Qualities and Categories:
The better quality tequilas are distilled exclusively from blue agaves. These products will indicate on the label they are 100% agave. Lesser in quality are the mixtos, a term that never appears on the label. These must be distilled from at least 51% blue agave to be called tequila, but may contain up to 49% of other sugars. Both 100% agave spirits and mixtos are available as blancos & reposados. A reposado mixto generally has a significantly higher proportion of blue agave than 51%. However, when in doubt, just look for one that states it is 100% agave based. Gold tequilas are always mixtos and often have the minimum proportion of agave allowed by law.
Plata, Blanco, White or Silver: Clear, unmatured, uncolored tequila reduced after distillation into drinking strength and bottled quickly.
Gold or Oro: Unmatured, usually colored and flavored with caramel and other additives. Not to be confused with matured tequila.
Reposado or Rested: Matured for at least 2 and up to 12 months in large or small barrels made from American or French oak, with a pale golden tone, mellow character, and a fine agave taste.
Añejo or Aged: Matured for at least a year in oak barrels with a maximum capacity of 160 gallons – usually former bourbon or sometimes cognac barrels – this is somewhat deeper gold in tone, with a more balanced, mellow character. Complex aromas usually include vanilla and spicy notes.
Extra Añejo or Ultra-Aged: A relatively new and elite category, matured for at least three years in oak barrels with a maximum capacity of 160 gallons. Appropriately dark, complex and long, previously often marketed as reserva.
A distinct and complex silver tequila actually worthy of sipping, not just for mixing or shooting. Savory in taste, like a sweet olive brine and a lot of citrus, pineapple and lemons. The carmelization of the slow roasted agave yields a wonderful bouquet and treats without the waxy fibrous bitter you get from many of the large producers that rush the process. Finish is medium long and deadly smooth with a slightly sweet, dried citrus ending.
Don Cenobia Sauza purchased an old mezcal distillery in 1873 that he renamed La Perseverancia. It is now a modern production facility where agave hearts are cooked in just eight hours and then fermented in large stainless-steel tanks. The Hornitos line features 100% Blue Agave tequilas. This Reposado is more than fairly priced, featuring a clean, fruity profile with bit of oak on the finish. A Best Buy.
Aged in American oak for 11 months, this is one of the most respecting offerings of Tequila within Mexico. The longer resting period in comparison to many other reposados allows for a rather deep amber color and added complexity. Earthy in style, with fruitiness overshadowed by spice, smoke and caramel. An excellent example of a lowland tequila.
This tequila house has built up an impressive reputation with 100% agave products which are triple distilled. The flagship Añejo Barrel Select was rested in American oak for 18 months. Rich amber in color, the Select features a very convincing mellowness and finely spiced and ripe fruity notes with a subtle woody finish.
The sotol plant is a specialty originating in the Chihuahua dessert in northern Mexico where it has been cultivated by native tribes for centuries. This agave variety takes 15 years to mature. The hearts are cooked for three days in ceramic ovens. This reposado is aged in used French oak casks for six months, producing a pleasant and mild mezcal. A beautiful, spicy and strong aroma of agaves permeates the nose; the taste is smoky and of roasted earth.