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There are two main variations of tequila: 100% blue agave and tequila mixto. Mixto tequila must contain a minimum of 51% blue agave to be able to receive the title, with the rest of the spirit made up of other sugars (such as cane sugar).
Other ingredients that go into tequila mixto include oak extract flavouring, sugar-based syrup, caramel colour and glycerin. Tequila mixto can be made outside of the tequila territory, where traditional tequila is made, there is even Australian made tequila being found in bars across the world.
So, if you’ve ever wanted to know more about this magical spirit, here are the six main types of tequila being produced in Mexico and across the globe.
1. Tequila silver
Tequila silver (blanco, plata, white, platinum), is the blue agave plant put to its purest use. It is a typically un-aged, incredibly pure tequila where full, intense flavours of the agave are instantly noticeable. The blue agave plant is naturally sweet, and this adds to the flavour of tequila silver. It can be stored in stainless steel tanks to settle for up to four weeks or bottled directly after distillation. Some tequila blanco products are aged for up to two months to offer the tequila a “suave” (smooth) flavour.
2. Tequila gold
Tequila gold (joven, oro), is usually a mixto, where flavouring and colourings have been added before they are bottled. Tequila gold is typically “young and adulterated”, more inexpensive and typically used to make mixed drinks in bars throughout Mexico and, today, the world.
This being said, “joven” or “gold” tequila can also be produced from blending reposado and/or anejo tequila with silver tequila, thus maintaining its 100% agave classification.
3. Tequila reposado
Tequila reposado is the first phase of “rested and aged” tequila. This specialised tequila is typically aged in storage tanks or wood barrels between two and 11 months. This spirit carries a golden colouration and there is a fine balance between the wood and agave flavours. Many variations of wood barrels are used for ageing this tequila, including French or American oak. Certain tequilas used in cognac, bourbon or wine barrels may take on an intense flavouring from the previous spirit produced in those barrels.
4. Tequila anejo
Tequila anejo (extra aged), is aged for one year before taking on the anejo classification. The distillers have to age this tequila in barrels that cannot surpass 600 litres, like wine barrels. This particular ageing process gives the tequila an amber hue, making the flavour more complex, richer and smoother.
5. Tequila extra anejo
Tequila extra anejo (ultra aged), is a recent classification, commencing in 2006, and refers to any tequila that is aged for more than three years. Ultra anejo tequila follows the same rules as extra anejo, with distillers having to age the tequila in barrels that do not surpass 600 litres capacity.
As there is a minimum length of ageing, this tequila becomes far darker, taking on a mahogany hue, and is so rich in flavour that it can easily be compared to other high quality aged spirits. Extra anejo is extremely complex and smooth in flavour.
6. Other variants
You can find other tequila variations, these are typically drinks like tequila infusions, tequila mixers, tequila creams, liqueurs and more. These tequilas are typically added to specialised cocktails. If you are looking for a good tequila liqueur, it’s still always a good idea to try and find one that is made with 100% agave tequilas as opposed to mixto.