As someone who has been creating home-crafted beverages for over 10 years, I’ve come to learn a lot about specific liquors. Tequila is a single type of liquor that is highly regulated, meaning it must adhere to very specific production standards. But there are many different types of tequila available in your local liquor store! In this post, we’ll take a look at different kinds of tequila that are available to you!
It may be often paired with lime wedges and salt, but this spirit is worthy of so much more than a shot glass. Tequila is a type of liquor that is steeped in tradition, uses time-honored production methods, and even has flavors that rival the finest whiskies or cognacs. Settle in to learn a whole lot more about the spirit behind beloved cocktails such as the Paloma and the Spicy Margarita.
- 🤨 what is tequila?
- ❓ tequila vs. mezcal, what’s the difference?
- 🗺️ where is tequila made?
- ⚗️ the distillation process
- 💰average cost of tequila
- 🛍️ recommended brands of tequila & mezcal
- how to store tequila
- 🔴 mezcal
- 🟠 tequila blanco (silver tequila or white tequila)
- 🟡 tequila reposado (rested tequila)
- 🟢 tequila añejo (aged tequila)
- 🔵 tequila extra añejo (extra aged tequila)
- 🟣 flavored tequila
- ⚫️ tequila cordials & liqueurs
- 🧯alcohol safety & responsible drinking
🤨 what is tequila?
🌵 made from agave. made from the blue agave plant, It is a type of mezcal, and its production involves the harvesting and roasting of the agave plant, extraction of its juice, fermentation, and distillation..
🥃 fermented & distilled. Tequila is a distilled alcoholic beverage. The spirit is fermented first to allow microorganisms to create alcohol in the mix, then it is distilled.
🇲🇽 made in Mexico. Tequila is mainly produced in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, Mexico. Most mezcal is made in Oxaca, but it doesn’t have the same strict regulations as Tequila, so some is made elsewhere in Mexico.
❓ tequila vs. mezcal, what’s the difference?
There are two main types of agave spirits: mezcal and tequila. Mezcal and tequila are sometimes confused with each other, but anyone who’s tasted both can tell you there’s a BIG difference between the two. Officially, mezcal is defined as a liquor that is distilled from the agave plant. Because of this, there’s a saying that goes around that says “all tequila is mezcal, but all mezcal is not tequila.” Perplexed?! It’s okay! Here are the quick facts:
- mezcal is all liquor made from agave plants.
- tequila is only made from blue agave, while mezcal can be made from many varieties of agave.
- mezcal is made by roasting agave piñas in underground (or in-ground) pits, while tequila is made by steaming the weber blue agave piñas in ovens.
- mezcal usually has a deep and smoky flavor, while tequila is brighter, smoother, and fruitier in flavor.
🗺️ where is tequila made?
Tequila is made in the Tequila regions of Central Mexico, which are compromised of five specific states. The largest producer of tequila is the state of Jalisco. This region's terroir, such as the volcanic soil and high altitudes, contribute to the distinctive profile of tequila. Mexican government regulations make sure that tequila can only be produced in designated regions and all producers must adhere to very strict production methods. Mezcal is less regulated than tequila, and can be made in many other Mexican states.
⚗️ the distillation process
The heart of the agave plant, or the piña, is harvested, cooked, and then the juices are extracted. Then, the juice is fermented, which turns sugars into alcohol. The liquid is then put into copper stills or stainless steel tanks and heated, allowing different compounds to vaporize and condense back into liquid form. After multiple distillations, impurities are removed, which results in a liquid known as "ordinario." Producers distill this further to create the final tequila product.
💰average cost of tequila
The cost of tequila can vary depending on factors such as the brand, type, and aging process. On average, a bottle of tequila can range from $20 to $50. Premium and tequilas are even more expensive ($80 - $100+++). If you are looking for a decent-quality tequila, expect to pay about $30 for the bottle. A nice bottle of mezcal will set you back about $40.
🛍️ recommended brands of tequila & mezcal
It seems like every week, there's another brand of celebrity-endorsed tequila or mezcal on the market. And they're always hiring really great graphic designers. 😅 While the best brand of tequila is the one YOU like, here are some popular quality brands:
- Casa Noble
- 21 Seeds
- Don Julió
- Ilegal Mezcal
- Rey Campero Mezcal
how to store tequila
Store your tequila properly to maintain the optimum taste and flavor profile. Keep the bottle sealed and store it in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations. Like other liquors, tequila and mezcal do not require refrigeration. However, storing them in a cool, dry environment will help preserve their flavor and aroma.
What it is: Like tequila, Mezcal is made from the heart of the agave plant, also called the piña, which is roasted and then fermented and distilled.
What it's distilled from: Mezcal is different than tequila because it can be made from a wider variety of agave plants, not just blue agave. The most common type of agave mezcal is made from is the espadín agave. The agave hearts are harvested, cooked in underground pits for up to 5 days, and then crushed to extract the juice for fermentation.
