Let’s be honest, not all tequilas are created equal. A few things to keep in mind as you select your favorite varietal.
First things first: tequila, a distilled spirit made from the spiky blue agave plant, must be made in Jalisco (such is the case with champagne, which must be made in the region of Champagne, France to be labeled as champagne). So, you’ll want to look for a Made In Mexico label that reads: “100 percent agave” or “100 percent blue Weber agave.” The math is simple too: 100% tequila is exactly 100% pure agave and nothing else.
How to Distinguish Between 100% Agave Tequila and Mixto Tequila?
By now, it’s safe to say your college dive bar days were probably full of mixto tequila and we all remember those prettttty bad hangover mornings!
Like its name suggests, mixto tequila is “mixed” with other ingredients. In fact, many of the tequila brands on American shelves qualify as mixto, meaning only 51% of the drink needs to be an agave spirit. What about the remaining 49%? Well, it’s usually made from non-agave ingredients like molasses, a Mexican cane sugar called piloncillo or high fructose corn syrup. Generally cheaper to produce, these mixtos can also contain nasty flavorings, glycerin and thickeners.
Mixto tequila even looks different. Using a caramel coloring agent, a golden-colored mixto almost picks up an artificial yellow hue, because producers are trying to mimic the natural wood-infusion of aged tequila. And when you take a drink, these tequilas often burn on the way down.
Even sneakier? Distilleries aren’t required to label the bottle as “mixto” – this is why it’s important to look at the bottle. Okay, we know we’re repeating ourselves here, but if the label doesn’t read 100% agave tequila, you are drinking a mixto.
What else do you need to know about the real stuff?
While every brand of agave tequila has its own unique flavor profile, 100% agave offers a complex and distinct variety of tastes and smells.
No “Hidden” Ingredients
By law, mixto tequilas producers don’t have to tell you what non-agave ingredients are in their drink, so it’s hard to know what you’re sipping. On the other hand, 100% agave tequila is exactly what it claims to be.
The Morning After
While we always say to drink responsibly, pure 100% agave tequila is less likely to cause a hangover the next day.