Psst, I have a secret.

I love tequila.

Now I know what you are thinking. “Isn’t that the stuff that is cheap and burns your throat?” Well yes and maybe, it just depends on the type of tequila. And sometimes that burn can be rather enjoyable.

For those of you that decided to continue reading this post, let me tell you a little bit about tequila as there certainly can be some misconceptions about this wonderful elixir. Most of the tequila that lines my shelf comes from the Mexican state of Jalisco, in Western Central Mexico. If you have heard of Guadalaja, you now know that you are in Jalisco. Jalisco offers both a highland and a lowland, which produce quite different types of tequila due to the weather conditions.

Without getting into a lengthly distillation process (that will come in another post), there really are four main types of tequila, depending on how long the tequila has been aged. When it comes to the aging process, oak barrels are typically used, but I have also recently enjoyed tequila that was aged in bordeaux or burgundy barrels. The burgundy barrel ends up giving a slight pinkish hue to the tequila and a floral bouquet to the nose.

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For your drinking pleasure, there are four main types of tequila:

  • Blanco – Easiest way to remember a blanco is that it is “blank” or has no color. Think of this as your clear tequila and I like to refer to this as “The Little Brother.” Many people believe that this is the cheapest form of tequila because it has only been aged between zero and 60 days; however, don’t fall for this trap. There are many excellent tasting “blanco” imposters that may actually be well-aged tequilas that have been filtered with the caramel-color removed. Think Don Julio 70 or Patron Platinum.
  • Reposado – I like to refer to reposado as “The Middle Brother.” One that you like, but one that you sometimes forget about. Reposados have been aged 60 days to one year and really bring different flavors due to the oak aging process.
  • Añejo – Ah yes, the añejo. The cooler, “Older Brother.” Aged from one to three years, with a smooth texture and a great finish. Given the aging process, añejos are usually the most complex tequilas to produce and also more expensive than its younger siblings.
  • Extra Añejo – Finally, “the Cool Uncle,” the extra añejo is quite possibly one of my favorite after-dinner drinks. Simply put, grab a brandy sniffer, pour in two ounces and grab a cigar. Aged at greater than three years and making a dent in your wallet, every tequila connoisseur must have a bottle or three in your selection.
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Another great compliment to tequila is to pair your tequila with sangrita. Just make sure that if you are at a pub, that you do not order a sangria with your tequila. You will be in a for a big surprise if you order the fruity wine. As for sangrita, there are a wide variety of recipes, some of which utilize fruit juices as the main ingredient. My homemade recipe starts off with tomato, then I add orange juice, Worchester sauce, soy sauce, grenadine and tabasco sauce. Now, I could tell you the proper measurements, but I won’t. That’s my secret.

So once the sangrita is made, I pour one shot of sangrita and one shot of tequila. Immediately proceed to drink the tequila shot, then the sangrita. Amazingly, this combination completely alters the palate and makes for a refreshing way to partake in tequila.

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If you are in the mood for a margarita, try to utilize different types of tequila, either a blanco or reposado and see if you can taste a difference. If you want to be courageous, mix in a little mezcal for a smoky flavored margarita.

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After you’ve been able to enjoy a variety of tequilas, kick back, relax and treat yourself with an Extra Añejo. You’ll thank me later.

Similar to wine tastings, finding the right tequila for either myself or one of my guests is the ultimate experience. Remember, more expensive doesn’t always mean it is better, but experiment with different types of tequila to find the right one that suits your palate. In the end, you will hopefully find a greater appreciation for tequila as it’s not just for margaritas any more.