Choosing A Top Quality Tequila

Tequila is one of the least understood of the major liquors available in the United States. It is widely imbibed but few folks understand the difference between bottom-grade tequila and the top-grade stuff. Here is a quick rundown on what you need to know to get the most out of your tequila drinking. Salud!

Understand the basic division - All tequilas are divided into one of two groups – agave or mixto. There are a lot of technicalities involved in these two denominations but for all intents and purposes, the former variety is solely made from the agave plant while the latter has various sugars and other adulterants added during the distillation process. Purists – who want the highest-grade tequila – always look for a label that states that the liquor is only made from “100% agave azul.”

Gain a little more knowledge – Once you know to look for the “agave azul” lable – by the way, that's “blue agave” in English – the connoisseur should also understand that there are various subtypes within these top-quality tequilas. The most commonly heard terms are:

  • Silver or Gold– Both are almost always a mixto, these two low-grade mixtures are the tequilas of choice for making those “frozen concoctions that help me hang on.” In short, great for margaritas – especially after you have had a couple – but for nothing more.
  • Reposado - Resposado (rested) tequilas are stored in bourbon or oak barrels to be aged for two to nine months The aging not only imparts a somewhat “woody” or “smoky” taste to the tequila but also the tequila takes away some of the raw bite and intense flavor down of the natural agave product.
  • Añejo – After a year of aging, any tequilas will sport this name but almost all of them sport a complex and smooth taste that is just right for sipping. It is with this type of tequila that you should start your journey and then work your way on down the line.
  • Extra Añejo – The best of the best but also the most costly. Extra anejo tequilas are for those who like to sip their liquor. Indeed, it is a waste to simply “shoot” these types of tequilas. Instead, they should be enjoyed as an aperitif or after-dinner drink.

Finding the right top quality tequila to suit your palette is a delicate thing. Our experts at Skytop Wine and Liquors can help you in the process. Come in and pick our brains – we like nothing better than to be tested on our knowledge of alcohol and how it improves the human condition. We can be found online at or reached directly at 315.446.6710.