When ordering a margarita or a shot, many do not give much thought into the type of spirit they are ordering. Beyond silver or gold, top shelf or house there are many different classifications and types of tequila.
Tequila can be divided into 2 main categories, 100% Blue Agave and Tequila Mixto or mixed tequila. Tequila Mixto is comprised of a minimum of 51% Blue Agave and 49% other sugars. The other sugars can include caramel coloring, oak extract flavoring, cane sugars and glycerin. While Blue Agave is only bottled in the Tequila Region of Mexico, Mixto Tequila is unique in that it can be bottled outside of the traditional Tequila territory.
After the division between 100% Blue Agave and Mixto, tequila can be divided into several different classifications based on its Agave content, color and aging process. Each variety has its own unique color and flavoring.
Blanco tequila is the purest form of Blue Agave. This form is clear, un-aged and showcases the natural sweetness and intensity of the spirit. After distillation, the product can either be bottled or stored in stainless steel tanks for up to 4 weeks.
Typically a Mixto, colors and flavors are added to Gold Tequila prior to bottling. This blend is less expensive and usually used in mixed drinks at restaurants and bars. However, there are a few exceptions. Some types of Gold Tequila result from blending Silver, Reposado or Anejo and still maintain the 100% Agave classification.
This type of tequila is “rested and aged”. After distillation, the spirit is stored in wood barrels for anywhere between 2- 11 months to properly age. The wooden barrels will cause the liquid to take on a golden tint, while the Agave and wood flavors create a unique balance. The most common barrels are American or French oak, but some varieties are aged in bourbon, whiskey, cognac or wine barrels to add hints of the previous spirit.
Tequila can only be considered Anejo or extra aged if it is stored for at least a year. Anejo Tequila requires that the barrels may not exceed 600 liters. The aging process results in tequila that is Amber in color with a smoother, richer and more complex flavor.
Tequila Extra Anejo
This classification of “ultra- aged” came into existence during the summer of 2006. This particular variety is distilled similarly to Tequila Anejo, but is aged more than 3 years. This extended aging process gives the spirit a Mahogany coloring and rich flavoring. The alcohol content of the Extra Anejo must be diluted with distilled water after aging. The final product has a smooth yet complex taste.
Grab your favorite variety and let's toast to that delicious kick in a glass!