Distiller’s Reposado Tequila Guide: Terms, Brands and RecommendationsBy Stephanie Moreno
Tequila’s popularity has soared worldwide, especially in its largest market, the United States. In fact, in 2022 agave spirits were second only to vodka in the US with sales revenue of $6 billion dollars. Those numbers seem to only be increasing so it’s high time to make sure you’re caught up on your tequila terminology.
Tequila aficionados tend to discuss unaged blanco tequilas with reverence. At the same time, whiskey drinkers naturally take to aged tequilas like añejo and extra añejo due to their longer barrel aging. As a result, reposado tequila is often ignored. But there is a wide world of reposado tequilas out there with a range of flavors to discover. Our reposado tequila guide puts a spotlight on this Mexican spirit so you can be prepared for your next purchase.
We’ll begin with a quick primer on the tequila category itself. Tequila can only be made in designated areas in the following states of Mexico: Jalisco, Nayarit, Guanajuato, Michoacán and Tamaulipas. All tequilas are made with Blue Weber agave, a specific agave type from the dozens that grow in Mexico.
Also, there are two categories of tequila: 100% agave tequila and mixto tequila which requires just 51% agave. The former is considered the more pure tequila expression by tequila drinkers. Thankfully the market has directed producers to focus on 100% agave tequilas over mixtos in recent years.
Importantly, mixto tequilas are not labeled as such. Therefore, anytime you are making a purchase, make sure to look for “100% agave azul,” or words to that effect. If you don’t see that statement, put the bottle down and keep looking.
Reposado Tequila Defined
Reposado tequila is one of the main styles of tequila. The translation for reposado is “rested,” and that should help you to remember that the time in the barrel is brief — a minimum of two months up to 12 months. This light barrel influence makes reposado tequilas a versatile spirit which works for sipping or mixing.
For comparison, the other tequila styles to know are blanco (also called silver or plata), añejo, and extra añejo. Blanco tequila is typically unaged, but it can spend up to two months in a barrel. Meanwhile, añejos are aged for at least one year, and extra añejos are aged for at least three years.
Incidentally, cristalino tequila is a new style in which barrel-aged tequila is filtered before bottling for a clear appearance. There isn’t a regulated time in barrel for cristalino tequila. But if the tequila has met the requirements to be a reposado, añejo, or extra añejo tequila, you’ll see that designation on the label as well.
Like other matured spirits, the barrel selected for reposado tequila will make a huge impact on the final product. Since bourbon producers are only allowed to use new, charred oak barrels for maturation, there’s a steady supply of used barrels to purchase. As a result, the most common barrel type in tequila production are used bourbon barrels. Of course, other whiskey barrels have been used for tequila maturation including single malt Scotch whisky.
Beyond whiskey, tequila producers have branched out with other barrel types such as wine and sherry as well as spirits like cognac and rum. Naturally, virgin or unused barrels have also been used. Additionally, while American oak is the most typical wood used, other woods have been used. Producers have been experimenting with French, Hungarian, and Japanese oak as well as other woods like acacia or cherry.
American Oak Whiskey Barrels
El Tesoro Reposado: El Tesoro rests this tequila for 9-11 months in American oak ex-bourbon barrels.
La Gritona Reposado: This bottling is made with tequila which rests for 8 months in American whiskey barrels from Jack Daniel’s and Balcones Distilling.
Wine Barrel Aging
Don Julio Rosado: Added to Don Julio’s permanent portfolio in early 2023, this tequila rests for four months in ruby port wine barrels.
Tequila Mi Campo Reposado: Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir wine barrels made from French oak are used to rest the tequila for three months.
Beyond American Oak
Casa Del Sol Reposado: Cognac barrels made with French Limousin oak are used by the brand for maturation. Here, the tequila rests for a minimum of four months.
Casa Dragones Reposado Mizunara Oak: The tequila brand worked with an independent cooperage in Japan which custom-crafted the rare Japanese Mizunara oak casks.
Gran Coramino Reposado Cristalino: After resting for a few months in Eastern European oak barrels, this tequila is then transferred to Napa cabernet sauvignon barrels to finish its maturation. It’s then slow-filtered for a clear appearance.
Penta Diamante Reposado Cristalino: This tequila rests for 7 months in a mix of new and seasoned American, Hungarian and French oak barrels. Then it’s charcoal-filtered to remove its color.
How to Find Your Perfect Reposado Tequila Bottle
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