Tequila is made from distilling fermented blue agave (a plant native to Mexico) juice. For tequila to be called tequila, it must come from one of the five tequila producing states in Mexico: Jalisco, Michoacan, Guanajuato, Nayarit and Tamaulipas.
There are two main categories of tequila: mixto and 100% blue agave.
Mixto Tequila must be made from a mash with no less than 51% of the blue agave plant. The rest of the mash can come from other sources of sugar. It’s important to note that mixto tequila won’t necessarily be labeled ‘mixto’ – it will simply be labeled tequila.
100% blue agave tequila is considered the best quality tequila on the market and it must be 100% made from the blue agave plant. The five different types of 100% blue agave tequila indicate how long the liquid has been aged in wood.
Blanco is aged for less than 60 days and is white in color.
Joven or gold tequila is similar to blanco tequila in that it isn’t really aged, its golden color generally comes from the addition of caramel as opposed to barrel aging.
Reposado is aged between 60 days to one year and is yellow in color. Caramel may be added, but it is still considered a better quality tequila than joven.
Anejo must be aged for a minimum of one year and is gold in color. Caramel may also be added but some of its color will come from the barrel aging.
Extra-anejo is considered the best quality tequila. It must be aged for a minimum of 3 years. Gold in color, this tequila is often compared to a fine French Cognac.