Tequila has been on a tear in recent years. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, the category has grown by 140 percent in the U.S. since 2002, with over 17 million cases sold in 2017 alone. Particularly popular are premium offerings, such as Tequila Bribon, which was created by Palm Bay International in partnership with Casa Don Roberto. Don Roberto is one of the top tequila producers in Mexico, working with the La Purisima distillery in the town of Tequila to produce Bribon.
The history of tequila dates back to the Aztecs, but the spirit they were drinking was pulque, a drink made from the fermented sap of the agave plant. It wasn’t until the 1500s that the Spanish started to distill mezcal, and modern tequila was born in the mid-1700s.
There are five different classifications of tequila available today. All can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in a variety of cocktails.
Here is everything you need to know about all the types of tequila, and how this incredibly popular Mexican spirit can be enjoyed.
It Begins With Production
To qualify as tequila, the spirit must be distilled in one of five regions in Mexico, the best known of which is Jalisco. Technically, tequila is a form of mezcal, but it does not have the smoky flavor commonly associated with that spirit.
Like mezcal, tequila is agave-based. It can be either mixto (51 percent blue agave, 49 percent other sugars – sort of like a blended Scotch), or the much higher-quality, 100 percent agave version. Bribon Tequila is made from seven to 10 year old agave that has been cooked for 18 hours at the distillery. The juice from the shredded agave is fermented using Don Roberto’s proprietary strain of yeast. Finally, the liquid is distilled twice in both pot and column stills.
Tequila’s Classifications Are All in the Aging
The five official classifications of tequila are determined by the time the tequila spends aging in barrels. Blanco is un-aged tequila that is bottled shortly after distillation, although it can be kept in stainless steel tanks for a few weeks before bottling. Joven is blanco tequila that is either blended with a little bit of aged tequila or aged for just a few weeks before bottling. Reposado is aged for between 60 and 364 days (less than one year). Anejo is aged for at least one year, but less than three years. And extra anejo, the most recently added classification, is aged for at least three years.
Sometimes There’s Barrel Aging
The most commonly used barrels for aging tequila are American and French oak, but other types are used as well to impart different flavors into the tequila as it rests. These include bourbon, Cognac, wine, and sherry casks.
As the tequila sits in a barrel, it cycles in and out of the wood, picking up color and flavor. That’s why aged tequilas are amber or golden, while blanco is clear.
A Full Spectrum of Flavors
Tequila’s flavor is largely affected by how it is distilled and how long it spends aging in a barrel. Blanco is typically agave-forward, with notes of citrus and pepper. Reposado mellows as it ages, and adds notes of oak and vanilla to the agave palate. Anejo takes this flavor profile even further, with strong notes of caramel, oak, and toffee that still allow the sweet, peppery agave that is the backbone of tequila to shine through.
Use in Cocktails
Tequila in all its forms can be used in a variety of cocktails. Blanco is generally used in Margaritas and other light, citrusy drinks. Reposado adds the oak and vanilla from the time it has spent in barrels, so it is better used in heavier cocktails, although it will perform very well in a Margarita as well. And anejo tequila is often employed as a whiskey substitute in drinks like a Tequila Old Fashioned or Tequila Manhattan.
Blood Orange Cinnamon Margarita Recipe
This sweet and spicy twist on the classic Margarita is perfect for summer sipping or for fall lounging. The original recipe calls for Bribon Tequila Blanco, but substituting in Bribon Tequila Reposado gives the drink deep vanilla notes.
2 ounces Bribon Tequila Reposado
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
3/4 ounce fresh blood orange juice
3/4 ounce cinnamon syrup
1 blood orange slice
Add all the ingredients to a shaker. Add ice and shake to chill. Strain over fresh ice into a Margarita glass. Garnish with a blood orange slice.
El Diablo Recipe
This refreshing cocktail is invigorating on the senses and is perfect for fans of the Moscow Mule.
2 ounces Bribon Tequila Blanco
1/2 ounce crème de cassis
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
2–3 ounces ginger beer
Combine all ingredients, except ginger beer, and shake. Fine-strain into an ice-filled Collins glass, top with ginger beer, and garnish with a strawberry and lemon wedge.