Tequila is a spirit type of alcoholic beverage and is essentially made using the plant called blue agave or Agave tequilana that is found in Mexico. Ethnic Mexicans have used the agave plant many centuries even before the Spanish have arrived. They use it not just for food and fabrics, but also in the making of the alcoholic spirit we have all come to know as tequila. The tequila alcoholic spirit is made primarily using the blue gave only.
When making tequila, distillers harvest blue agaves that are around 6-10 years old. When the agaves are harvested, their tough rinds are removed to expose the inner part. These are then chopped down into smaller pieces and are then subjected to steam cooking. Once steamed, they produce a sweet nectar which is then extracted from the fibers. This agave nectar gets fermented to produce alcohol. Once the fermented juice gets to about 5 percent alcohol, the liquid goes into distillation process wherein the liquid gets distilled twice or more to form the alcoholic spirit known as tequila.
There are four classifications of tequila – blanco, joven, reposado, and anejo.
Blanco (Silver) – this type of tequila is possibly the most common type. It comes is clear liquid. The aging of blanco tequila is around 60 days. Poorly-made blancos can give instant brain seizures. Well-made ones give off a peppery finish with the aroma and flavor of agave still present.
Joven (Gold) – this is the type of tequila often released to foreign markets. Joven is basically a blanco but with additives. Joven has a golden-like coloring which is achieved through the adding of caramel additives. The caramel additive helps reduce the harshness of the tequila that you usually find in blancos. The resulting effect of the additive however leads to getting hangovers.
Reposado (Rested) – these are tequilas that are aged for more than 60 days. Finer quality are agend in oak barrels for up to 11 months. Well-made reposados will have a lot of agave flavor but with a much smoother finish. The color of reposado tequilas will have come from their aging in oak barrels. Darker reposados are aged longer than lighter reposados.
Anejo (Aged) – these are tequilas that are aged for 2 to 6 years in wooden barrels. Despite being aged, they still possess the hot finish tequilas are known for, albeit a much smoother finish. Anejo tequilas are like the cognac of brandies.