If you’ve ever walked into a Mexican restaurant and ordered a margarita, you’ve had an experience with Mexican tequila. Unless you looked into the various types and flavors of Mexican tequila available, however, you might not know how vastly different they really are.
If you’ve ever assumed that all Mexican tequila is virtually the same, this article will help you understand the wonderful, flavorful, and exciting differences between the different types of this staple spirit.
What Elements Make up a Quality Tequila?
To understand what makes each variety of Mexican tequila different, it’s important first to understand the components required for a great tequila.
While many tequila experts will tell you the best variety is simply the one you like the most, the following elements are typically attributed to good tequila:
- Good tequila is not harsh or bitter. The best tequilas in the world taste exceptional. While most people expect Mexican tequila to bite or go down harshly, great tequila is smooth and pleasant to drink.
- Good tequila does not make the drinker feel “hungover.” The distillation process of good tequila removes many of the elements that cause hangovers, and experts agree that the best Mexican tequila does not make drinkers feel groggy or hungover.
- Good tequila can pair well with any food. Although the standard pairing is a delicious Mexican dinner, great Mexican tequila can pair well with virtually any dish.
- The best tequila is 100% agave. While “mixto” tequilas are everywhere, the best-tasting tequila is 100% agave. This tequila contains no cane sugar (which is how it saves drinkers from hangovers) and offers a better taste than mixed varieties.
The Different Kinds of Tequila & Their Characteristics
There are several different types of tequila, and people who want to get more familiar with Mexican tequila will do well to learn the following varieties:
Silver tequila is commonly called “Blanco.” Aged only a couple of weeks, this is the purest form of tequila available and is typically used in mixed drinks like margaritas.
Gold tequila gets its distinct hue from the addition of caramel food coloring that is added to the spirit before it enters the fermentation process.
While this may seem like an unnecessary addition, it’s important to understand that high-quality aged tequilas are gold in color, and the manufactures of gold tequila add the caramel coloring to give the impression of luxury.
While gold tequilas are standard, this is the variety that is most likely to be “mixto,” or mixed with cane sugars. These variations will cause hangovers and do not taste as good as their 100% agave counterparts, which are commonly made by combining aged tequila with silver tequila.
Unlike silver tequilas, gold tequilas are not aged.
Reposado is the word for “rest” in Spanish, and Reposado tequilas live up to their name. Rested for between two months and one whole year, Reposado tequilas are gold in color (a trait they get from the barrels makers age these varieties in).
In addition to influencing the color of the spirt, the aging barrels also influence the flavor of the drink, depending upon whether they are oak or white oak.
Añejo tequilas are commonly regarded as the best variety of tequila for sipping straight. This is owing in large part to their smooth flavor and satisfying, dark color.
Aged for between 1-3 years, Añejo varieties are separated from Extra Añejo varieties only by aging time. The latter is aged for longer than three years, and is the most expensive type of tequila on the market.
How to Drink Quality Tequila: 3 Tips
While many people are familiar with shooting the spirit, there’s a traditional way to drink tequila that puts you in touch with the drink’s ancient roots.
1. Opt For A 100% Agave Variety
Aficionados can’t stress this enough. In addition to not making you feel groggy, these varieties just taste better all-around.
2. Don’t Shoot It, Sip It Instead
Tequila is not meant to be shot. If you’re not going to enjoy the spirit in a mixed drink, enjoy the spirit from a snifter glass. Choose a high-quality variety for sipping, and enjoy the unique tastes and flavors therein.
3. Don’t Chase Your Drink With Lime & Salt
While lime and salt have become the traditional partners of tequila in the U.S., you won’t see this tradition in Mexico. Meant to mask the harsh flavor of mixto tequila varieties, you can abandon this habit by drinking better-quality tequila.
Looking for a Mexican Tequila to Fall in Love with? Visit Benito’s Authentic Mexican Food
The world of Mexican tequila is varied and complex, and the best way to get your bearings is to spend time in a community that understands and appreciates it.
At Benito’s Authentic Mexican Food in Fort Worth, TX, we offer delicious Mexican dishes and some high-quality Mexican tequila to help you build your palate and your understanding.
A family-friendly place that offers traditional cuisine and a fun environment, Benito’s Authentic Mexican Food is the perfect place to develop your understanding of and taste for Mexican tequila.
So whether you intend to enjoy a tasty margarita or sip yours strait with a sangrita, our skilled staff is here to help you dive into the world of this ancient and delicious spirit.