Drinking with Bwog: A Teachable Tequila Moment

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One tequila, two tequila, three tequila...

Every week The Columbia Bartending Agency provides protips on how to get your crunk on with greater style, precision, and knowledge. In preparation for the final weekend before finals sink their fangs your our soul, learn something about your pal, tequila.

Although the next few weeks will be dominated by information overload, we thought it would be useful to cram something useful in your noggins on top of all that academic fluff, especially when you start planning your post-finals blackout (it’s okay, we won’t tell Mom). Today, we will focus on a classic Mexican liquor—tequila!

What the hell is an agave?

The agave plant is the basis of all products that can be called tequila. The agave plant is mostly grown in Mexico, usually growing at high altitudes in rich soil supplemented by volcanic ash. Many tequila brands and types will highlight their high agave content (low-end Jose Cuervo, one of the United State’s most popular brands, simply boasts “made with blue agave”). 100% agave tequila is certainly more authentic and pricier than “mixto” variants (those having at least 51% agave content). However, higher agave content does not necessarily make tequila more alcoholic. All tequila products hover in the range of 35% to 50% alcohol by volume (70 to 100 proof). Some tequila makers will dilute the drink’s alcoholic content by adding water.

There is a lot of terminology attached to tequila variants. Here is a simple breakdown of the most common classifications:


This type of tequila is the agave plant in its purest form. It is colorless and typically un-aged. This tequila is still sweet, like all others, since much of the sugar content comes from the agave plant itself. The smoothest silver tequila will be aged for a brief amount of time.


Although common sense may teach you that gold is better than silver, this is not necessarily the case for tequila. Gold tequila is usually mixto and un-aged, with additive coloring and flavorings. This type is very commonly used for mixed drinks. A few types of gold are 100% agave, accomplished by mixing aged and un-aged tequila.

The rest of the fancy stuff:

Reposado (“Relaxed”): aged in oak barrells between two and eleven months; usually gold in color

Añejo (“Aged”): aged in oak barrels (limited to 600 liters) at least one year, further building complexity; usually amber

Extra Añejo (“Extra Aged”): aged in oak barrels at least three years

We hope that this has sufficiently developed your cultural capital! Maybe now you’ll think twice before jumping on the cheapest bottle at the local liquor store. Maybe.

Tequila line-up via wikimedia.

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  1. and....  

    why would my common sense tell me that silver is better than gold, when 1st place gets a gold medal and second place gets a silver medal?

  2. Er...

    There obviously aren't that many ways to break down the various types of tequila, but maybe try adding just a bit more to your (unattributed) source material next time?

  3. Anonymous

    Maybe a little less w/ the plagiarism next time? Compare the graf on silver tequilas to the third hit on Google for tequila mixto.

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