An ultra-premium anejo Tequila. Its intense amber color and layered aromas are a result of an extended period of aging. Its distinctive decanter, molded and decorated by Mazahua natives, a group of local indigenous artisans, represents the evolution of Tequila from the earth.
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For anyone hoping to explore the many intricacies amidst the tequila market, it’s essential to understand the nuances between the different categories: gold and silver are the most obvious, but there are also reposados, añejo and extra añejo. Each style has its own process and flavor, but the añejo varieties are considered the spirit’s richest form. Añejo tequilas are more mature and complex than other tequila expressions; they are barrel-aged for at least 1-3 years and often feature robust flavor profiles that include notes of bright orange, dried fruit and toasty vanilla; as such, a premium añejo is meant to be sipped and savored like a fine scotch.
Añejo is a Spanish adjective meaning “mature” when used to describe a tequila or a mezcal; the word has roots in the Latin adjective “anniculus,” which translates to “one year old.” The term impeccably fits the añejo tequila category. Mexico’s Tequila Regulatory Council (TRC), which sets the standards for the tequila industry, requires that añejo tequila is aged for a minimum of one year in oak barrels, which lends to the spirit’s signature amber color and complex flavors. Don’t take the names on the label lightly — the Mexican government owns the rights to tequila and supervises and requires strict compliance to the regulations required of the different tequila expressions.
While many añejo tequila connoisseurs prefer to sip the rich spirit slowly sans ice or other mixers, you do have some options that pair well. Añejo tequilas are aged at least a year in wooden barrels, and as such, have a strong flavor that can easily overpower a mixed beverage — lean on simple, classic ingredients like lime, orange, grapefruit and other equally bright citrus juices and sodas; or, consider muddling a bold and spicy jalapeno with a bit of sugar and lime. Because of its aged quality, añejo tequilas often substitute well in popular bourbon or whiskey cocktails such as an Añejo Old Fashioned or an Añejo Sour.
Any grocery store that sells liquor will carry the more common types of tequila, but you will likely need to patronize your local craft liquor store to find premium tequila varieties like añejos and extra añejos (don’t forget — Drizly lets you see what tequilas are in stock near you). As you survey the tequilas available locally, don’t waste your money on anything aged for too long as the oak flavor may overpower the otherwise rich flavors; notably, the minimum aging time for extra añejo is three years though some are aged past ten years. Silver and gold tequilas are generally very affordable, whereas the premium varieties can easily surpass $40 per bottle.