There are main three types of tequila: blanco, reposado and anejo, each with its own unique and distinctive flavor and quality.
Blanco, meaning white or silver, is often referred to as the grandfather of all tequilas. Tequila blanco derives its name from its crystal clear color. It is bottled directly from the distillation process and does not undergo any aging. Tequila blanco is a distinctively strong spirit that usually has heavy overtones of smoke from the cooking of the agave hearts in clay pots. This is the tequila that is usually used in margaritas or other blended drinks.
Reposado, meaning rested, is unmistakably flavorful because it enjoys a process of aging in oak barrels, but only for a period of two months. Reposado tequilas are intense spirits with subtle hints of exotic fruits, agave and slight wood aromas. This tequila is recommended straight or with salt and lemon or lime.
Anejo, meaning aged, is truly the finest of the three varieties of tequila. Anejo tequila is taken after the distillation process and rested in small quantities in white oak barrels for a period of at least one year. When the aging process is complete, the tequila is filtered and its alcohol content is brought up to 38 or 40% before bottling.
Just to complicate things further, there are two further distinctions that need to be explained. Tequila can either be labeled as “blended” or as “100% agave”. In blended tequila, a minimum of 51% of the fermentable sugar is derived from agave, with the balance made up by a variety of other sugars, such as molasses. Blended tequila can be blanco (silver) or oro (gold). The gold has certain characteristics of wood aging but these are generally derived from adding colorings and flavorings, such as caramel, and not through authentic aging.
The 100% agave tequila is that in which fermentable sugars are derived entirely from the agave tequilana weber azul or blue agave plant. Tequila 100% agave can be found in all three types: blanco, reposado and anejo and is truly the finest quality available.