by Melissa Blanco –
There are two basic types of tequila – 100% blue agave tequila and mixto. The 100% blue agave tequilas are distilled entirely from the fermented juice of the agave. 100% agave tequilas are required to be distilled and bottled in Mexico. If your bottle of Tequila is not clearly marked as 100% blue agave, the tequila is mixto and may have been distilled from as little as 60% agave juice with other sugars. Tequila prepared from only agave sugars are made in Mexico, and are marked Hecho en México (made in Mexico).
Tequila is aged in wooden barrels that are more often than not made from oak. As tequila is aged, it becomes smoother, with a woody taste and golden color. Aging may disguise the agave flavor and few types of tequila are aged longer than three to four years. Every distillery in Mexico is assigned a NOM number (which stands for Normas Official Mexicana) to show that the distiller has complied with Mexican Government standards. It also shows which company made or bottled the tequila.
There are 4 general categories of tequila:
· Blanco: Blanco or Silver
Blanco tequila is 100% agave tequila that is not aged or treated with additives. This is the traditional tequila that is clear and transparent and fresh from the still. Blanco – also referred to as white or silver tequila – must be bottled directly after the distillation process. This type of tequila has scent and flavor of the blue agave. It is typically strong and is traditionally enjoyed in a “caballito” or shot glass.
· Oro or Gold
Gold tequila is tequila that gains its color by aging in oaks barrels if it is 100% agave. There is also gold or Oro tequila that is mellowed by adding colors and flavorings such as caramel. This tequila is most commonly used for making Margaritas.
· Reposado or Restedhttp://ezangler.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=8977&action=edit&message=10
This is Blanco tequila that has been rested in white oak barrels or vats called “pipones” for at least two months and up to a year. The aging on oak gives Reposado a smooth taste, enjoyable bouquet, and a pale color. Reposado tequila maintains the flavor of the blue agave and is milder to the palate. The demand for Reposado tequilas has grown greatly in the last several years. The prices have increased as well.
· Añejo or Aged
This is 100% agave, aged tequila that has been stored in oak at least one year. It is basically Blanco tequila that has been aged. This tequila is amber in color and picks up its color and flavor from the oak casks in which it is aged. Añejo tequila has a distinctive taste that is picked up from the oak.
Although not a category in itself, it is a special Añejo that certain distillers keep in oak casks for up to 8 years. Reserva is some of the most sought after tequila in the market because of its smooth and complex taste. These tequilas are also among some of the most expensive available.