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What Is Tequila?
Tequila is a Mexican distilled beverage made from the blue agave plants grown in the state of Jalisco and in selected municipalities in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. It is a type of mezcal, a broader category that includes spirits made from other types of agave plants.
The 5 Types of Tequila
There are three main types of tequila—blanco, reposado, and añejo—with two additional variations.
1. Tequila Blanco.
Also known as silver tequila, blanco is the unaged expression of tequila distilled from the blue Weber agave and hailing from one of five western states in Mexico. Look for bottles that are labeled “100% blue agave.” Blanco tequilas are perfect candidates for Margaritas.
2. Tequila Joven.
Blanco bottles labeled “joven” typically contain a small amount of aged tequila blended with unaged tequila.
3. Tequila Reposado.
Tequila reposado is tequila that is aged in American or European oak barrels for at least two months and up to a year. Reposado tequilas make for more dynamic, flavorful Margaritas.
4. Tequila Añejo.
Tequila añejo is tequila aged in American or European oak barrels for at least a year. (Some producers introduce other barrels into the aging and blending process as well.) Añejo tequilas are best for sipping neat or as an alternative base spirit in recipes that call for brown spirits like whiskey.
5. Extra Añejo.
Rare extra añejo expressions are aged for at least three years.
Although an amber color can indicate the age of a tequila, stay away from gold tequila, which is usually tequila plus caramel coloring and artificial flavoring.
Highland vs. Lowland Tequila: What’s the Difference?
Like wine, agave spirits gain much of their character from the terroir, or environmental surroundings, in the region in which they’re produced. Highland tequilas, produced at higher elevation, display a soft sweetness and a floral aroma; lowland tequilas, produced in lower valley regions, have a more herbaceous character and a distinct earthy minerality.
4 Classic Tequila Cocktail Recipes
Tequila works well in a variety of cocktails and features in many iconic drinks.
- Tequila sunrise: The Tequila Sunrise cocktail is easy to make and is built directly in the glass—all you need is tequila, orange juice, and grenadine.
- Paloma: This cocktail is a classic Mexican combination of grapefruit-flavored soda and tequila. You can also make a Paloma with fresh grapefruit juice.
- Margarita: Margarita translates to “daisy,” a vintage name for a sour that uses a liqueur as a sweetener. Learn how to make the perfect Margarita here.
- Long Island Iced Tea: Known for its high alcohol content, Long Island Iced Tea includes vodka, tequila, gin, rum, and triple sec.
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