Not just a joke from an old Get Smart episode, Tequila has become one of the more fashionable and popular distilled spirits. There are several classifications of tequila based on factors such as aging, production methods, and the percentage of agave used. The two main categories are “100% Agave” and “Mixto,” but within the 100% Agave category, there are further classifications based on aging:
- 100% Agave Tequila:
- Blanco (Silver or Plata): Unaged or minimally aged (up to two months) tequila. It is typically clear and has a fresh, crisp flavor with the purest expression of agave.
- Reposado: Aged in oak barrels for a period ranging from two months to one year. This imparts a milder flavor and a pale gold color to the tequila.
- Añejo: Aged in oak barrels for a minimum of one year but less than three years. This results in a darker, more complex tequila with pronounced oak and vanilla flavors.
- Extra Añejo: Aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels. This is the most aged and darkest tequila, with rich, complex flavors often resembling those found in fine spirits like whiskey or cognac.
- Mixto Tequila:
- Made with a minimum of 51% agave sugars, with the remainder coming from other sugars, typically cane sugar. Mixto tequilas are often less expensive and may not offer the same depth of flavor as 100% agave tequilas.
It’s important to note that the best-quality tequilas are often those labeled as “100% Agave,” as they are made entirely from the fermented juice of the agave plant without the addition of other sugars.
Additionally, the region of production plays a role in the classification of tequila. Tequila can only be produced in certain regions of Mexico, primarily in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit, Guanajuato, Michoacán, and Tamaulipas. The most well-known and prestigious region for tequila production is the Jalisco Highlands (Los Altos de Jalisco).