Tequila 101

Learn everything you need to know about Tequila!

What is Tequila?

Tequila is a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant, primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila 65 km northwest of Guadalajara, and in the Jaliscan Highlands of the central western Mexican state of Jalisco.

In order to have the term "Tequila" labeled on your bottle it MUST be produced and bottled in Jalisco, Mexico and a few surrounding municipalities. "Hecho en Mexico" is printed on the bottle which translates to "Made in Mexico."

Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico

What is Blanco Tequila?

    Blanco, Plata, and Silver

    Blanco Tequila, which can also be referred to as Plata or Silver tequila, is an agave spirit bottled directly after the distillation process. Blanco tequila is typically rested in stainless-steel tanks to allow for proper oxidisation, but can also be rested in Oak or Holm Oak barrels for up to 4 Weeks. Blanco is considered as a form of Tequila in its purest form which is clear in color containing the true flavors of the Agave plant in which it originated from.

    Some prefer Blanco tequila because it is young, immature, and pure. The aging process creates distance from it's original form in which the Tequila assumes an identity of its own. Aged tequila requires a long wait, but through the aging process it develops it's own identity.

What is Reposado Tequila?

    Reposado or "rested" is a classified as a form of aged tequila. In order to be claimed as a Reposado, the tequila must be rested in barrels or tanks ranging anywhere from 2 to 11 months. There are different variations of barrels that may be used but typically the most common is in French Oak barrels. You can identify Reposado tequila by it's light golden color and is the only aged tequila that slightly resembles it's orginal form with a combination of Agave and Oak flavoring.
What is Añejo Tequila?
    Añejo or "aged" tequila is the next step up from Reposado, and must be aged for at least 1 year, and up to 3 years. Sometimes you can get lucky with particular brands and get your hands on an Añejo tequila that was aged for more than 3 years, although not common. When aging tequila, the Distillery is not permittted to exceed a barrel size of 600 liters. You can identify an Añejo tequila by it's darker amber color which takes on an identity of it's own. Añejo tequila is meant to be sipped typically at room temperature, but some people do prefer their drinks on the rocks. as it has a flavour and price point that isn't traditionally meant to be used in cocktails, although you're free to do whatever you want!
What is Extra Añejo Tequila?
    Extra Añejo or extra "aged" tequila is also a sipping tequila that is aged for more than 3 years in a barrel and depending on the product, is aged much longer. Extra Añejo falls more into the category of true tequila aficionados, although any person who enjoys tequila must try and cherish at least good bottle of this caliber. The aging of this class of tequila is also required to use barrels no larger than 600 liters.
What is Cristalino Tequila?
    Cristalino Tequila was first introduced to the market in 2011. Cristalino is known for using an Añejo Tequila and running it through a charcoal filtering process to produce a clear spirit. There are brands such as Adictivo tequila which go a step further and use Extra Añejo for their Cristalinos to give it even more flavor. The complexity of an Añejo's flavors with the Agave brightness of a Blanco Tequila is the result product.
What is Mezcal Tequila?
    Mezcal is an Agave spirit which can be produced from 28 different types of Agave including the Blue Weber Agave which is what Tequila is made from. Mezcal is primarily made in the city of Oaxaca and cooked using in-ground pits as opposed to Tequila which is crafted in above-ground ovens . Mezcal is cooked using roasted Piñas which is where the smokey flavor originates from. All Mezcal's offer a smokey palate which is favored over Tequila by some, and typically pairs well with a nice cigar!
What is a NOM number?
    The NOM or Norma Oficial Mexicana that you see on tequila bottles are a four digit number that is assigned to the distillery which was responsible for producing the brand of tequila. More advanced tequila sippers make decisions on purchasing tequila that comes from specific distilleries as they usually share the same process. Using websites like Tequila Matchmaker, you can look up specific products and brands that were made by entering a NOM found on the bottle. This is also how most people find other brands to try made in a distillery that they favor.
How long does Blue Weber Agave take to grow?
    The Blue Weber Agave which is what Tequila is made from takes at least seven (7) years to reach full maturity before it can be harvested. The Blue Weber Agave needs time to mature so that it can obtain higher fructose levels, which is what creates a higher quality, smoother end product.
I bought some tequila, where is my worm?
    Most people that are new to tequila are under the impression that their bottle should come with a worm inside of it. Although many believe this to be a worm, it's actually the larva of a moth which lives on the actual Agave plant. Tequila does not contain larvae, Mezcal is actually the spirit that traditionally included the larvae within the bottle, but it's not as common as one may expect. You won't many Mezcal in the United States that contain a larva or scorpion due to FDA restrictions, although there are some that have gotten FDA approval.