Tequila, a shot glass, and a nasty burn are three things that no longer need to be associated together. The truth is tequila has a far more extensive history than those ultra strong margaritas you drank in college. Over the last decade tequila has evolved into an extremely versatile spirit and a quality drink that people can enjoy over ice.
How is Tequila Made?
Put simply, tequila comes from the blue agave plant. This plant grows for about 7 – 12 years, and then the pina of the plant, which resembles a pineapple, is harvested. The pinas are then baked and steamed until the starches are converted into sugars. This steamed plant is milled, the juices are extracted, fermented, and distilled. This process takes a lot of work. In fact, it is believed that the word tequila originated from the Aztec language and translates to “the place where a lot of work is done.”
Where Does Tequila Come From?
Tequila made from 100% agave is only produced in Mexico. But even more stringently, it can only be made in certain states in Mexico, such as Jalisco and some areas of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. Any agave-based spirits that are not from these regions are called mescal. From the regions above there are five different categories of true tequila: Blanco, Joven, Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo.
5 Types of Tequila
When talking about the five types of tequila it is important to realize that only 100% agave tequila is being discussed. This type of tequila has no added sugar. The other variety is called a “mixto.” Mixtos can contain no less than 51 percent agave, but the remaining portion is made up of sugars. The five different varieties of 100% agave tequila that most people are familiar with are placed into categories based on their aging process.
This is tequila in its purest form. Blanco tequila is clear, and is aged no more than 60 days, or sometimes not aged at all. By not aging the tequila, you’re able to taste the raw flavor of the agave. If the Blanco is aged for a short period, it is aged in stainless steel, not an oak barrel, so the flavor stays pure. This variation is the most popular with the tequila devotees back in the drink’s originating country. Not only is it usually the cheapest variation, it is said to be the smoothest variation of tequila – best for shots and perfect for any tequila cocktail.
Joven translates to young. So you guessed it, this tequila is also unaged. Unlike the blanco variation, this tequila is mixed with an extra component for flavor. These flavorings include caramel, oak extract, syrup, or other additives. It can also be mixed with another category of tequila, such as Añejo. A fair warning: this type of tequila is not easy to find, but with a little searching you should be able to locate it.
Reposado is the middle ground in the five variations of tequila. This rested tequila is aged anywhere from 2 to 11 months in an oak barrel. The aging process leaves the tequila with a slight oak flavor and a light straw color. Reposado tequila can be very versatile. It is best used in lighter flavored tequila cocktails, like margaritas.
This tequila, as the name explains, is aged. It spends one to three years in the barrel. This long aging leads to deeper, woodier flavors. The taste has been described as being similar to black tea and chocolate layered over the agave flavor with butterscotch and caramel undertones. Añejo tequila has a deep amber color similar to whiskey. The robust flavor and smoothness of this drink makes it best for sipping straight from a chilled glass.
5. Extra Añejo
This variation is relatively new to the market. The extra Añejo variation includes any tequila that has been aged for more than three years. The flavors in these aged tequilas provide a full palate of flavor, including oaky and vanilla tastes. Extra Añejo tequila takes time to perfect, and the price reflects that. Most of these bottles run around $300 and up. The luxurious taste of this tequila should not be mixed with sweeteners. It is best sipped alone or paired with a full-bodied cigar.
Best Spot for Tequila in Jersey City
Stop by Gringo’s to look over an extensive list of tequila. Whether you are looking to celebrate with a margarita, sip on a full-bodied tequila, or indulge on a shooter, Gringo’s has you covered. Our staff will be happy to assist in the best tequila-taco pairings too. Come visit Gringo’s prime Jersey City location or feel free to contact us with any questions!