Kinds of Tequila and What to Have Them With

por Rafael Ramos Rafael Ramos | Jan 4, 2022 6:47:17 PM

tequila FAQ

In a previous blog, we talked bout the designation of origin, the ABV that a tequila must have and production processes.

This time we'll talk about:

  • The different categories and types of tequilas that there are
  • If the resting processes keeps happening in the bottle
  • The different kinds of glasses to drink a tequila from

We hope this blog post helps answer those questions that you may have about tequila. Here we go!

Tequila or 100% Tequila? White? Rested? Vintage? What's the difference?

A) Based on the sugars used in its production, tequila is divided into two categories:

  1. 100% Tequila. Made only with sugars that come from Tequilana Weber Agave, Blue Variety.
  2. Tequila. Made with at least 51% of Tequilana Weber Agave, Blue Variety sugars. The rest of the sugars come from a different source, such as sugar cane, corn syrup, from fruits...

B) Based on the time it spends -or doesn't spend- resting in wooden barrels (whether it's a 100% tequila or tequila), this drink is divided into 5 kinds. Why? Because what makes the difference is the time the tequila spends in a barrel, in contact with wood; It's the wood of the barrel that adds color, aroma and taste to the product.

These 5 kinds of tequilas are:

  1. White or silver. It never makes contact with wood, that's why it is crystalline, transparent, colorless.
  2. Young or Gold. It's a white tequila to which coloring is added (any of those allowed by the Tequila Regulatory Council, for example, caramel color, wood extract, glycerin). Its characteristics are obtained by this coloring, not by being in a wooden barrel.
  3. Rested
  4. Aged
  5. Ultra aged

The last 3 are those that get their characteristics from the wood and the difference between these 3 lies in the resting time and characteristics of the wood.

How do I know if it's a rested tequila or if it's got its golden color with a coloring?

If a buyer wants to know if the tequila bottle he's buying got its golden color with a coloring or by being in touch with wood, all he has to do is read the label. It must be labeled as "rested, aged or ultra aged" (reposado, añejo and extra-añejo, in Spanish). If you can't find any of these in the label, it means that an additive/coloring was added to this product (which is fine, they're approved by the Tequila Regulatory Council).

Aged is better than white?

Not necessarily. A rested tequila was once a white tequila. The quality is the same, what changes is the notes it gets tanks to the time it spent in contact with the wood of the barrels.

For many people, due to their palate, it gives them the feeling that the rested or vintage tequila is a softer product because it doesn't feel as "burning" in the throat as a white tequila does, but this is because of the traits and notes that the wood gave the tequila, not because it's of better or worse quality. In the rested or vintage tequilas, the alcohol that started being a white tequila is "disguised" by the notes of vanilla, of roasted seeds, that the wood gives to it. All the flavors that the wood has add notes to the liquid disguising the alcohol. That's why it feels softer to the palate and perhaps we confuse this with being of a better quality, but that's not true, they both can be of excellent quality.

Now, it depends on the palate of each person to choose which tequila to drink.

  • There are people with strong palates, who like strong flavors, spices, garlic ... These kind of people usually like white tequilas.
  • There are people with sweeter palates, who prefer sweeter foods. These people usually like rested or aged tequilas.

100% Tequila and Tequila ... When to buy one or the other?

Both are good and the decision depends on each person's palate. The 100% tequilas have more agave notes and the Tequila is slightly sweeter due to the added sugars. In the end, it really depends on consumer's palate, the one he likes the most, the one he likes best.

Tequilas are widely used for mixology, as they tend to be the economic lines of the tequila industry. So, if you are going to make a mixed cocktail it is better to use tequilas and preferably, that they are not rested. Many people say "I'm going to buy a rested tequila to make some margaritas" ... You can, of course! but honestly, I think it would be disrespectful to a tequila that's been waiting for so long, during so many years, to be tasted. Aged tequilas ​ have gone through a period of resting and therefore, deserve respect. The best way to take them would be straight, at their purest, to taste them.

In terms of cocktails, my recommendation would be to use white tequilas, which are cheaper and in the end, they will give you the result that you are looking for in a cocktail, which is to get fresh notes from the product. That's why a white tequila is key for mixology. It can be a white 100% tequila or tequila.

How do I know if the tequila I'm buying is 100% tequila?

A consumer can identify if he's buying a 100% pure agave tequila by reading the label, which should say any of the following:

  • 100% pure agave
  • 100% blue agave
  • 100% agave

Does my tequila expire? Does its taste change over time?

Once this product is poured in a stainless steel or glass bottle, it should no longer undergo any changes, that is, it shouldn't keep undergoing an aging or fermentation process.

A tequila really doesn't expire. It can last for years. What may happen is that, after spending many years in a cellar or in a home bar, the seal of the bottle may expire. If the seal expires, the product will evaporate. If that's the case then yes, there will be a change in the characteristics of the product. But it'll be because the alcohol, followed by the rest of the liquid, will evaporate. Due to this evaporation, the characteristics of the product will obviously change.

So, as long as you don't break the seal or you don't open your tequila bottle, it can last for many years. Obviously, the time will come when the seal, by its very nature, will expire, changing the characteristics of the product, but tequila itself doesn't have an expiration date.

Tequila should be served in a shot, right?

Yes, but not only as a shot. Here's where we can see the versatility of the drink. We can use the glass that we want, to make any drink we want!

If you want to drink it straight, the most common version is indeed the shot, but it can also be served in:

  • Riedel Glass. It's the official glass for tequila tasting. If you want to identify the organoleptic notes of the product, you have to do it in this glass. Just as champagne and cognac have their own glasses, tequila also has its own glass to taste the product, and it's this one.
  • Martini glass. For the classic margarita
  • Old Fashioned glass. For a tequila on the rocks (aged tequila)

The truth is that this versatility tequila has makes our drink a very unique drink in the world. And if you don't want to use a glass ... straight from the bottle it is!

Follow our blog posts so you don't miss the last blog of this series and learn more about our traditional Mexican drink. Cheers!

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