Your Guide To Understanding Different Types Of Tequila
Alcohol is a funny thing. It can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be. Some prefer a cold beer at the end of a long day. They have their preferred brand and stick to it, and there isn’t a thing in the world wrong with that.
Others develop a wide profile of tastes for lagers, shandies, and other subtypes of beer, learning the minutiae of brewing and storage methods. The same can be done for all types of alcohol.
In the world of hard liquor, tequila is unique in its variety of types and flavors. It can be sweet, but with a bite like no other. This fascinating alcohol is simply intriguing, right down to its origins.
But, should a host learn the finer details of tequila, a whole new range of drink options will fly to their fingertips.
This guide will help you take the first steps on your journey to understanding the different types of tequila and how to use them. Your transformation into a true aficionado begins here.
How To Start Drinking Tequila
Where many alcohols are distilled from potatoes, wheat, or some other type of grain, tequila is created from agave plants. Yes, the same ones the sweetener comes from. As a matter of fact, the same substance from the plant is used in both the sweetener and tequila.
Blue agave is native exclusively to Mexico, which is where most tequila is sourced from.
These odd plants look a bit like pineapples, blown up to several times their usual size. After razor-sharp leaves are stripped away, the agave hearts are roasted, then crushed. A sugary liquid emerges, which then goes on to become flavored syrup or gets fermented, creating tequila.
This, however, is where the famous alcohol’s path diverges into several branches, ending in different types of tequila.
There are three main types of tequila and two less common variations. They are broken up into groups based on how long they’ve been aged. Let’s take a look at each, what makes it, and how to use it.
Anyone who’s remotely familiar with Spanish will notice that this type of tequila carries language that denotes the color white or lightness. This is true of the color of the liquid. Tequila Blanco is the “youngest” of the variations, as it is bottled immediately after fermentation. It is also the most common type of tequila that many people are familiar with, even if it isn’t their favorite drink.
This begins the trend of different tequila types on a scale of age and darkness. From here, each type of tequila is aged longer than the last and takes on a darker color as a result. This also causes new flavors to arise within the alcohol and makes it more effective in the use of one drink recipe or another.
The subtle flavor profile of Tequila Blanco makes it a great base for sweet drinks. It lays the groundwork for a great margarita! Because it is the least aged and least strong of the tequila types, it also marries very well with any drinks that include agave syrup. This reunion of blue agave components won’t disappoint!
Going in order of lightest-darkest or youngest-oldest, this type of tequila is next on the list. It is actually a blend of two different types of tequila, unaged Blanco and an aged type. As such, its flavor profile is a tad richer than its younger counterpart.
This type of tequila also often has additives like caramel or some kind of flavored syrup, giving it a darker color. It is known by some to be a smoother taste.
This tequila, born from combination, has a natural potential to be combined in drinks like mojitos, similar to a Blanco variant. It can also be sipped neat, like darker tequilas.
If you’re looking for versatility in your drinks, Tequila Joven might be your best bet. It has often been described to be a good introduction to tequila for someone branching out for the first time.
From here, we transition into tequilas that have been aged. Tequila Reposado is darker than Blanco or Joven, and that color is not from additives. This is the natural progression of fermented agave, given at least two months to age.
This is typically done in American or European barrels. Different types of wood impart different flavors to the finished product.
As with the previous entry, in this tequila, you’ll see an even deeper flavor profile. Because of this, it does well in simple two-ingredient mixes, if not taken neat. For the lowers of sweet flavors, consider soda or fruit juice to add an appreciated twist to your tequila.
This type of tequila has been aged for at least a year, typically in American or European barrels. Some distilleries, however, like to introduce different types of wood to the aging process. This type of tequila is also where you’ll start to see darker colors take prominence.
This tequila has a deep, rich flavor. It is often taken neat. If you are looking for a drink to mix up with your Tequila Anejo, you might try substituting a recipe that usually calls for brown whiskey. An old fashioned is a solid, elegant choice of many.
Extra Anejo Tequila
This type of tequila is at the far end of the spectrum from where we started, not only in color and aging but rarity. Extra Anejo has been aged for three years or more. It is easily recognizable by its deep amber color. Be careful not to mistake golden tequila, which is blended with coloring to mimic aging, for the rare extra Anejo.
This is the type of high-end alcohol you probably don’t want to mix. The top recommendation for extra Anejo tequila is to drink it neat. If you do want to mix it with something, make sure the accompaniment is something equally high-end. An example would be a cocktail made with Thai basil leaves, grapefruit, lime, and green chartreuse.
A Tequila For Any Occasion
You’ve followed the journey of tequila from Mexico all the way to the shelves of your trusted liquor store. You’ve even seen how that journey branches into multiple final destinations. With this understanding comes the power to use tequila to your advantage, when planning virtually any kind of gathering.
For a casual get-together or friends who are light drinkers, you might whip up some cocktails made with Tequila Anejo or Joven. If you’re having guests over who appreciate a fine, aged liquor, you could treat them to a glass of tequila reposado or even Anejo.
For truly special occasions, you might shelter a prized bottle of extra Anejo, to sip neat by the fireplace, or share with a trusted compatriot.
Unlike some other alcohols, tequila offers you a truly staggering range of uses. This does nothing to speak of the different brands there are, either! If you’re interested in introducing tequila to your liquor cabinet, do yourself a favor and sample as many types as you can.
Depending on which you like and what sorts of occasions you serve alcohol for, you never know which one might suit you best.
Whichever tequila you find yourself most attracted to, always drink safely and with friends whenever you can.