Tequila 101: A Guide to the Different Types of Tequila
By Isabella Sibler
It is almost impossible to not become overwhelmed when trying to decide which tequila to purchase while at a liquor store. The shelves are stocked with dozens of different tequilas that all look and sound the same, especially to someone who does not have any knowledge of the differences between each brand and type. All tequilas are definitely not the same. Some tequilas are made to make the perfect mixed drink or margarita, while others are meant to be enjoyed on their own. Keep reading our handy guide to understanding the differences in each type of tequila so the next time you walk into the liquor store or restaurant, you know exactly what you want for that particular occasion:
Some distillers call Blanco tequila the "essence of tequila." Unlike other tequilas, Blanco tequila never goes into an oak barrel. Because of this and the lack of contact with wood, Blanco tequila provides the purest expression of the agave's natural flavors. This type of tequila is held in stainless steel, or other similar containers for less than 60 days and is usually clear in color. Since Blanco tequila is tequila's most basic form, they tend to be the least expensive, which makes them ideal for mixed drinks like margaritas.
"Reposado" translates to "restful." Reposado tequilas have been aged for at least two months and, in some instances, up to one year in oak barrels. This process allows for the tequila's flavor to mellow and takes on hits of the oak it is resting in. It also allows for the tequila to turn into a soft golden color. The tequila's natural citrus and spice flavors don't decrease, despite being aged for long periods of time, but do tend to round out as the tequila ages. This creates hints of dry chocolates, chilis, vanilla, and cinnamon. Reposado tequila is best enjoyed in premium mixed cocktails or on its own in a shot or over ice.
When you leave tequila in the barrel for longer than a Reposado, it turns into an Añejo. Añejo tequila is aged for one to three years and takes on even more characteristics of the wood because of that. The distinction between tequilas is truly proven through age. Añejo tequilas are often richer, smoother, and sweeter than their counterparts. The longer aging process ages complex oak flavors and a color that can be deep gold to a soft brown. This is a typical "sipping" tequila that is usually enjoyed on its own.
The next time you want to indulge in tequila, make sure to remember the key difference between each type to ensure that you're drinking the best tequila for the cause!