Get to know your tequila including common serving methods, production techniques, classifications & more.
There’s no need to have a lime and salt on hand to enjoy tequila, but it does help to know the facts. We’re breaking down the myths and misconceptions of this classic spirit.
Tequila is most often associated with the Mexican city from which it derived, but today there are distilleries all around the world producing agave spirits. However, much like Champagne can only come from France, it may only be considered true tequila if itâs made from the blue agave plant in a certain region of Mexico. And just to clarify, mescal is the father of tequila but features a different flavor profile due to the many varieties of agave used.
Tequila must contain at least 40% alcohol (80 proof) to be sold in the United States. Traditionally itâs served neat, but it’s often treated as a shot with salt and lime outside of Mexico–a practice thatâs frowned upon when dealing with high quality tequila.
It all starts with the indigenous agave plant. Farmers first remove the leaves, exposing the heart portion which resembles a pineapple. The agave is cooked, and the sugar or âhoney waterâ is extracted, which is then fermented and distilled at least twice. Finally, tequila is aged in oak barrels for a specified amount of time to achieve the desired effect.
Also known as silver or gold tequila, these clear spirits are aged under 60 days (if at all) in stainless steel tanks. Blanco tequila is primarily used for mixing.
Best Bargain: Espolón Blanco – Best In Show Silver Tequila & Double Gold Medal Winner at the 2011 San Francisco Spirits Competition
Top Shelf Pick: Casamigos Blanco – Double Gold Medal Winner at the 2014 San Francisco Spirits Competition
Rested tequilas are aged in wood casks for at least two months and as many as nine months. More mellow than pure blancos, reposados are versatile enough for sipping or mixingâ”commonly used in Palomas and other cocktails.
Best Bargain: Cazadores Reposado – Scored 91 points by the Beverage Testing Institute
Top Shelf Pick: Clase Azul Reposado – Scored 92 points by the Beverage Testing Institute and awarded a Gold Medal at the 2006 San Francisco Spirits Competition
These mature spirits are most often aged in American white oak, French oak or bourbon barrels for a minimum of one year. Perfect for sipping straight, añejo tequila is dark and robust featuring incredible smoothness and balance.
Best Bargain: Hornitos Black Barrel Añejo – The most highly awarded tequila since 2014 including a Gold Medal at the 2016 International Wine & Spirits Competition
Top Shelf Pick: Don Julio 1942 Añejo – Scored 98 points by Wine Enthusiast and awarded several medals at San Francisco Spirits Competitions