It’s no secret that Mexican restaurants love tequila. It’s an integral part of Mexican culture and a staple at bars and restaurants all over the world. Whether you like your tequila straight or prefer it in your margarita, it’s part of the experience of enjoying a night out at a Mexican restaurant. We’re no exception here at Monarquia, which is why we want to take a closer look at how tequila is made and the different varieties.
How It’s Made
Before we get into the details of the production process, we want to cover the requirements for calling something “tequila.” Per current Mexican law, you can’t advertise a product as tequila unless it was made in the town of Tequila, which is in the state of Jalisco in central Mexico. It also has to contain at least 51% blue agave distillate.
Speaking of blue agave, let’s move on to the production process. Tequila is distilled from the blue agave plant. Distillers take the heart of the plant, called the piña, steam it, and shred it to produce a juice called aguamiel. They then add yeast and cane sugar to the juice and let it ferment for several days. Once the fermentation is complete, they distill it in copper pots until it reaches 90-proof or higher. The result is tequila!
The 5 Types of Tequila
Tequila doesn’t only differ from brand to brand. There are five different varieties:
In general, the differences between these types of tequila are how long the spirit is aged. Blanco is aged for a very short time or not at all. Most Blanco tequila is bottled as soon as it is distilled. Reposado is aged for anywhere from 2 to 12 months in oak barrels. Joven is a mixture of Blanco and Reposado, and the taste and characteristics change depending on the ratio. Añejo is aged the longest—between 1 and 3 years—also in oak barrels. Tequila aged for more than 3 years is called extra Añejo. Finally, we have Mixto, which is any tequila that contains less than 100% blue agave, usually because it is mixed with sugars or other spirits.
Tequila connoisseurs debate which variety of tequila is the best. Blanco is often considered the “purest” because it has the most authentic blue agave taste. However, many people prefer Reposado or Añejo because the aging process brings out other flavors and characteristics. Everyone pretty much agrees that Joven and Mixto belong at the bottom of the list, but if you like them, we won’t judge!