A Beginner’s Guide to the Different Types of Tequila
March 14, 2023 by Anna-Bet Stemmet
Newbie tequila enthusiasts, assemble – it’s time to get to grips with the different types of tequila! You may already know that the kicky clear liquor is made from the blue agave plant. popular in Mexico and often served as a shot with lime and salt. But did you also know that there are five distinct kinds of tequila? Let’s get you educated, friend.
What are the main 5 types of tequila?
According to the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT), there are five different types of tequila. This includes blanco, joven, reposado, añejo, and extra añejo.
1. Blanco tequila (silver)
Blanco tequila is a type of tequila that has not been aged in oak barrels and is bottled immediately after distillation. It is known for its clear colour and strong, pure taste of blue agave. As the most commonly used tequila in Mexico, blanco tequila is often enjoyed neat or mixed into popular cocktails such as Margaritas or Palomas. Due to its lack of ageing, blanco tequila is considered by many to be the purest expression of the agave flavour in tequila.
2. Joven tequila (gold)
Joven tequila, also referred to as gold or young tequila, is a blend of unaged blanco tequila and aged reposado or añejo tequila. The unique blending process gives joven tequila a distinct flavour profile, often described as having the smoothness of aged tequila and the freshness of blanco tequila.
The golden colour of joven tequila is achieved by adding caramel or other colourings to the blend. Joven tequila is a popular choice for cocktails and is often less expensive than aged tequilas due to the blending process.
3. Reposado tequila (aged)
Reposado tequila is a type of tequila that has been aged in oak barrels for at least two months, but no longer than a year. This ageing process gives it a slightly golden hue and a smooth, mellow flavour with notes of vanilla and caramel, while still retaining the unique taste of agave. The name “reposado” translates to “rested” in English, which refers to the time the tequila spends resting in oak barrels.
Reposado tequila is a popular choice to enjoy neat or on the rocks, but it can also be used as a base for cocktails. This type of tequila is often considered a mid-range option. The taste is deeper than a blanco tequila, but not as intense as añejo, which is ages for longer.
4. Añejo tequila (extra-aged)
Añejo tequila is aged in oak barrels for anything between one to three years. This extended ageing process gives it a rich, amber colour and an interesting flavour profile that combines the taste of the agave plant with notes of vanilla, caramel, and spice. For instance, Espelòn Añejo is aged at least 11 months in American oak barrels, and then poured over into barrels that used to house Wild Turkey Bourbon. This creates a multifaceted spirit with an exceptionally unique taste.
The name “añejo” is derived from the Spanish word for “aged,” which refers to the time the tequila matures for in oak barrels. This type of tequila comes at a higher price point than its blanco and reposado counterparts due to the long aging process and the resulting depth of flavour. Its rich amber hue and smooth taste make it a popular choice among tequila enthusiasts who appreciate the nuances of aged spirits.
5. Extra añejo tequila (ultra-aged)
Extra añejo tequila is a premium type of tequila that has been aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years but can be aged for up to several decades. This lengthy ageing process imparts a dark mahogany colour to the tequila, along with a rich and intricate flavour profile that combines the unique taste of the agave plant with notes of chocolate, tobacco, and dried fruit. The name “extra añejo” means “extra aged” in Spanish, reflecting the extended ageing process.
Extra añejo tequila is widely regarded as the highest quality and most expensive type of tequila, due to the extensive ageing process that allows for the development of rich and intricate flavours. This premium tequila is often sipped and savoured neat, as its depth of flavour and smoothness positions it a sipping tequila that is best appreciated on its own.
What’s the difference between tequila and mezcal?
Tequila and mezcal are both distilled spirits made from the agave plant, but there are several key differences. Tequila can only be made from blue agave and must be produced in certain regions of Mexico, while mezcal can be made from a variety of agave plants and can be produced in different regions.
Mezcal is typically made using a traditional production method that involves roasting the agave plants in underground pits, giving it a smokier flavour than tequila. Tequila is typically made using a modern production method that involves steaming the agave plants in industrial ovens. As such, mezcal is often considered to be a more artisanal, small-batch product, while tequila is more regularly available.
Learn more here: What’s the Difference Between Mezcal and Tequila?
10 Popular tequila cocktail recipes
Now that you know your añejos from your extra añejos, it’s time to put all this new-found knowledge to good use. Time to get mixing and shaking, friends. Here are 10 tequila cocktails that are tailor-made for a fiesta.
1. Lime Margarita
The classic Lime Margarita features the perfect balance of sweet and sour flavours, with fresh lime juice, tequila, and a touch of sweetness from simple syrup. Garnished with a salt rim, this drink is perfect for sipping on a warm day or enjoying with friends at happy hour. One sip and you’ll be transported to a seaside paradise.
If you’re looking for a bright and bubbly cocktail, the Paloma is a perfect choice. Made with tequila, fresh grapefruit and lime juice, agave syrup and soda water, this drink is a refreshing twist on the classic margarita. Garnished with a wedge of grapefruit, the Paloma has a sweet and sour flavour that is both tangy and refreshing.
3. Tequila Sunrise
Experience the perfect blend of sweet and tangy in the classic Tequila Sunrise cocktail. With its vibrant layers of tequila, orange juice, and grenadine, this refreshing drink is sure to brighten up any occasion. Garnished with a slice of orange, it’s the perfect drink for warmer months.
4. Bloody Maria
A spicy twist on the classic Bloody Mary, the Bloody Maria features tequila as the star ingredient instead of vodka. This drink packs a punch with its savoury tomato juice, fiery hot sauce, and zesty lime juice. Garnished with a celery stalk and lime wedge, it is perfect for brunch or any time you need a little pick-me-up.
5. Tequila Sour
Get ready to pucker up with the Tequila Sour cocktail! Made with tequila, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup, this drink is as easy to make as it is to enjoy. Garnished with a lemon wedge, the Tequila Sour is a refreshing and citrusy drink that is perfect for sipping on a warm day.
6. Texas Ranch Water
Made with tequila, sparkling water, and fresh lime juice, the iconic Texas Ranch Water cocktail is a refreshing, thirst-quenching twist on a classic tequila cocktail. Serve it over ice with a lime wedge and indulge in an effervescent drink that always hits the spot.
7. Mexican Candy Shot
This tempting cocktail is inspired by a hard Mexican candy that’s watermelon flavoured and dusted in chilli. It’s a sweet and spicy shot guaranteed to delight your tastebuds. Made with tequila and vibrant fruity flavours, our Mexican Candy Shot recipe is one of the very best you’ll ever try and sure to get you and your party guests dancing for joy.
8. Mexican Martini
Get ready to indulge in the perfect combination of tangy and savoury with the Mexican Martini cocktail. Made with tequila, Grand Marnier, fresh lime juice, Cinzano Vermouth Bianco, and a splash of olive juice, this drink walks a fine, and rather delicious, line between a Dirty Martini and a classic Margarita. Served with a salt rim and garnished with a green olive, it’s sophisticated and fun all at once.
9. Mexican Hot Chocolate
When the weather turns cooler and you’re in the mood for something cosy to wrap your hands around, a Mexican Hot Chocolate is where it’s at. Whip up this warm winter cocktail of intensely rich and warmly spiced tequila hot chocolate that celebrates the warming flavours of cacao, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
10. Mexican Mule
One of the most popular summertime tequila cocktails around the globe is definitely the Mexican Mule which is made with tequila, zesty lime, and bubbly ginger beer. There’s a lot to love about this epic drink, including the fact that it’s a beginner-friendly cocktail that can be poured without any fuss at all.