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Five Types of Tequila

Many people who drink tequila aren’t aware that there are actually five different types of tequila, nor are they aware of the taste differences in the different types of tequila. If you’re curious about what the five different types of tequila truly are, as well as how each one tastes, you’ve come to the right place as I’m going to walk you through each type of tequila and share not only the facts, but my personal tasting notes and advice on how to use each type of tequila.

It’s also worth mentioning that some types of tequila for margaritas are not necessarily as good when sipped neat. Here, you can learn the difference.

For some, tequila is just something they drink when they order a mixed drink. This may be fine for the casual drinker, but for those who take their tequila seriously, not knowing exactly what they are drinking simply won’t suffice. The question is, how do you know exactly what you are drinking and which type of tequila tastes best in certain drinks? This question is especially important if you are relatively new to drinking tequila. By the same token, the subject takes on a whole new level of importance if you’ve never really made mixed drinks on your own.

Why does the type of tequila you use matter so much? It all comes down to how it tastes. Therefore, you will base the type of tequila you purchase on how you want to drink it. For example, do you plan to drink your tequila neat (with nothing added) or do you want to mix it with other ingredients to make margaritas? If you have never tasted the difference between the five types of tequila before, you might be surprised just how different they can taste.

Where Does Tequila Come From?

All tequila comes from Mexico. More specifically, it comes from the blue agave plant that grows there. This plant can be found throughout Jalisco. In addition, there are certain areas in Tamaulipas, Nayarit, Michoacan and Guanajuato where the plant can be found. If you are drinking tequila, you can bet that it comes from one of these areas. This makes tequila a true hallmark of Mexico, one that is well celebrated all over the world.

Now that you are aware that there are many different types of tequila, it’s time to get down to the business of talking about each one more in-depth. You already know from what you have read that there are major taste differences in the different types of tequila, but do you know how to identify each of the five different types by taste and appearance alone? By the time you are finished reading this article, you will be able to do both. Furthermore, you will learn how each type of tequila should be enjoyed and why some types should only be used for mixed drinks. You will even gain insight into the aging process as well as which type of tequila is most expensive.

Below are the five types of tequila, beginning with the most aged tequila, and perhaps the most trending type, Tequila Extra Anejo, and ending with one of the foundations of the spirit, Tequila Blanco.

Tequila Extra Anejo

For me, there is no better tequila for sipping than an extra anejo!

This particular type of tequila has only been available since 2006, easily making it the newest type of tequila in existence. It was then that the Mexican government decided to recognize it as its own variant and since that time, it has become widely popular. It is essentially the same as Tequila Anejo, but it is aged for a far longer amount of time. In fact, it is always aged for more than three years in a barrel that cannot exceed 600 liters. This is something that is carefully regulated by the Mexican government in order to ensure both quality and taste.

extra anejo tequilas

Tequila Extra Anejo is dark in color, often taking on an appearance that looks similar to mahogany wood. Because of the fact that it is aged for such a long period of time, it also has a very strong alcohol content. As such, it must be diluted with water. It’s important to note that this should not be confused with cheaper types of tequila that have caramel coloring added. This extra coloring can make the cheaper bottles of tequila look very similar to Tequila Extra Anejo, yet the taste is much different. That is because the cheaper versions often contain artificial flavoring as opposed to the extra aging that is the standard for Tequila Extra Anejo.

In reality, Tequila Extra Anejo is the smoothest type of tequila in existence. This makes it a very good fit for sipping neat. (Hint, if you visit this page and scroll to the bottom you’ll see my recommended tequila sipping glasses.)

Because of the extra work that goes into producing it as well as the flavor, it’s also the most expensive type of tequila that you can buy. That said, it is proven to be well worth the purchase price, especially for tequila aficionados who want high-quality drinks that don’t have to be mixed with something else in order to be enjoyed. Therefore, if you plan on enjoying your tequila neat, this is a good option that is available to you.

Tequila Anejo

Always high quality and great neat or with one ice cube.

