What is the worm in tequila?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

The worm in tequila is actually a larva from one of two types of moths known as maguey worms. These worms live on the agave plant, which is used to produce tequila. The larvae are called gusano and are sometimes added to bottles of mezcal, a type of tequila, giving them the name “con gusano.”

The presence of gusano in mezcal is not a common practice and is more of a tradition in certain regions of Mexico. It is believed to add a unique flavor and character to the spirit. However, it is important to note that not all bottles of mezcal contain gusano, and it is not a standard ingredient in tequila production.

The maguey worms themselves are not actually worms but rather larvae. They are typically white or cream-colored and have a soft, plump body. These larvae feed on the agave plant, specifically the piña, which is the heart of the plant used to make tequila. The larvae can grow to about an inch in length and have a distinctive appearance.

Adding gusano to mezcal is a practice that dates back many years. It is said that the tradition originated as a marketing strategy to distinguish mezcal from other spirits. The presence of the worm was seen as a sign of authenticity and quality. Over time, it became a cultural phenomenon and even gained some popularity as a novelty item.

When a bottle of mezcal contains gusano, it is often displayed at the bottom of the bottle. The worm is typically preserved in alcohol and can be consumed if desired. However, it is worth noting that eating the worm is not a necessary part of enjoying mezcal. It is purely a personal choice and some people may prefer to leave it untouched.

In terms of taste, the gusano itself does not impart a significant flavor to the mezcal. Its presence is more of a visual and textural aspect rather than a flavor enhancer. Some people claim that the worm adds a slight earthy or nutty note to the spirit, but the impact on taste is generally minimal.

The worm in tequila, specifically in mezcal, is a larva from one of two types of moths known as maguey worms. These larvae live on the agave plant and are sometimes added to bottles of mezcal as a traditional practice. The worm itself does not significantly affect the taste of the spirit, but its presence is seen as a cultural and visual aspect of certain bottles of mezcal.