Cultivating this special plant takes a great deal of knowledge, skill, and care. Once the Agave has matured, the plants piña, or heart is: harvested, roasted, mashed, fermented, distilled, and aged in oak or maple barrels (with the exception of the Blanco and Joven varieties.
The length of the aging period determines the type of tequila produced. There are 5 classifications of tequila:
5. Extra Añejo
Joven is a mix of Blanco and either Reposado or Añejo tequila, giving it a golden color and softening the tequila flavor. Blanco (or silver) is a clear tequila that is not aged at all, but bottled after distillation. Tequila that is aged in wood barrels develops an amber color. Reposado tequilas are aged anywhere from two months to one year. Añejo is aged between one and 3 years; while Extra Añejo is aged for at least three year.
Tequila is a product with a denomination of origin, meaning the only place in the world this exceptional drink can be crafted is a five state region in central Mexico. However, there are two distinct categories that define the quality of tequila. Some tequilas are made from a mixture of 51% and 49% other sugars, reducing cost – and sacrificing taste. Additives such as oak extracts, glycerin, sucrose, and caramel flavoring are permissible and do not have to be identified on the product labels.
Visit the Tequila Regulatory Council's website to learn more about the origins of tequila and the different classifications.