Remember, Tequila Anejo and Tequila Extra Anejo essentially begin as the same product. The difference is in the amount of time that each type of tequila is aged. In this particular case, Tequila Anejo is aged for at least one year. However, it is not ever aged three years or more like its smoother, more expensive counterpart. However, it does share another similarity with Tequila Extra Anejo. It is stored and aged in barrels that cannot be more than 600 liters. Again, this is something that is carefully regulated by the Mexican government.

anejo tequilas

As far as the types of barrels are concerned, Tequila Anejo is typically aged in either European or American Oak barrels. However, there are some distillers that use other types of barrels in order to get a product that has a slightly different flavor. In any case, the end result is a product that can be sipped neat. In fact, it’s rather popular for sipping because of its smooth, rich and complex flavor. Tequila Anejo is relatively dark in color, but not quite as dark as its counterpart that is aged for a longer period of time.

It is important to note that this particular type of tequila can also be used in certain recipes that pair well with brown spirits. For example, it can be used in virtually any type of recipe that calls for whiskey, bourbon or cognac. This gives it a certain level of flexibility because it can be used in recipes, sipped neat or mixed with other ingredients for mixed drinks. It should be noted that the latter is done more frequently with other types of tequila. That said, if you’re looking for a good quality tequila that can be used for many different things, this may be the one you want to choose.

Tequila Reposado

Reposado translated from Spanish means “rested” and that’s a nod to how the maturation process evolves while the tequila “relaxes” inside a barrel.  When this happens, the tequila takes on a bit of the flavor from the wood as it turns into amber color.   Reposado tequilas are widely used in craft cocktails such as the Tequila Sunrise.  

reposado tequilas

You might choose to think of this particular type of tequila as a middle-of-the-road version between the most expensive version and the least expensive. Typically, this type of tequila is distilled and then aged for a minimum of two months. However, the Mexican government dictates that it must be aged less than one year. Otherwise it has to be classified as Tequila Anejo. You might not think that the government would take so much interest in the amount of time that a particular type of tequila has been aged. However, that is not the case. In fact, they take a great deal of pride when it comes to what they consider their national Spirit and as such, they make sure that everything is regulated to the letter and labeled as such.

Tequila Reposado is aged in either French Oak or White Oak barrels, with very little variation between the two. In addition, the taste can vary quite a lot depending on the company that has distilled and aged it. This is largely because each company can choose barrels that had previously been used to age other types of Spirits. As a result, the tannins and resins left in the barrels go a long way toward helping to develop the taste of this particular type of tequila. In the end, the flavor depends on exactly what type of spirit was previously aged in that particular barrel. Therefore, the tequila’s flavor will vary depending on whether the spirit that was housed previously was whiskey, cognac, wine or bourbon.

As far as flavor is concerned, this type of tequila is perfect for mixing margaritas, especially for those individuals that like their margaritas to have a bit of a kick. That’s because it has a relatively strong flavor. It isn’t quite clean enough to sip neat, yet it still has much of its base flavor. This makes it one of the best types of tequila for margaritas, especially for individuals who want to taste the tequila while simultaneously enjoying a nice mixed drink. If you like your drinks to taste bold, this could be the ideal choice for you. On the other hand, you may want to choose something else if you don’t want your drink to have such a bold flavor.

Tequila Joven

Just as Tequila Extra Anejo is a stronger, bolder version of Tequila Anejo, so too is Tequila Joven. In reality, it is essentially Tequila Blanco, with a few touches added in to make it a bit bolder. It’s made by mixing Tequila Blanco with very small amounts of aged tequila of any variety. This is essentially how it got its name, as “joven” is the Spanish word for young. It literally means that the tequila has not been aged. However, it cannot be considered Tequila Blanco when even the smallest amount of aged tequila has been mixed with it.

