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Why Is There a Worm in Tequila Bottles? (2024 Best Edition)

why is there a worm in tequila bottles

Last Updated on March 29, 2024 by Lydia Martin

A floating worm inside your drink is truly disgusting. For sure, you wouldn’t want to drink it.

But have you heard about the infamous worms inside tequila bottles? You’ve probably seen it in the movies, but yes, it’s a real thing. 

How and why is there a worm in tequila bottles? Keep reading to know the answer.

Why Do Tequila Bottles Have Worms?

El Jimador Blanco

To clarify, tequila bottles don’t have worms; mezcal does.

Some people began seeing this as a purely marketing strategy. Mezcal makers used gusano moth larvae as a gimmick so that people would drink mezcal. 

The Mexican legend says you will see visions or have supernatural powers if you eat the worm. But that’s all rumors, and none of it is true.

Other manufacturers began adding worms to ride on the popularity.

Other Possible Reasons

Improves The Agave’s Taste

In theory, a mezcal maker named Jacobo Lozano Páez found out that the larvae improve agave taste when added to mezcal.

Distilling the agave plants can produce tequilas and mezcals, but there’s a difference.  

A bottle must have 51% blue agave at least to make a true tequila (agave tequilana). In comparison, mezcal can be made from a blend of one of 250 types of cactus-like succulents as considered tequila. 

With that, tequila is a kind of mezcal, but mezcal is not tequila, and only mezcal has worms.

Since worms live and feed off the blue agave plant, it is speculated that the worm changes the taste of agave in mezcals. But are mezcals stronger than tequilas?

Brings Good Fortune & Strength

Tequila Shot Glasses with worm

The tequila worm, or moth larva, is called gusano de maguey and is said to have powers.

Traditional stories have told that the insect could impact virility or bring good fortune and strength.

And according to folklore, whoever finds that gusano inside the glass bottle is lucky.

Serves As Evidence Of The Alcohol’s Potency

Tequila Bottle with worm

In a book written by Anthony Dias Blues, he claimed that maguey worms are evidence and indication of a mezcal’s potency. It is rumored to have positive proof when in contact with the worm. 

Although to do this, the spirit should have a high percentage of alcohol to pickle the gusano enough. The higher the percentage of blue agave plant used, the finer the bottle.

When Did They Start Putting Worms On Tequila?

Worms on tequilas are never found, according to Heriberto Oviedo, an expert or sommelier for tequila.

There’s confusion with mezcal and tequila. And the worm you see is in mezcal, a tequila’s sibling agave spirit [1].

However, worms on mezcal started appearing in the 1950s. From then, some other mezcal makers hopped on the trend.

Read: What’s the Cheapest Tequila For Shots?

Is The Worm Alive?

Worm in someone's mouth

No, the worm inside the bottle of tequilas isn’t alive. And to make it right, it isn’t a worm, but a moth larva found in the agave plant. It is a common misconception. 

The little larva could have been a beautiful Mariposa if they had not drowned them in the bottle. In or out of the mezcal bottle, those worms or moths are regularly eaten in Mexico.

Here are some hilarious tequila jokes

Do They Still Put Worm In The Tequila Bottle?

No, they don’t put worms in the tequila bottle but probably partnered with a tiny pack of flavored worm salt. Tequilas don’t contain the worm, and it contradicts popular belief. 

Also, the Mexican Standards Authority prohibits adding insects to the bottle of tequilas. [2]

But if you’d find one, it’s in a mezcal bottle, and they’re usually in the lowest priced merchandise in a manufacturer’s line.

Can You Eat The Worms In Tequila Bottles?

Tequila in a glass with worm

You can eat the worms in tequila (mezcal, actually) bottles. If you’re curious and up for an adventure, go for it.

Mexicans and people who have eaten the bugs say it tastes like chicken. Also, it is not crispy and crunchy but chewy in texture when you eat it.

Chefs in Mexico incorporate these into some delectable dishes. In fact, fried gusano makes a great pair for tequilas. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the purpose of worm in tequila?

The practice of placing a worm (or gusano in Spanish) in bottles of mezcal, a distilled spirit made from the agave plant, originated as a marketing gimmick rather than a traditional component of the beverage.

The worm, which is actually the larval form of a moth that infests agave plants, was added to certain bottles of mezcal in the mid-20th century as a way to differentiate the product and attract attention from consumers.

Despite common misconceptions, the presence of a worm in a bottle of mezcal does not signify higher quality or authenticity. In fact, traditional mezcal producers do not include worms in their products, and the practice is largely associated with commercial brands seeking to capitalize on novelty and curiosity.

