The 5 Different Types of Tequila
by Greg Rutkowski
Tequila is a distilled beverage of Mexican origin, made from the blue agave plant.
Many people confuse tequila for mezcal, which is very wrong. Tequila is a type of mezcal; but mezcal is not tequila. Get that right.
If you love drinking tequila, then you've definitely interacted with the tequila labels at one point or another. Expert drinkers will tell you that the label speaks volumes about the quality of your bottle of tequila. If you are not familiar with the Spanish labels, then this article will enlighten you and help you make informed purchases.
How Different is Tequila?
Tequila is different from other agave spirits since there are so much restrictions that come with it.
Tequila Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Tamaulipas and Nayarit are the only Mexican states that produce tequila.
When other agave spirits are flexible in terms of the type of agave used, tequila is only made from blue agave plant.
Since the raw material is the same, the only true distinction comes in after the extraction of the juice and the aging process. That's what brings in the difference in terms of taste, making you prefer one to another.
Tequila comes in three main types; that is blanco, reposado, and añejo. Joven and extra añejo are additional variations.
The 5 Types of Tequila
If you want tequila in its purest form, than blanco would be your surest bet. Also known as Silver, White or Plata tequila, it doesn't get to see the inside of an oak barrel, and so it boasts of the natural agave flavors. Some tequila producers choose to let it rest in steel tanks for under two months. This allows the flavors to settle before they are packed in different bottles.
Are you worried about the purity? No need. The slight delay doesn't interfere with the young fiery flavors of blanco tequila. To be sure that you're not carrying home cheap stuff, ensure your bottle is labelled "100% blue agave."
Tequila Blanco is stronger than the other tequila varieties. The strong flavor profile makes blanco better placed when bartenders weigh options for their tequila cocktails, especially the famous margarita. That boldness can also work against it at some point, making it very harsh for some palates.
Don Julio Blanco gives you a complex taste with citrusy grapefruit notes, whereas Los Azulejos Silver is extra smooth with a smoky aroma. These two are our top recommendations for anyone looking for straight tequila to sip on.
Don't be surprised if your bottle of Silver tequila is labelled as "Joven." Also known as gold, Dorado or Oro, it is one of the five types of tequila.
If you are unsure of whether you want aged or unaged tequila; settle for Joven. Gold tequila has a little bit of aged and a little bit of unaged tequila blended together.
Tequila Reposado, also known as rested or aged tequila, is that which has been aged for at least two months and at most one year, in American or French oak barrels. It falls in between Blanco and añejo in the aging spectrum.
If you are after dynamic flavorful margaritas, Reposado tequila is your best bet for the base ingredient. It ages just enough to develop a unique flavor profile while maintaining the younger notes from the agave juice. The spicy and citrus flavors just get better as the reposado tequila ages., creating complex notes of chillies, cinammon, vanilla and dry chocolate.
Tequila añejo, or extra aged tequila, is tequila that is aged for at least one year in American or European oak barrels. Depending on the producer, there could be other barrels used the blending and aging process.
Añejo tequilas can be sipped directly or used in recipes as an alternative base spirit in the place of whiskey.
That extra time makes the colors and notes more intense, giving it a richer taste. The acidic tones of the harsh young tequila are replaced with caramelized sugary tones in the añejo tequilas.
Rare extra añejo, also known as ultra aged tequila, is tequila that has been aged for at least three years.
You can check for an amber color in your tequila, as it shows that it has aged. Don't go for gold-looking tequila if you don't fancy artificial flavoring and caramel coloring.
They tend to be more expensive due to the added barrel-time.
Highland Vs. Lowland Tequila
The terroir plays a vital role in shaping the character of agave spirits. These are the environmental surroundings in the production regions.
- Produced at higher altitudes
- Has a floral aroma
- Displays a soft sweetness
- Produced in lower valley regions
- Feature a distinct earthy nature
- Has a more herbaceous character
Now that you know all about tequila, it's time to get the ingredients and glasses for your next tequila cocktail. Remember to comment below and let us know your favorite type of tequila.