones that enhance the character of the Tequila.