Why don’t they put the worm in tequila anymore?

The practice of placing a worm in bottles of tequila is largely associated with mezcal rather than tequila. While both mezcal and tequila are distilled spirits made from the agave plant, they are produced using different methods and come from distinct regions of Mexico. Mezcal, particularly certain varieties produced in the state of Oaxaca, is known for occasionally featuring a worm in the bottle as a marketing ploy.

In contrast, tequila, which is primarily produced in the state of Jalisco and other designated regions, has never traditionally included a worm in the bottle. Tequila producers focus on highlighting the quality and purity of their product rather than relying on gimmicks like worms to attract consumers.

Therefore, the practice of putting a worm in tequila bottles is not common and is not considered a traditional or authentic aspect of tequila production.

Which tequila has a worm in the bottle?

As mentioned earlier, the presence of a worm in a bottle of distilled agave spirit is primarily associated with mezcal rather than tequila. Specifically, certain varieties of mezcal, particularly those produced in the state of Oaxaca, may feature a worm in the bottle as a marketing gimmick.

One well-known example is “Mezcal con Gusano,” which translates to “mezcal with worm.” This type of mezcal often includes a worm (usually a larva of the Hypopta agavis moth) in the bottle, intended to pique consumers’ curiosity and differentiate the product on store shelves.

However, it’s important to note that the presence of a worm in mezcal does not indicate higher quality or authenticity, and traditional mezcal producers typically do not include worms in their products.

What’s the difference between tequila and mezcal?

Tequila and mezcal are both distilled spirits originating from Mexico and made from the agave plant, but they have distinct differences in terms of production methods, flavor profiles, and geographical origins.

Agave Varieties: Tequila must be made from the blue agave (Agave tequilana) plant, primarily cultivated in the Jalisco region of Mexico and a few designated areas. Mezcal, on the other hand, can be made from various species of agave, including espadín, tobala, and others, and is produced in several regions throughout Mexico, with Oaxaca being the most renowned.

Production Process: The production process for tequila and mezcal differs significantly. Tequila is typically produced using the “tahona” method or the more modern “roller mill” method. After harvesting the agave plants, the hearts (piñas) are roasted, shredded, fermented, distilled, and then aged if desired. Mezcal production often involves a more traditional approach, where the piñas are roasted in underground pits lined with volcanic rock, imparting a smoky flavor to the spirit. Mezcal is then fermented in wooden vats, distilled in clay or copper pots, and may or may not be aged.

Flavor Profile: Tequila and mezcal have distinct flavor profiles due to differences in production methods and agave varieties. Tequila tends to have a smoother, sweeter taste with notes of citrus and earthiness. Mezcal, on the other hand, often has a more complex and robust flavor, with smoky, vegetal, and sometimes spicy notes, attributed to the roasting process and various agave species used.

Geographical Origins: Tequila is primarily produced in the Jalisco region of Mexico, as well as designated areas in a few other states. Mezcal production is more widespread, with the majority of mezcal originating from Oaxaca, although it is also produced in several other Mexican states.

Did Jose Cuervo ever have a worm in it?

Jose Cuervo is a well-known tequila brand, and it has never traditionally included a worm in its bottles. The practice of placing a worm (or gusano) in bottles of mezcal originated as a marketing gimmick rather than a traditional aspect of tequila production.

While certain brands of mezcal, particularly those from Oaxaca, may feature a worm in the bottle, this is not the case for tequila, including Jose Cuervo.

What does the worm in alcohol do?

The presence of a worm in certain bottles of mezcal is primarily a marketing ploy rather than a functional aspect of the beverage. The worm, which is actually the larval form of a moth that infests agave plants, was added to bottles of mezcal in the mid-20th century as a way to differentiate the product and attract attention from consumers.

However, the worm does not significantly alter the flavor or characteristics of the mezcal itself.

Consumers may mistakenly believe that the worm imparts hallucinogenic properties or enhances the alcohol’s effects, but this is a myth. In reality, the worm serves primarily as a novelty or curiosity factor and does not have any significant impact on the mezcal’s taste or effects.

Traditional mezcal producers typically do not include worms in their products, and the practice is largely associated with commercial brands seeking to capitalize on novelty and marketing opportunities.

Is it bad to eat the worm in tequila?

The inclusion of the worm in certain bottles of mezcal has sparked curiosity and intrigue among drinkers worldwide. While its origins are somewhat murky, it’s widely believed that the practice began as a marketing tactic to distinguish certain brands of mezcal from others and attract attention from consumers.

