Tequila 101: The 5 Different Categories of Tequila

Apr 27, 2022

If you’re new to tequila, or a little confused about the differences between the types of tequila you see at your local liquor store, here’s a helpful description of the different categories of this popular spirit. 

If you’re new to tequila, or a little confused about the differences between the types of tequila you see at your local liquor store, here’s a helpful description of the different categories of this popular spirit.

First, there are two classifications of tequila: “100% agave” and “mixto.” 

It’s important to always look for the words “100% agave” on the label (on bottles of Inspiro Tequila, it’s written as “100% Puro Agave”). That’s your indication that the tequila is produced from only 100% Blue Weber Agave, without any added cane or corn sugars. 

Tequilas that are not 100% agave are known as “mixto” tequilas (because the fermentable sugar from the agave is “mixed” with other sugar), and by regulation need only contain at least 51% agave. Note that “mixto” tequilas still say “tequila” on the label, but they don’t state “100% agave” tequila.

You might have heard terms like “blanco,” “reposado,” or “añejo” to describe a style of tequila. But what exactly do those words mean? Those are categories of tequila and officially there are five of them permitted by Mexico’s Consejo Regulador del Tequila (known as the “CRT,” which is the government agency that regulates tequila).

What Are The 5 Different Categories of Tequila?

1. Tequila Blanco

A blanco tequila (sometimes called “silver” or “plata”) is typically a bright, colorless, and unaged tequila. Though you may find some blanco tequilas that are rested for up to 60 days in oak (tequila regulations allow for this). 

For example, Inspiro Tequila Luna Blanco is rested in American oak barrels for a lunar quarter to create a uniquely smooth taste and mouthfeel.

2. Tequila Joven

The word “joven” means “young” and refers to blanco tequilas blended with aged tequilas. Because of their color, this category of tequila is often known as a “gold” tequila. 

But here’s where that can get complicated. Some “gold” tequilas are actually mixtos, mixed with caramel or other additives to enhance their color. Again, always look for “100% agave” on the label!

3. Tequila Reposado

Reposado tequilas are aged in oak barrels for at least two months and no more than one year (the word “reposado” means “rested”). This is the most popular style of tequila in Mexico. Consumers in the U.S. and around the world have also increasingly embraced this type of tequila because of its subtle oak taste and wide range of flavor. Typically, reposado tequilas are aged in whiskey barrels.

4. Tequila Añejo

The root word of añejo is “año” (“year”) because this category refers to tequila that is aged for at least one year, but not more than three. 

Regulations specify that añejo tequilas can only be aged in barrels with a maximum capacity of 600 liters (reposado tequilas don’t have a similar requirement). Because of the time that this category of tequila spends in the barrel, añejo tequilas are typically a dark amber color with a taste profile that some people compare to whiskey.

5. Tequila Extra Añejo

This is the newest category of tequila – formalized by the CRT in 2006 – for tequilas that are barrel-aged for at least three years (in barrels not to exceed 600 liters). 

There isn’t a cap on the number of years that tequila can spend in the barrel – unlike some fine whiskies that might age for 20 or 30 years or more. 

Most tequila distillers will tell you though that if a tequila ages for too long, it may take on too much wood taste and lose some of the natural agave flavor. Nonetheless, there are some very good extra añejo tequilas on the market that are aged for up to 10 years.

Bonus! Tequila Cristalino

While not an official category of tequila, cristalino tequilas have become increasingly popular over recent years among people who prefer the color of a clear blanco tequila but also enjoy the flavor of aged tequilas. A cristalino tequila is an aged tequila (usually an añejo or extra añejo, though some are reposado) that has been charcoal filtered or redistilled to remove the color.

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a type of tequila to purchase!

But really, it all comes down to preference. 

Do you like a lot of oak taste in your tequila? Pick an añejo or extra añejo. Maybe you like a hint of oak. Pick out a reposado. Or perhaps you don’t want any oak taste, so choose a blanco.

The type of tequila you choose can also depend on the cocktail you are drinking, or what mood you are in at the moment. Truly, there is a style of tequila for everyone and every occasion!

Inspiro Tequila will make every occasion special, but you don’t need to save it for a special occasion!