National Tequila Day Primer+Recipe

What’s the Difference Between Gold and Silver?

Silver and gold tequilas are two of the five different types of tequila and what you will most likely encounter the most. Silver tequila is clear in color and usually not aged, although it can be aged up to 60 days. Gold tequila is gold in color because flavorings have been added before it was bottled. Gold tequila is also usually not aged.

Other names for silver tequila are blanco or white tequila. Gold tequila is also called joven tequila. Silver tequilas typically have a smoother taste than gold tequilas. Silver tequilas can be used for shots or mixed drinks, whereas gold tequilas usually don’t have the smooth taste required for shots.

Silver and gold tequilas tend to be the lowest-quality tequilas. Tequila is made from the blue agave plant and must contain at least 51 percent blue agave. Silver tequila provides the purest blue agave taste. Rested tequila is tequila that has been aged in a barrel for at least two months, but often for three to nine months.

I’m Confused, Give it to me Straight

Here is a list of all types of tequila, we even throw in a video to show how it’s made.

1. Gold Tequila

Most gold tequilas get their color from the caramel coloring added to the tequila before fermentation. Watch out for brands that don’t cite “100% agave”, as those brands have added coloring and sugar to obtain the gold color. Gold tequilas are not typically aged, and usually contain only about 51% agave tequila. Sometimes 100% agave gold tequila is made by combining silver tequila and an aged tequila, such as reposado or añejo. Since quality aged tequila has a gold hue, the addition of the coloring was a marketing tactic to improve one’s perspective of cheaper brands.

We enjoyed this video, check it out.

2. Silver Tequila

Silver tequila, sometimes referred to as blanco, is rarely aged more than a couple of weeks, making it the purest form of tequila. It is often considered the best type of tequila to use in mixed drinks, and is commonly seen in margaritas.

3. Reposado

Reposado means “rested” in Spanish, and reposados rest anywhere from two months to a year before they are bottled. Reposados take on the gold hue from the barrels in which they are aged. They are typically aged in oak or white oak barrels, and the type of barrel changes the flavor of each distillery’s tequila.

4. Añejo

Añejo tequilas are aged from one to three years and are considered the best type of tequila for sipping because of their smoother flavor. Añejo means “vintage”, and they are darker than reposado tequilas.

5. Extra Añejo

Extra or ultra añejo tequilas are aged for over three years. This is a relatively new type of tequila, which got its official classification in 2005. This type of tequila is the most expensive, not only because the flavor is improved with age, but also because distilleries will only allow their best spirits to age for so long. Extra añejo tequila should be enjoyed, not shot or mixed.

Unlike the more popular tequila types, Anejo shines on the taste front.  A well-crafted Anejo will be smooth and rich with flavors of caramel, cinnamon, honey, black pepper, and vanilla along with a smokiness.  In the mouth, it will taste like a fainter, milder bourbon.  But then finishes crisp, without the typical “fire belly” that tends to accompany most bourbons.

How Should I Partake?

Tequila means different things to different people. Whether you prefer your tequila neat, shot with lime, in a Margarita, or enjoyed on the beach, it’s a spirit that’s easily enjoyed in many situations. Tequila is a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant. Mexican law regulates that tequila can only come from the state of Jalisco and must be bottled between 35 and 55 percent ABV.  When sold in the U.S., tequila must contain a minimum of 40 percent ABV.

With an incredibly varied landscape of distilleries and brands, with new labels seemingly launching overnight, it can be hard to keep up with the ever-changing state of the tequila industry. Still, in 2023, our top pick is the Tequila Ocho Plata. It is one of the best expressions of agave on the market and a gold standard for sipping tequila at its price point.

Just Tell Me Some Good Bottles

 Fortaleza Blanco Produced in the heart of Tequila, Mexico, Fortaleza Blanco Tequila packs a quality punch with notes of citrus, olives, and black pepper. The Fortaleza Blanco is also extra-proof with 40 percent ABV, making it a great pick for any celebration.

Don Julio 1942 If you enjoy a side of luxury with your tequila on the rocks, Don Julio 1942 is known as one of the most highly-rated luxury tequilas on the scene. his mix of old and modern gear, and of course, those casks, yields a smooth and flowery potion with a caramel-and-vanilla flavor, along with a salt-and-spice finish.

Casamigos Blanco You may be skeptical of celebrity-founded tequila, is it really worth the hype? Whether you’re a fan of actor and co-founder George Clooney or not, tequila aficionados say Casamigos is a safe bet. Each batch is distilled for a minimum of two months in stainless steel barrels and delivers a nice mix of sweet agave, light citrus, and just a hint of vanilla.

Tequila Ocho Plata If you’re looking for an agave-centric tequila that shines through in margaritas but doesn’t overpower, Tequila Ocho Plata is a top choice. The first brand of tequila to designate both the year produced and the field from which the agave was taken, Tequila Ocho’s unaged expression is popular among bartenders from all over when it comes to making the classic margarita.

Herradura Silver With hints of vanilla and citrus that blend with the distinct flavor of sweet agave, this tequila packs a punch with no lingering aftertaste. According to reviewers, it even tastes better the longer it sits out. Herradura Blanco tequila is barrel-aged for 45 days—which goes beyond the industry standard for blanco tequilas—giving subtle oak and vanilla notes, which mesh well with Cointreau or agave syrup.

Give Me a Recipe to Impress!

The Paloma is delicious, refreshing, and much simpler to make than the Margarita. With so few ingredients—tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda—Palomas are hard to mess up. Margaritas can be transcendent when made properly but, when ordering one in the wild, you have a greater risk of getting a pint-sized glass filled with day-glow sour mix and an imbalanced drink. When you’re looking for a refreshing cocktail that will hit all the right notes in less than two shakes, the Paloma’s three-ingredient highball built directly in the glass is a sure thing.

The Paloma

  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • Grapefruit soda, chilled, to top
  • Garnish: lime wheel
  • Garnish: salt rim (optional)

The Steps

  1. Rub a lime wedge around the edge of a highball glass, and dip the rim in salt (optional).
  2. Add the tequila and lime juice to the glass, and fill with ice.
  3. Top with grapefruit soda, and stir briefly and gently to combine.
  4. Garnish with a lime wheel.

As bartenders continue to embrace fresh juice in their cocktails, it has become increasingly common to use fresh grapefruit juice in place of grapefruit soda. If you want to go that route, you can complement the juice with unflavored sparkling water to achieve the necessary bubbly effect.

Fair warning, this combination yields a much drier cocktail, as grapefruit soda can be quite sweet. You can add a little simple syrup to mix, but then you’re veering further away from the simplicity of this drink. Grapefruit soda is the more traditional choice when making Palomas.

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