Over time, the worm became associated with mystique and folklore, with various legends and myths surrounding its significance. Some believe that consuming the worm brings good luck or wards off evil spirits, while others see it as a test of bravery or a symbol of authenticity.

In Mexican culture, mezcal holds a special place as a traditional and artisanal spirit deeply rooted in history. It’s often consumed during celebrations, festivals, and rituals, where the presence of the worm may add an extra layer of symbolism and tradition.

While the worm itself doesn’t contribute much to the flavor or experience of drinking mezcal, its presence has become an iconic symbol of the spirit’s cultural heritage. For many, encountering a bottle of mezcal with a worm is a memorable and unique experience, evoking images of Mexican folklore and tradition.

Whether you choose to eat the worm or not, the act of drinking mezcal can be a journey of exploration and discovery, connecting you to centuries of tradition and craftsmanship. So, next time you encounter a bottle of mezcal with a worm, consider embracing the cultural significance behind this iconic symbol and savoring the rich tapestry of Mexican heritage it represents.

Can you drink the worm in tequila?

As previously mentioned, tequila traditionally does not include a worm in the bottle. The practice of including a worm is more commonly associated with certain varieties of mezcal. However, if a bottle of mezcal containing a worm is consumed, the worm can be consumed along with the liquid if desired.

Similar to mezcal, consuming the worm in tequila poses no health risks, as it is preserved in alcohol. However, the worm does not significantly impact the taste or quality of the tequila and is primarily included as a novelty or marketing tactic.

What happens when you eat the worm in mezcal?

When you eat the worm in mezcal, you’ll likely find that it’s relatively tasteless. Contrary to popular belief, consuming the worm won’t produce any hallucinogenic effects or enhance the alcohol’s potency. The worm is simply a novelty or a cultural tradition associated with certain varieties of mezcal.

Eating the worm is more of a personal choice or cultural practice rather than a culinary experience. Some people might do it for fun or as a dare, while others might see it as part of the overall enjoyment of drinking mezcal. Ultimately, whether you eat the worm or not is entirely up to you and won’t significantly impact your mezcal-drinking experience.

In summary, while the practice of including a worm in mezcal bottles is associated with certain cultural traditions and marketing tactics, it’s not something commonly found in tequila. However, if you do come across a bottle of mezcal with a worm and choose to consume it, rest assured that it’s safe to do so and won’t have any significant impact on your drinking experience.

When did they stop putting the worm in tequila?

The intriguing tradition of placing a worm, or “gusano” in Spanish, in bottles of mezcal has a storied history deeply rooted in Mexican culture. While pinpointing an exact date for when this practice ceased is challenging, it gained widespread popularity around the mid-20th century. At that time, it served as a clever marketing ploy aimed at setting certain mezcal brands apart from their competitors. Notably, this distinctive feature was never a part of tequila production traditions.

Over the years, changing consumer tastes and evolving perceptions have influenced producers to gradually phase out the inclusion of the worm in mezcal bottles. Nowadays, it’s become less common as distilleries shift their focus towards highlighting the craftsmanship and quality of their spirits through other means. The worm’s presence, however, continues to be associated with nostalgia and tradition, evoking memories of bygone eras in the rich tapestry of Mexican spirit production.

What alcohol has a scorpion in it?

Similar to the tradition of including a worm in certain bottles of mezcal, some varieties of mezcal and other spirits may occasionally feature an unexpected guest: a scorpion. This peculiar addition, often serving as a conversation starter or novelty, can be found in select bottles of mezcal. However, it’s essential to note that scorpions in alcohol are primarily a gimmick rather than a widespread practice.

Scorpion-infused mezcal, for instance, adds an adventurous twist to the drinking experience, enticing consumers with the allure of daring and exoticism. Despite their eye-catching appearance, these scorpions are typically preserved in alcohol and pose no harm to those who consume them.

Yet, much like the worm, consuming the scorpion is entirely optional and more of a novelty than a culinary delight. As such, their presence adds an element of intrigue to the spirit, catering to those seeking an unconventional drinking experience.

So, Why Is There a Worm in Tequila Bottles?

Since we’re busting myths, there’s no worm in the bottom of tequila bottles, but most probably in mezcal bottles. And the larva found in mezcals will not give you any superpowers. 

And if you start seeing things after drinking and eating a mezcal worm, it’s probably the alcohol spirit in the drink that kicked in, not the worm.

References:

  1. The Worm in Tequila Bottles, Explained
  2. The Real Story Behind The Tequila Worm
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