What it tastes like: Mezcal has a wide range of different flavors, but most notably it has a deep, smoky, and earthy flavor. It often has notes of roasted agave, wood smoke, citrus, and spices, creating a complex and robust taste experience. The flavor of mezcal is largely developed thanks to the way it is cooked, or roasted.
Popular drinks made with it: the Oaxaca Old Fashioned, the Mezcal Negroni, and a Mezcal Margarita.
🟠 tequila blanco (silver tequila or white tequila)
What it is: Tequila blanco, also known as silver or white tequila, is the purest form of tequila and one of the main types of tequila. Blanco is typically unaged tequila, meaning it is usually bottled very soon after being distilled.
What it's distilled from: Like all tequila, Blanco tequila is distilled from the fermented juice of the blue weber agave plant.
What it tastes like: Silver tequila has a clean, bold taste that showcases the raw flavors of the agave plant. Some flavor notes include hints of citrus, pepper, and grass.
Popular drinks made with it: Tequila Gimlet, Paloma, and Tequila Sunrise.
🟡 tequila reposado (rested tequila)
What it is: Reposado, or "rested" tequila, has spent between two months and a year aging in oak barrels, which gives it a golden hue and a deeper flavor profile. Sometimes, this tequila is called gold tequila, because of the golden color it gets from the aging process. Sometimes, gold tequila is a blend of blanco tequila and aged tequila, similar to an aged solera rum blend. Be mindful of gold tequila that simply has caramel coloring added, as it has not been aged at all.
What it's distilled from: Like Blanco tequila, Reposado tequila is distilled from the fermented juice of the blue agave plant.
What it tastes like: Reposado tequila has a bit more of a complex flavor than silver tequila. It has notes of caramel and wood flavors, thanks to the aging process.
Popular drinks made with it: Tequila Old Fashioned, Classic Margaritas, and Bloody Marias.
🟢 tequila añejo (aged tequila)
What it is: Añejo, or "aged" tequila, has been aged in wooden barrels from one to three years. This longer aging process gives it a darker gold color and even more complex flavor profiles, similar to other aged spirits like aged whiskey or aged rum.
What it's distilled from: As with all other tequilas, Añejo is distilled from the fermented juice of the blue agave plant.
What it tastes like: Añejo is known for having flavor notes of caramel, vanilla, chocolate, and tobacco. It can also have notes of oak, or the different barrels it was aged in.🟢
Popular drinks made with it: Usually a sipping tequila, served neat or in high-quality cocktails like the Añejo Old Fashioned.
🔵 tequila extra añejo (extra aged tequila)
What it is: The "extra-aged" or Extra Añejo tequila has been aged for at least three years. Typically, it is aged in American oak barrels, French oak barrels, or other wooden barrels.
What it's distilled from: Extra Aged tequila is distilled from the fermented juice of the blue agave plant, just like all other tequila.
What it tastes like: Extra Añejo tequila has rich, deep flavors and extra smooth finish. The extra long aging process gives it hints of deep, dark fruits, toffee, nuts, spices, and even notes of chocolate.
Popular drinks made with it: Due to its complexity and depth of flavor, Extra Añejo is typically enjoyed neat or on the rocks.
🟣 flavored tequila
What it is: Flavored tequila is tequila that has been infused with additional flavors, such as fruit, spices, or herbs. These flavors are added during the production process to enhance the taste and create unique flavor profiles.
What it tastes like: The flavor of this type of tequila depends on the infusion or added flavorings. You can also infude your own tequila! It can have a fruity taste like strawberry or watermelon, spicy notes like cinnamon or jalapeño, or even an herbaceous taste like mint or rosemary.
Popular drinks made with it: Coconut Margarita, Tequila Mojito, Tequila Mudslide
⚫️ tequila cordials & liqueurs
What it is: Tequila cordials are sweet liqueurs that are made with tequila as the base spirit. These cordials often have lower alcohol content and are known for their sweet and dessert-like flavors.
What it's distilled from: Tequila cordials are distilled from tequila, which is made from the blue agave plant. However, the production process of cordials involves additional ingredients and sweeteners to create the desired taste.
What it tastes like: Tequila cordials have a sweet and smooth taste. Popular flavors include caramel, chocolate, or vanilla. They are less strong and have a more dessert-like quality compared to traditional tequila.
Popular drinks made with it: Tequila Espresso Martinis, Tequila Cream Sodas, Tequila Coladas
🧯alcohol safety & responsible drinking
Alcohol is a highly regulated substance because of its mild-altering capabilities. Therefore, it's important to understand your own personal relationship and limitations relating to alcohol use and consumption.
- Always adhere to legal drinking ages and adhere to local alcohol laws. In the United States, the legal age for consuming alcohol is 21 years old.
- Consume alcohol in moderation. On average, that means one alcoholic beverage per hour while also consuming a glass of water per alcoholic beverage.