5 Types of Tequila and the Best Ways to Enjoy Them
If you are familiar with tequila, you’re probably aware that it comes in both golden and clear varieties. However, there are several different tequila types that are aged in unique ways and offer a range of complex flavor profiles.
Generally speaking, tequila is a sweet liquor, often marked by fruity or floral notes. It’s distilled from no less than 51% blue weber agave, which is grown in one of five authorized states in Mexico: Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas.
However, not all tequila is the same. The region and altitude where plants are grown impact the flavor and quality of the beverage. So does how it’s aged, including the length of aging and the type of cask. The result is a handful of recognized tequila styles. What are they, and how can you best enjoy them?
Also known as white or silver (plata), this clear liquor differs from other tequilas in that it is not aged in oak casks. In fact, it’s usually not aged at all.
Because it isn’t aged, this variety tends to have a sharp, strong flavor profile that prominently features the agave plant’s sweet, spicy, and herbal notes. As such, it holds its own in even the most complex mixed beverages. It can even be used in cooking to enhance the flavor profile of a favorite dish.
Unlike Blanco, reposado tequila is aged in oak. This generally takes about a year, taking on a golden hue in the process. The name, which means “rested” in Spanish, reflects the short aging time. The benefits of oak aging are readily apparent in the addition of tasting notes. You’ll find flavors like toasted caramel and vanilla that complement the spicy/sweet agave taste.
While reposado remains quite strong, it’s certainly gentler than Blanco but with a richer palate. Reposado can be used for fun mixed drinks, but you may want to experience the cornucopia of flavors on their own. This tequila is best served up or on the rocks to reduce the heat.
Añejo tequila is typically aged for one to three years in oak casks. As the aging process continues, the liquor mellows, developing a richer, often sweeter flavor profile. It also darkens to a more intense, honeyed color.
This tequila variety is easy to enjoy neat or on the rocks, but because of the complexity of flavors, it’s also a great choice for certain mixed drinks with minimal ingredients. Try substituting añejo for bourbon in an old-fashioned. You’ll find the orange and bitters a perfect complement to the velvety caramelization of the tequila.
Aging of three years or more in oak makes for an ultra or extra añejo tequila with a fairly high proof. If you appreciate fine spirits, this is the tequila you’ll likely prefer. You can sip it neat or order it with water to cut the ABV.
What you never want to do is drink it on the rocks or up, as chilling impacts the flavor. Since it’s already incredibly smooth, you shouldn’t require the heat-reducing effects of ice.
Not all clear types of tequila are Blancos. Cristalino is a barrel-aged añejo that is filtered with charcoal. This process removes the golden color of oak aging and refines the profile, bringing out more of the original agave flavor. With the smoothness of aging and a refined palate, this is definitely one you’ll want to drink neat.
Picking Your Preferred Types of Tequila
When choosing tequila, the best thing you can do is sample several types of tequila to discover what you like best. Look for local tasting events or simply purchase a few bottles to experiment with.
Visit Festival Wine & Spirits today to peruse the expansive selection of wine, beer, and spirits, pick up a few faves, and try something new.