The Ultimate Guide to Reposado Tequila
by Greg Rutkowski
If you are into liquors, then tequila may not be new to you. It is a Mexican spirit distilled from the blue agave plant. Tequila is available in three major labels, namely blanco, reposado, and añejo. There are over 1,000 brands registered with the Mexican Tequila Regulatory Council. More than 30 of these brands bottle their tequila internationally. The high number of tequila brands gives you a wide range of reposado tequila flavors to pick from. In this article, we'll review the unique qualities of tequila reposado and offer you infallible tips on the best ways to drink the spirit.
What is Reposado Tequila?
After the blue agave is fermented and distilled, the end product is tequila blanco or silver. These terms are used to refer to tequila that is not rested. Distilleries usually pack these drinks immediately after distillation. However, if they age this spirit between two months and a maximum of 364 days, the resulting drink is called reposado tequila.
Tequila blanco or silver is sparkling clear. However, after resting in oak barrels for two months or even close to a year, reposado tequila develops a light golden shade. It also becomes soft and adds wood flavors to its notes. The overall flavor of the drink will depend on whether the drink was distilled from 100% agave or the maestro mezcaleros infused the liquor with other ingredients such as fruit flavors.
How Tequila Reposado is Aged
The process of aging reposado tequila starts after the distillation. New oak barrels are filled with tequila blanco and allowed to rest for at least two to twelve months. It is a common practice to use American white oak barrels for aging tequila reposado. However, it is not a must. Distilleries can use barrels such as Canadian or French oak. The reason the American oak barrels are preferred is that the wood has tyloses which make the wood waterproof and rot-resistant.
Producers can reuse the oak barrels. When bottling the final product, they mix reposado from different barrels to attain consistent quality. They are also allowed to add additives, albeit in limited quantities, to preserve the quality of the drink.
Tequila Reposado Vs Tequila Añejo: What's the Difference?
Both reposado and añejo undergo aging. The only difference is that tequila añejo is allowed to age for a longer period- usually between one and three years, but not longer than that. This is because, beyond four years, tequila loses its signature agave flavor and tastes like whiskey.
As stated earlier, reposado tequila is slightly aged and therefore softer than blanco tequila. Although it can pass for a sipping tequila, it's best used for cocktails such as margaritas. Añejo is darker and smoother than reposado, and therefore ideal for sipping. It features a rich oak flavor combines with exciting vanilla and floral notes.
Tequila Reposado Drinking Tips
One advantage of tequila is that it's a drink you can enjoy anytime, all year round. It is also a good idea to learn how Mexicans drink tequila reposado to appreciate this beverage. Let's examine various ways you have a blast drinking reposado tequila.
1. Make Sure You Are Drinking the Right Stuff
To appreciate the taste of real tequila, you must drink 100% blue agave and not a mixto. The best quality reposado tequila is made from 100% blue agave plant. This means no sugars are added to agave extract before it's fermented. Most 100% agave tequilas are bottled at the source.
Mixto on the other hand refers to tequilas that are mixed with corn or cane sugars before fermentation. The Tequila Regulatory Council allows distilleries to label their drinks as tequila as long as their fermentation extract is at least 51% blue agave juice. The agave flavor in a mixto is subtle and you can miss, especially if you have never tasted 100% agave tequila.
Unfortunately, you will never see a distillery labeling its drinks as 51% tequila. You can also not differentiate mixto from 100% blue agave tequila by comparing their shades. It is important to note that mixto tequilas are primarily meant to be used on cocktails and not to be served neat. To avoid drinking a mixto make sure that your bottle has a 100% blue agave label.
2. Sip it Neat
The best way to enjoy tequila reposado is to sip it slowly and not take shots of the drink. After resting for months in American white oak casks, reposado tequilas mellow and are suitable for sipping. You don't even need the lime and salt as they will mask the agave flavor. Just take sips of the spirit and enjoy its rich oak, vanilla, and caramel palate. If you want to use salt and lime, suck the salted wedge in between sips. You can also opt to drink your reposado tequila alongside a sangrita. Its sweet and spicy tones amplify the peppery flavor in tequila.
