The age-old industry saying, “Vodka pays the bills,” may be up for revision as tequila is set to overtake vodka as the highest-selling spirit in 2023. Despite growing popularity and interest amongst consumers, tequila is often reduced to bar shots and taco-stand margaritas. However, the reality is that tequila is just as complex and versatile as wines and other spirits. Here is a beginner’s guide to tequila.

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What is tequila?

Tequila is a spirit made from Blue Weber agave and must be produced in specific regions designated as Appellations of Origin in Mexico. These states are Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. Otherwise, it is considered mezcal or an agave spirit. All tequila is mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila.

Tequila is made when the Blue Weber agave is harvested and slow-cooked, turning the fibrous starches of the agave into fermentable juices. The agaves are then crushed, or pressed, to separate those juices, and, with the addition of yeast, fermented in stainless steel, cement, or even wooden vats. Somewhat of an agave beer is formed, sitting at 8-10% alcohol. This liquid is then passed through a still at least twice, raising the alcohol content to around 55%, and proofed down to 40% ABV. A Blanco tequila is born. Aging in an oak barrel will come last, depending on the desired final product.

There are three main expressions of tequilas: Blanco, Reposado, and Añejo.


Blanco tequila is the purest expression of the agave. Blanco is bottled immediately after distillation or rested for no longer than two months in oak or stainless steel. The result is a clear color and fragrant grassy notes. Typical flavors of Blanco tequila are fruity and clean with citrus, floral agave, and slight crisp pepper notes.

The agave-forward finish compliments dishes that are light, acidic, and herby. Blanco pairs best with seafood such as fish tacos or ceviche.

Blanco tequila is no stranger to the cocktail, because of its versatility and approachability. When it comes to mixers, opt for tart and acidic flavors such as lime, prickly pear, or grapefruit.


Reposado, which translates to “rested”, is tequila that has been aged for a minimum of two months and up to a year in oak barrels. The resting results in a light caramel hue and complex flavor that balances agave with lasting notes of vanilla, caramel, fruits, and spices, depending on the type of barrel and time it spends there. 

The sweet and spicy flavor pairs with salty and spicy foods such as smoked or cured meats. Dishes that are grilled or charred such as carne asada tacos or pork chops will complement the Reposados’ sweet nuttiness.

Reposado can be sipped or utilized in cocktails that call for sweeter flavor pairings. For example, you can choose classic mixers like pineapple or peach juice or even creative ones like horchata and carrot juice.


Just like reposado translates to rested, añejo is derived from the Spanish word for age and vintage. Añejo tequilas are aged for a minimum of one year up to three years in wooden barrels resulting in a rich golden brown and silky yet intense flavor profile.

Añejo’s sophisticated aroma may include black cherry, herbs and spices, and light hints of vanilla, peach, almond, maple, and caramel. The rich and luxurious flavor pairs best with steaks and other juicy red meats that have also been well-marinated or sauced in strong herbs or spices. Chocolate and fudge desserts are also great pairings to complement the richness of añejo tequila.

It is best enjoyed neat and at room temperature to fully appreciate the aromas, flavor, and finish. Keep cocktails simple such as a tequila-inspired Old Fashioned or even a coffee cocktail to continue letting the añejo shine.

What is the best way to enjoy tequila?

Tequila has a vibrant cultural history and a bright future ahead as one of the fastest-growing spirits. If you’re a fan of vodka, rum, and whiskey, tequila can be enjoyed in similar ways. Look beyond the margarita and explore how drinking tequila is a unique experience with the different expressions that are available.

The beauty of this elegant spirit is that there is no wrong way to enjoy it. Next time happy hour calls your name, surround yourself with loved ones and share your new-found tequila knowledge. You just might convert a vodka drinker into an agave lover! Salud!

Author: Emilee Jones is a Certified Catador and director of sales and marketing at Tequila Corrido. With every harvest, Tequila Corrido pays homage to the tequila-making traditions and stories behind its evolution. The spirit is barrel-aged in its Guadalajara distillery and available in three expressions, Tequila Corrido Blanco, Tequila Corrido Reposado, and Tequila Corrido Añejo. Headquartered in Arizona, Tequila Corrido is available for purchase through their website and can ship to 38 states.