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Whether you're enjoying shots and street tacos, savoring a poolside frozen margarita or mixing that perfect pitcher of tequila sunrise for brunch, tequila is a fun and flexible beverage option enjoyed all around the world. One thing that even the most seasoned tequila connoisseurs may not know is the difference between the gold and silver variants. Set aside that plate of salt and lime wedges and take a moment to learn the difference.
There Is No Bronze Tequila:
Sure, it's kind of bronze-ish in color, but this ain't the Olympics, my friend. Tequila comes in two basic categories — gold and silver. However, unlike the sports world, gold tequila is not the most desirable one. Silver tequila, subject to strict labeling requirements, is 100 percent pure blue agave. Silver is the "good stuff." It's clear as a mountain stream, and typically not aged. Savor the natural sweetness of the agave without other meddling types of sugars getting involved.
Gold (or "mixto") tequila must still consist of at least 51 percent blue agave, but alternate sugars are allowed as well. Oak extract, caramel colors and other additives are also allowed in gold tequila, often creating a golden color. You might see it labeled as "mixto tequila" or simply "tequila," but only silver can bear the coveted "100 percent agave" designation. Gold tequila is what's typically used in mixed drinks.
Age Before Beauty:
Don't confuse gold tequila with the golden hue of tequila reposado. This quality gold tequila is aged in wood barrels for anywhere between a few months to a year, lending the spirit a complex and woodsy flavor as well as a natural golden glow. Some are even aged in barrels that formerly contained whiskey, wine or other liquors, further intensifying the tequila's flavor. Añejo and Extra Añejo take things a few steps further thanks to more extensive aging. These are the top-shelf gold tequilas that can take on even the purest of silvers.
There's No Wrong Way to Enjoy Tequila!
Unless you're drinking it straight up, it's pretty difficult to tell silver from gold tequila. Normally, mixto is quite a bit more affordable than the silver varieties. If you're aren't looking to savor your tequila straight from a shot glass, but instead plan on mixing one of the many delectable cocktails centered around this iconic liquor, go with gold and free up extra money for piñatas. Advanced palates should opt for a finely aged gold for more satisfying layers of flavor.