Tequila: Everything you should know, and the 13 best brands

But it can’t be just any agave.

Juan Bonilla, CEO of Juan Bonilla Imports

Juan Bonilla, tequila expert

Juan Bonilla

In order for it to be pure tequila, it must be produced from the Blue Agave plant, and a plant that has matured for a minimum of six years. “The optimum maturing time is nine years, but still the best tequilas are made with agaves that are at least six years in the ground,” said Juan Bonilla, CEO of Juan Bonilla Imports, an Atlanta-based company dedicated to importing and distributing tequila. Bonilla grew up with tequila in his blood. His family has owned agave farms for generations in Mexico.

Similar to Champagne, tequila can only truly be called “tequila” when it comes from one of the five designated states in Mexico that have the government designation to make and produce it. The most well-known tequila state is Jalisco, which is where tequila was born. 

After harvesting, the agave undergoes a distilling process and then is aged in barrels, steel or oak, to produce its four different types: Blanco, Reposado, Anejo, and Extra Anejo. Blanco tequila is the youngest tequila, meaning that it is aged for less than 60 days. Sometimes it is bottled immediately after distillation. Reposado tequila is typically aged from 60 days to one year. Anejo, which means “vintage,” is aged from one to three years, while Extra Anejo is aged four years.


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