The heart of the plant, which can weigh well over 100 pounds, is peeled, roasted and crushed, and its sweet juice is then fermented and distilled. (While premium tequila is made from pure agave, cheaper tequila called mixto is distilled from both agave and other sugars.) Tequila is usually distilled twice.
There are four main tequila categories: Blanco (also called silver, plata or platinum) is aged for less than two months and is clear; reposado is aged between two and 12 months and is golden-colored; añejo is aged between one and three years and is a whisky-like brown; and extra-añejo, a new category introduced by the Tequila Regulatory Council in 2006, is aged more than three years. Tequila, like most Scotches, is typically aged in used bourbon casks.
HOW TO DRINK TEQUILA:
Blanco tequila is perfect for shots and works nicely in cocktails like the Margarita, the Paloma and the Bloody Maria. Reposado, añejo and extra-añejo tequilas can be sipped like whiskies or can be used to create a decadent cocktail.