What is Reposado Tequila?
You might consider yourself a tequila fan, but there’s a lot to know about this beloved Mexican spirit. If someone were to ask you what is reposado tequila, would you know the answer? The truth is many people know what they know and like what they like, but there’s so much more out there. You can explore many types of tequila and many ways to enjoy them, including reposado. Learn all about it here along with our top picks of the best reposados around.
What is Tequila?
Tequila is an alcoholic spirit that’s distilled with at least 51% agave and no more than 49% sugar. It gets bottled anywhere from 35% to 55% ABV (alcohol by volume), but in the US it must be sold with at least 40% ABV.
By law, tequila comes from the Blue Weber agave plant of five Mexican states: Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit or Tamaulipas. The vast majority of tequila is produced and exported in Jalisco, with most tequila distilleries being located in the highland and lowland regions of the state. You’ll find highlands tequilas have a natural sweetness with mineral, fruit, and floral notes. Those from the lowlands are earthy, spicy, and herbaceous.
Aging is key to tequila production and is usually a sign of quality. The color and wood character intensity of the spirit will depend on how long it has aged in oak.
TEQUILA PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION
Once the Blue Weber agave plant grows, ripens, and matures, it takes another 8-12 years to produce the nectar needed for tequila. Farmers harvest the plants and cut off the outer leaves so that just the agave hearts (piñas) are left. The piñas slow-cook for 12-48 hours and are crushed so the juice can be extracted. At this point, the juice is sometimes mixed with sugar which creates “mixto” tequila. Otherwise, it’s mixed with water and yeast, then left to ferment. Finally, it gets twice-distilled and diluted, then bottled or aged in oak barrels depending on the type of tequila.
Reposado, or “rested”, tequila is typically bottled after aging in wooden (often oak) barrels or tanks for 2-6 months, but it can be up to a year. In fact, the liquid often sits in American oak casks that held whiskey at one time. The aging process creates a soft, distinct flavor while making the original, harsher agave notes more palatable and fully appreciated.
If you talk to true tequila lovers, you might find many identify as “repo drinkers”.
REPOSADO TEQUILA TASTE, AROMA, AND COLOR
The reposado spirit usually has a dark golden color, notes of caramel and honey, and a warm, toasty finish. Reposados are unique since they hold tequila’s classic flavors of citrus and spice and combine the complexity of chocolate, chili, cinnamon and vanilla.
Other Types of Tequila
Aside from reposado tequila, there are four other types with distinct characteristics:
- Plata/silver/white/blanco tequila takes on the sweetness of Blue Weber agave. It’s unaged or aged in stainless steel or neutral oak barrels for under two months.
- Joven/gold/oro tequila is blended unaged silver with aged or extra-aged tequila, and sometimes caramel coloring, oak extract, or sugar syrup. This type is typically less expensive and more common in cocktails than other types of the spirit.
- Añejo tequila is aged for anywhere from one year to less than three years in oak barrels that contain up to 600 liters. This type of tequila turns out dark, rich, and amber in color and rich, smooth, and complex in flavor.
- Extra/ultra añejo was created in 2006 so is a relatively new tequila type. It’s aged for at least three years in oak barrels and comes out with a peatiness and caramel flavor much like scotch.
How to Enjoy Reposado Tequila
If you’re looking to sit back and enjoy a quality reposado, you have a few options. Many can hold their own when it comes to mixing in tequila cocktails since they don’t detract from other fruit flavors or syrups. In fact, they can even enhance or add sophistication to them. Try a reposado in a margarita or tequila ginger highball.
On the other hand, some reposados let the agave and sweet and spicy barrel flavors come through and are best for sipping neat or on the rocks.
When it comes to food, try a light reposado with your meal. If you’re looking for a great dessert pairing, opt for a more aged bottle.
The Best Reposado Tequilas
Reposados can be tricky to produce well since the process of balancing the rich barrel characteristics with cooked agave notes is complicated. Fear not, though, as we’ve done the legwork for you and come up with a list of the best reposados out there.
GRAN DOVEJO REPOSADO
Gran Dovejo Reposado is aged from 6-12 months in American white oak barrels. When – and only when – the body, aroma, and taste standards of the brand’s master distiller are met, it gets bottled. As a complex, agave-forward, oaky and spicy reposado, this one’s a wonderful way to slowly sip the day away rather than mix into a cocktail.
Azuñia Reposado is an organic, 100% Blue Weber agave tequila aged in American oak barrels for up to eight months. It comes with a slight agave scent along with oak, butterscotch, caramel, and smokiness for a smooth, vanilla finish. This reposado is pretty versatile and works well neat or in cocktails like a tequila mule.
VUELO DEL AVIADOR GRAN RESERVA REPOSADO
Vuelo Del Aviador Gran Reserva Reposado is aged in Napa Valley red wine barrels – both American and French oak – for nine months. Offering a complex and rich finish much like a fine brandy, this reposado comes with cherry oak, anise, toasted agave, and vanilla scents and tastes of apples and honey. It gets spicier and drier as the oak notes linger in your mouth.
TEQUILA OCHO REPOSADO
Made with 100% Blue Weber agave and artisanal production methods, Tequila Ocho Reposado is aged in ex-American Whiskey barrels for just over two months. It’s mild and fruity with green agave, mint and tropical notes along with vanilla and cream. The spirit finishes dry but rich, leaving tannins and spices on the palate.
Light and smooth CaliFino Reposado is made with 100% Blue Weber agave and aged for 12 months in American Oak. It’s a light-amber, golden color and smells fresh and oaky from the barrel. Ideal neat, on the rocks, or in cocktails, you’ll get notes of vanilla and buttery spice with a creamy honey finish.
OCTAVIO REPOSADO CRISTALINO
This unique, smooth and slightly sweet and smoky small-batch reposado from Octavio is made from 100% Blue Weber agave and aged in oak barrels for 5-6 months. Great as a sipping tequila, it finishes smooth and clean with Brazilian aromas of wood and cooked agave.