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5 Different Types of Tequila, Explained

Learn the different kinds of tequila and how they’re different.

Tropical and summer drinks are an excellent way to enjoy the quickly approaching summer. One of the best liquors for tropical drinks is tequila!

Multiple types of tequila shots with salt and lime at sunset by the sea

I enjoy tequila on its own or mixed into fruity cocktails. However, not all tequila is created equal, and the way I use tequila varies depending on the type of tequila I use.

Tequila is a Mexican-produced liquor that has increased in popularity in the United States over the last two decades. All tequila is made from blue agave and sugar, but the methods that distillers use to produce tequila lead to several types.

Five types of tequila exist depending on the length of time distillers age tequila and the containers they age tequila in. I enjoy all five types of tequila, but it’s important to know what the differences are to end up with a drink that is best for you.

Types of Tequila

Learn about the five different types of tequila below so that you can find the one that best fits your tastes!


Añejo Tequila

“Añejo” means “old” or “aged” in English. This is an apt name for añejo tequila because the defining characteristic of this liquor is an aging process that lasts for one to three years.

Additionally, añejo tequila ages in containers no larger than 600 liters. These smaller batch sizes ensure that you can taste any flavor extracted from the container in every sip of tequila.

Some brands of añejo tequila age their tequila in oak barrels or barrels already used to age bourbon or sherry.

Añejo tequila is generally smoother than a standard or silver tequila, making it a good choice for an añejo old-fashioned or any other mixed drinks that don’t attempt to cover the taste of the añejo.

However, añejo tequila can still be used in standard mixed tequila drinks and will taste very good.


Tequila Blanco

Regular tequila is often called tequila Blanco or silver tequila because it doesn’t have a chance to pick up additional color or flavor notes through the aging process.

While regular tequila is considered “unaged,” some brands will age their tequila for a maximum of two months.

Regular tequila is generally harsher than the other types of tequila, but it is one of the most affordable tequila options. I enjoy standard tequila, but the way that I prepare drinks with it is more mindful than with other tequila types.

I like to mix standard tequila with intense lime or citrus flavors to help mask some of the bite of the liquor. 

One of my favorite drinks for standard tequila is a dreamcatcher because the combination of lime and grapefruit is a delicious way to blunt the tequila.


Extra Añejo

Extra añejo tequila is a tequila that is “extra aged.”

While a regular añejo tequila ages for one to three years, an extra añejo is a tequila that ages for longer than three years.

Most extra añejo tequilas age in oak barrels. Like with standard añejo tequila, these barrels must be 600 liters or smaller to earn the “añejo” designation.

Extra añejo generally tastes bolder than a regular añejo tequila, and I enjoy extra añejo best lightly chilled and sipped.

An ice cube or two can weaken the tequila as it melts, so I prefer to chill the bottle and sip the extra añejo neat. However, it isn’t uncommon for others to add ice, and neither way is wrong!


Joven

“Joven” means “young” in English, and it makes sense with how this type of tequila is produced.

Joven tequila is an unaged tequila mixed with another older type of tequila. This type of tequila is often a bit sharper and more potent than tequila aged longer.

The mixing of old with the young ensures that Joven tequila still gets some of the flavor notes of the more aged tequila. However, the taste is not as rich or pervasive as some of the other types.

While you can drink Joven tequila on its own, I prefer it mixed with a fruit-flavored soda, such as grapefruit, or with juice. Joven tequila is delicious in a tequila sunrise.


Reposado

“Resposado” means “rested” in English. While this tequila isn’t allowed to age as long as añejo or extra añejo, it is allowed more time than a standard tequila.

Reposado tequila ages for at least two months, but less than the year needed to be considered an añejo.

Reposado is generally aged in oak barrels but can also age in stainless steel. Unlike with the añejo and the extra añejo tequilas, there isn’t a limit on batch size for production.

Reposado is an affordable tequila that is generally best in mixed drinks. Most standard tequila cocktails, such as a tequila sunrise or a Paloma, work well with a reposado.

Additionally, it is easier to take shots of reposados than a standard tequila.


Types of Tequila

  1. Añejo Tequila
  2. Tequila Blanco
  3. Extra Añejo
  4. Joven
  5. Reposado

Final Thoughts

This article described the five types of tequilas and the aging process that makes each one unique.

The type of tequila matters, and how I best enjoy them changes depending on the type of tequila.

Tequila is an excellent choice for a summer drink, and armed with the knowledge of how each type tastes and what each type goes well with, you are set up well to enjoy a tropical alcoholic treat!

Check out our favorite top shelf tequilas to find a good bottle.

Whichever type of tequila you choose, I expect your summer will be more enjoyable!

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.