14 Apr 2017

Understanding the Types of Tequila

What is the difference between regular Tequila and Premium Tequila?

Most premium tequilas are made from 100% blue agave (they will state this on the label), resulting in a spirit with complex aromatics and flavours. Regular tequilas contain a minimum of 51% blue agave and are blended with neutral grain spirit.
Tequila is a strong liquor that is made from a type of cactus native to Mexico called agave (Say it with me: Ah-GAH-Vey), particularly, the BLUE AGAVE plant. Other similar liquors are made from other types of agave, but REAL tequila is ONLY made from BLUE Agave. Types of TequilaRegion also determines authenticity. Much like Champagne, in order for Tequila to really earn its name, it MUST be made from plants that come from a specific region of Mexico where the Agave plant grows natively (the city of Tequila, and a few other specific areas). We can trace the earliest roots (no pun intended) of distilling agave to make booze all the way back to the ancient Aztec people. Their drink, Pulque (POOL-kay), is among the earliest known ancestors to tequila. When the Spaniards came, they adopted the drink and began utilizing some of their own European techniques for distilling. This slowly evolved into what is modern-day tequila. Other liquors, like Vodka, have had a history of (sometimes heated) debate over their origins, but there is no question; Tequila is Mexican.

Tequila Blanco (AKA Silver, White or Planta)

This clear tequila is not aged before storing, and will have the simplest flavour. This is a popular type for mixing since it will “disappear” most and not overwhelm the flavour of the drink. Common at the high, middle, and low-end, beginner shot-shooters (is that a thing?) will like this for its smoothness. Premium Tequila have stronger notes and are smoother on the profile.

Tequila Reposado

Tequila Reposado is aged in Oak for min 2, and up to 12 months before storing or distribution. Among the more popular types of tequila, this medium-amber colored spirit will have a light, but complex flavour, making it the ideal “All Purpose” tequila. You can shoot it, you can sip it, or you can mix it.

Tequila Oro (Gold)

This light amber colored tequila, also called “Joven,” is a mixture of Tequila Plata and Reposado. It’s mostly found in the low to middle-end categories. It’s also usually the strongest, as far as alcohol contents goes and the harshest, as far as flavour goes. Poor quality Gold is usually coloured artificially.

Tequila Añejo

Pronounced “On-YAY-ho,” this is the most complex-flavoured type of tequila. It’s aged for at least a minimum of a year (Extra Añejo is aged 3+ years) in a small oak barrel, giving it a robust, smoky flavour and bright floral undertones (try not to sound too pretentious when repeating that to friends). This is the Tequila for Cognac fans (a sipping tequila.) You can apply most of the same rules to Tequila that you would to Whiskey or Scotch. If drinking something good, an aficionado will drink 3-5oz. out of a snifter (a low-ball glass also works) served at room temperature, or on the rocks. That’s it. There’s no need to shake the glass or sniff it, the aromas will become more prevalent as you are drinking. Remember, the good stuff is to be enjoyed, not pounded. If the flavour is too intense for you, salt about an inch of your glass (don’t salt the whole thing) and have a slice of lime (preferably key lime) on hand as a quick chaser. A good tequila should have a warm kick to it, and it should start in your chest (don’t ask me how the timing works, it just does.) Premium Tequila should not be served with salt or Lemon/Lime. When taking a shot, always remember to raise your glass before drinking if you are with company. It’s not required that a full, heavy hearted toast be delivered upon every shot, but it’s generally considered a courtesy to give your fine drink and even finer company the nod. If everyone is taking a shot (this is where the fun begins!), then a good customary toast is, in unison, “Parriba!” (everyone raises their drinks) “Pabajo!” (everyone touches the bottom of their shot-glass to the table) “Pal Centro!” (drinks meet in the center) “Y Pa Dentro!” have fun..Enjoy Responsibly....  

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