Blue Agave plants are cultivated on plantations and take about 8-10 years to fully mature. When the mature Agave plants are ready for harvesting, manually removes the piña, which is extracted from the core of the Agave plant exactly as it has been done for centuries. Each piña weighs between 65 and 135 pounds. It takes about 17 pounds of Agave to produce 1 liter of 100% Agave Tequila.
Blanco tequila is a clear spirit that can be either 100% agave or mixto. These tequilas are aged no more 60 days in stainless steel tanks, if they are aged at all. The unaged blancos give the drinker the rawest taste of agave available and have a notable earthy flavor that is distinctly tequila. If you have not tasted a blanco, then you are missing out on the pure taste that is agave.
Joven (young) or oro (gold) tequilas are the ones that many drinkers are familiar with, particularly if you spent any time doing tequila shots in the last few decades of the 20th Century. Gold tequilas are responsible for many bad tequila experiences and were the most widely distributed in the U.S. during that time.
tequilas are aged in wood casks for a minimum of 2 months and many are aged from 3-9 months. The barrels mellow the flavors of a pure blanco and impart a soft oak flavor to the agave as well as giving the tequila its light straw color. It has become popular for distilleries to age their tequilas in used bourbon barrels, which adds another dimension to the finished taste.
Añejo tequila is "old" tequila. These tequilas are aged, often in white, French oak, or used bourbon barrels for a minimum of 1 year to produce a dark, very robust spirit. Some of the best añejos are aged between 18 months and 3 years while some of the best can spend up to 4 years in barrels. Many tequileros believe that aging longer than 4 years ruins the earthy flavor tones of the spirit.
These tequilas spend over 4 years in barrels and have a profile that rivals some of the oldest whiskies you can find. Logically, the price of these tequilas reflects their extra time in the barrel and these are ones that you will want to save for straight sipping, enjoying every second of the experience.