3. Tequila Reposado Food Pairing
You can also drink reposado tequila as you enjoy your meals, just like wine. Examples of foods you can pair with this smooth tequila include meaty tacos or empanadas, steaks, and grilled pork. Vegetables such as tomatillos and asparagus are also great with reposado tequilas. And if you love adventure, explore how other cuisines taste with his drink.
4. Enjoy Reposado Cocktails Too
You can also make exceptional cocktails with reposado tequilas such as reposado manhattan, rosemary & grapefruit margarita, and basil with reposado. The secret to great cocktails is to keep them natural, especially if you are watching your calorie intake. For example, if you love margaritas, avoid high-calorie mixers such as soda. Also, avoid adding syrups to sweeten your margarita as this adds more calories to your drink.
Best Tequila Reposado
Now that you know various ways you can enjoy tequila reposado, here are some great brands you can try out.
Clase Azul Reposado Tequila: This tequila is distilled from 100% blue agave extract and a great pick if you are shopping for a sipping tequila. It comes in a 750 ml handmade bottle and is aged for 8 months giving it rich cinnamon, caramel, and cooked agave notes. You can also use it for cocktails.
Cincoro Reposado Tequila: If you fancy vanilla notes on your tequila, then this spirit is for you. The producer rests this tequila for eight to ten months before packaging it in a 750ml bottle. The drink comes with rich agave, vanilla, and spice taste and features a fruity and caramel finish.
Siete Leguas' Reposado: The Siete Leguas' Reposado is 100% agave. It is allowed to rest for 8 months in American oak barrels which infuses intense wooden flavor to its agave notes. It also features a nice golden straw hue with a cherry fruit finish. This tequila is 40% ABV and can be served neat or with cocktails.
ArteNom 1414 Reposado Tequila: If you are looking for the best tequila for margaritas, then the ArteNom 1414 Reposado Tequila is your best bet. Its rich tropical fruit flavor and agave notes reverberate through mixer flavors, unlike most brands. Remember that it's the signature agave flavor that differentials tequila from other liquors.
Don Julio Reposado Tequila: The Don Julio renowned for premium tequilas for more than 50 years. Moreover, his tequila is 100% blue agave-based. It's no surprise that the Don Julio Reposado Tequila stands out as a great pick for tequila cocktails. This tequila is smooth and its agave notes overshadow other flavors in a cocktail.
Bonus FAQ: Is there Worm in Reposado Tequilas?
There is a common misconception that there is a worm in all tequilas. This assumption is not true. The worm is found in mezcal, which is closely related to tequila. Mezcals and tequilas are distilled from agave plant juice. However, tequila is made from 100% blue agave, which mezcals come from other agave species. It is correct to say that tequila is mezcal but not all mezcals are tequilas.
The worm, also known as gusano, is an edible larva of moths that live in maguey plants. Some people believe this worm adds potency to the mezcal drink although there is no evidence to back these claims. Nevertheless, mezcal producers use this as a marketing trick to appeal to clients who still embrace these myths. For the record, you will never find a gusano in quality tequilas.
Drink Reposado Tequila Responsibly
While there are awesome reposado tequilas out there, it is wise to remember that they are still liquors with high alcohol concentrations. It is therefore advisable to drink reposado tequila responsibly and avoid overindulgence. Unlike beers, reposado tequila can intoxicate you quickly. Taking too much of the drink in one sitting can cause alcohol poisoning.
Also, if you have a medical condition such as type 2 diabetes, tequilas can cause your blood sugar to fluctuate suddenly. Expectant and lactating mothers should avoid alcohol, including tequilas, to protect their infants from its adverse effects.
Final Thoughts On Reposado Tequila
Tequila is made from blue agave, in Mexico. It is then aged in American oak casks for two to twelve months to obtain the reposado tequila label. Within this period, the drink mellows and tastes smooth with rich agave notes infused with oak flavors. Tequila reposado differs from tequila añejo in that it's aged for a maximum of one year. On the other hand, aging añejo tequila takes between one and three years. The reposado label features a golden straw shade while añejo is darker and smoother.
The best way to enjoy a reposado tequila is to sip it neat. You can also pair it with various meals including but not limited to steaks and vegetables. When choosing a reposado tequila for your cocktails, go for a 100% agave reposado. This way, its agave notes will not be drowned by the mixer flavors. Lastly, remember tequilas are alcohols. Therefore, drink responsibly to protect yourself and your loved ones from its adverse effects.