This particular variety is typically gold in color. However, it might also be light brown. The color will vary depending on the type of aged tequila that has been mixed with it and exactly how much was used. It’s important to note that this particular type of tequila also incorporates a number of specific agents used to flavor the drink, namely caramel, extract from the oak tree, glycerin and sugar. Therefore, it has a tendency to taste a little less like Spirits, as the boldness of it is typically replaced by a sweeter flavor. When mixed with something else, the taste of the tequila often gets lost with the other ingredients. If you enjoy mixed drinks but you don’t particularly enjoy the taste of strong Spirits, this may be exactly what you’re looking for. That said, this particular version is not typically considered appropriate for sipping neat. As such, it is a popular choice for use in margaritas. It’s also a less expensive version of tequila, especially when compared to some of the more expensive types such as Tequila Extra Anejo.

Tequila Blanco

If Tequila Extra Anejo is at one end of the spectrum, Tequila Blanco is at the other end. However, that in no way means that one is superior to the other. It really comes down to your particular tastes and desires. In fact, Tequila Blanco is considered one of the purest and most unique forms of tequila made.

blanco tequilas

It is derived from blue Weber agave, a particular form of the blue agave plant that was discussed at the beginning of this article. This particular version of the plant makes this tequila one of the more sought-after versions. It typically has a very pure flavor and a color to match. As such, it is sometimes called silver tequila. In some cases, you may run across someone who calls it plata tequila. In this particular case, it’s important to know that the terms are used interchangeably and don’t necessarily refer to a difference in the way the tequila was made.

This particular tequila is immensely popular, largely because it has no additives or fillers. As previously mentioned, this results in a pure flavor. It also has a somewhat sweet taste. Many people consider it to be the purest form of tequila because it really isn’t aged at all. Some distillers choose to distill and bottle it immediately while others allow it to sit for just a few weeks. In any case, it’s hardly ever allowed to sit for more than a matter of weeks. That makes it the most popular option for margaritas and it’s probably the best option for you if you prefer your mixed drinks to taste sweet as opposed to the tart or strong flavor that some Spirits can have.

This particular tequila is always labeled the same way. If you’re looking for Tequila Blanco, look for a bottle that says “100% Blue Agave” on it. That’s when you will know that you have genuine Tequila Blanco. In reality, anything else that is labeled as such is nothing but an imposter. If you really want the purest tequila you can get, you can’t do any better than this.

Is One Type of Tequila Better Than Another?

Many people have their opinions when it comes to deciding which type of tequila is best. Sometimes those opinions can be strong. In truth, one may not necessarily be better than the other. This is largely because everyone has their own idea of the ideal drink. As previously mentioned, much of your opinion is likely to be formed by how you prefer to drink your tequila and how you like your Spirits to taste. As such, your preferences may vary a great deal from the person sitting next to you.

You probably prefer one type of tequila over another for mixed drinks. By the same token, you may want something completely different if you want to sip your tequila neat. As a result, some people make the decision to go with something that tends to work well for a number of different uses. If you want something that can be used in margaritas, sipped neat and even used in certain recipes, you may decide to go with Tequila Reposado. As long as you purchase tequila that is of good quality, this can serve as a fine introduction. Therefore, it fits well for those who may be trying tequila for the first time and want something that can fill a number of different roles.

What if you have been drinking tequila for years and you want something that is very specific? You may already know exactly what you want but it’s worth repeating. If you happen to be an individual that prefers your tequila to be strong and bold, yet smooth, Tequila Extra Anejo is the answer every time. By the same token, you might be someone who prefers your tequila to be a bit sweeter with a less robust taste. In that case, you might try Tequila Blanco. Fortunately, there are variations of both of these types of tequila. That means you can find something that works well for you, regardless of your particular preferences.

When it’s all said and done, I encourage you to try all five types of tequila. After all, there is nothing that says you can’t enjoy a bold and robust tequila one day and a very light type of tequila the next. By the same token, there are no rules telling you that you must choose between mixed drinks or sipping your tequila neat. You might be someone who enjoys a variety of different types of tequila made in a variety of different ways. The most important thing is to find the one you enjoy the most and then sit back and do exactly that- enjoy it.

Tim

Tim

Tim is an Entrepreneur and Author who started this site as a hobby to document his experiences with tequila. It's quickly becoming a top resource for tequila and mezcal lovers across the globe.

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