Tequila is one of the fastest-growing spirits in the U.S., with America consuming even more than they do in its homeland of Mexico. The biggest growth is in the premium and super-premium categories, as drinkers discover the pleasure of sipping rather than slamming good tequila. Tequila is in fact a type of mezcal, but one that has a specific “domain of origin” status and which must be made from a single species of agave, the blue agave. Tequila must be made in certain designated areas in Mexico, the biggest being the state of Jalisco, where the town of Tequila is located. Rack “tequila” must contain at least 51% blue agave sugars, and the remainder can be just about anything, including corn syrup. However, quality tequila will state on the bottle that it is made from 100% blue agave. Anything less than this (think Cuervo Gold) is called a mixto. Within Mexico, tequila can be bottled at anything from 62 to 110 proof, but within the U.S. it must be at least 80 proof. Blanco (silver or white) tequila is sold unaged, reposado tequila must be aged at least two months in white oak barrels, and añejo (aged) tequila are aged for twelve months minimum. Finally, extra añejo must be aged for at least three years. A new variety of tequila, generally called cristalino, is aged tequila that has been filtered to remove color, giving it the appearance of a blanco but the flavor of an añejo.

Top Tequila Posts:

Understanding the Different Styles of Tequila
A Visit to Casa Herradura
A Visit to the Don Julio Tequila Distillery

Review: Tanteo Flavored Tequilas (2009)

By Christopher Null | June 18, 2009 |

Thanks to new Mexican legislation, flavored tequilas continue to arrive, and Tanteo has two of the most intriguing concoctions we’ve seen yet (plus one already-familiar infusion). All 100% agave, these three tequilas add natural flavors to an 80 proof base, with curious results. All appear to use unaged blanco tequila as the starting point: Though…

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Review: Oro de Oaxaca Mezcal

By Christopher Null | June 16, 2009 |

Nothing about Oro de Oaxaca Mezcal screams “premium.” It’s got a cheap bottle (with plastic cap), primary-color logo, and mystery bag of “chile” attached to the neck (more on that in a moment)… and of course it’s also got a worm sunken to the bottom of the bottle. Ignore all that and tuck into a…

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Review: Casa Noble Tequila, Complete Lineup (2009)

By Christopher Null | June 15, 2009 |

If nothing else, Casa Noble wins a prize for its gorgeous bottle design. Good thing for us: The company’s tequila — 100% blue agave, triple distilled to 80 proof, and (save the blanco) aged in French oak barrels. All are worth your consideration — all equally good in their own ways. Casa Noble Crystal (Blanco)…

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Review: Maria Mezcal Anejo

By Christopher Null | June 3, 2009 |

Mezcalapalooza continues with this mezcal, a 100% agave anejo, aged one year in oak, and bottled at 80 proof, sans worm or other insect. Maria’s “Mezcal de Oaxaca” is quite unique. Though it offers traditional aromas of smoke laced with agave, the body is something else. Tart like a cherry, it is both sweet and…

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Review: Tequila Ocho Single Estate Reposado 2009

By Christopher Null | June 1, 2009 |

When last we visited Tequila Ocho we sampled the bottler’s 2008 and 2009 “single estate” tequilas, comparing two silver tequilas side by side. Today we turn to the 2009 reposado expression. Also from the Rancho Las Pomez Estate, this reposado is aged for 8 weeks and 8 days (which, I guess, is the same as…

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Review: Mijes Mezcal Joven

By Christopher Null | May 27, 2009 |

No other way to put it: Mijes’ (also known as Mixes on some bottles, see below) mezcal bottles are unmistakeably eye-catching, shaped vaguely like a drunken snail or perhaps a brain that’s been run over by a truck. Inside, Mijes’ premium joven (a blend of new and old spirit, filtered back to clear) mezcal/mescal (100%…

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Review: Scorpion Mezcal – Silver, Reposado, and Anejo 1 Year Old

By Christopher Null | May 23, 2009 |

Mezcal (aka mescal) gets quite the rap. To set you straight, mezcal is made from a number of different types of agave (whereas tequila is only blue agave). The agave (or maguey) is roasted in a wood-fired pit for several days (whereas with tequila the agave is generally cooked in ovens), then fermented — a…

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Review: Gran Centenario Leyenda Extra Anejo Tequila

By Christopher Null | May 17, 2009 |

Reportedly the first ever “extra anejo tequila” — a new designation recently allowed under Mexican law, established in 2006 for tequilas aged three years or longer — commercially released (others have since followed), Gran Centenario’s Leyenda is as dark a tequila as I’ve ever seen. The oak-brown color is seriously misleading, for this is as…

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Review: Corzo Silver Tequila

By Christopher Null | May 15, 2009 |

Fragrant with light evergreen notes, Corzo is a delicate, lovely blanco tequila (100% agave, of course) that deserves top-shelf attention. Most blancos are heavy with vegetal agave notes — which can be pleasant but are often overpowering and sometimes harsh. Corzo is refined, but also full of flavor. It’s a bit minty, a bit like…

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Review: Tequila Tierras, Complete Lineup

By Christopher Null | May 5, 2009 |

One last look at tequila before this year’s Cinco de Mayo fades into the history books. This one a new brand in the States, Tierras. Staking its claim as the first USDA Organic tequila available in the U.S. — although 4 Copas is also organic, it’s not USDA certified to that effect — Tierras comes…

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