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Not sure how tequila categories work? Here's your guide. Get yourself to expert level by browsing these 10 quintessential (and tasty) ambassadors of really good tequila.
From: Esquire US
Awhile back, we took an hour out of a busy Wednesday to sit at a table covered with little stemmed glasses of tequila. Our entirely altruistic purpose: to identify perfect examples of each of the eight types of quality—that is, 100 percent agave—tequila. It comes in four official aging categories, which you'll find on the label: blanco, reposado, añejo, and the relatively new extra añejo.
There are also two unofficial styles: highland and lowland. The first, made from agaves grown in the volcanic uplands of Mexico, tends to be brighter and more acidic, with notes of olive brine and green pepper. The second, from the plateau around Guadalajara, is generally fruitier, with a whiff of tropical funk.
Here, then, are eight benchmark tequilas to represent every category. (What? There are 10? Okay, so we had a hard time narrowing them down.)
Blanco tequilas can rest in any sort of container for up to 60 days before bottling.
Avion: Smooth and spicy
Arette Blanco Suave: Fruity and floral
Reposado tequilas are aged 60 days to a year. This is our favorite category: The oak-aging mellows reposados without killing the agave, as often happens with añejos.
Chinaco: Smooth and buttery with a hint of pine
Gran Centenario: Highland spice meets lowland funk
Partida: Hints of leather and pimento
Herradura: Citrusy, with lemon, honey, and vanilla
Añejo tequilas are aged one to three years in oak barrels (usually old bourbon ones).
Chinaco: Knife-edged balance between lovely oaky richness and wild agave funk
Casa Noble: Aged in French white oak barrels
Extra añejo tequilas are aged more than three years in oak barrels (sometimes with very old tequila blended in).
Gran Centenario Leyenda:Like incense—really good incense
Cabo Uno: Layers of vanilla and upfront spice easing into a mellow finish
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