Tequila is a spirit produced from the blue agave plant. Unlike other major spirit categories, tequila can only be made in five states in Mexico; Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, Guanajuato, and Tamaulipas. It can be aged in oak barrels or bottled straight from the still, allowing for a wide variety of styles and flavor profiles. Tequila is most often blended with other tequila distillate creating a 100% agave product or mixed with grain spirit resulting in what is called a “mixto.” In 1893, Tequila was introduced to the United States during the Chicago World’s Fair. As of today, the U.S has become one of tequila’s largest consumers, taking in almost 80% of its export. Origin: Believed to have originated around the town of Tequila, in the State of Jalisco in the 16th century. The highly fermentable sugars from the agave plant were fermented into a low alcohol juice called pulque before Spanish settlers distilled it into a spirit.
This is the Blue Agave spirit in its purest form. It is clear and typically un-aged, where the true flavors and the intensity of the Agave are present, as well as the natural sweetness. It can be bottled directly after distillation or stored in stainless steel tanks to settle for up to 4 weeks. There are some Blanco products that are aged for up to 2 months to provide a smoother or “Suave” spirit.
Gold Tequila is typically a Mixto, where colorants and flavorings have been added prior to bottling. These “young and adulterated” Tequilas are less expensive and used in many bars and restaurants for “mixed drinks”.
There are exceptions however, as a “Gold” or “Joven” Tequila can also be the result of blending a Silver Tequila with a Reposado and/or Añejo Tequila, while keeping the 100% Agave classification.
A Reposado Tequila is the first stage of “rested and aged”. The Tequila is aged in wood barrels or storage tanks between 2 months and 11 months. The spirit takes on a golden hue and the taste becomes a good balance between the Agave and wood flavors. Many different types of wood barrels are used for aging, with the most common being American or French oak. Some Tequilas are aged in used bourbon / whiskey, cognac, or wine barrels, and will inherit unique flavors from the previous spirit.
Reposado Tequilas are also referred to as “rested” and “aged”.
After aging for at least one year, Tequila can then be classified as an “Añejo”. The distillers are required to age Añejo Tequila in barrels that do not exceed 600 liters. This aging process darkens the Tequila to an Amber color, and the flavor can become smoother, richer, and more complex.
Añejo Tequilas are also referred to as “aged” and “extra-aged”.