You may be under the assumption that there are solely two types of tequila: the one that causes a blackout within 3 shots and leaves you with a crippling hangover the next day or the one that tastes like heavenly ambrosia but creates a black hole in your budget. In reality, there are really five kinds of tequila broken into two tequila classifications—gold vs silver. What’s the difference between silver and gold tequila, you ask? We were just about to tell you.
First, What is Tequila?
In case you never tried the stuff (or can’t remember if you did), let’s get (re)acquainted. Tequila is a liquor made in Mexico and is under some of the most stringent regulations for production. Due to Mexican tequila law, only two kinds of tequila can be produced in only five states. Tequilas are broken up into two groups: 100% agave, which uses sugars solely from the blue agave plant, and mixto, which uses 51% (and no less) blue agave sugars alongside other sugars.
Within those categories, you have blanco or silver and gold tequila. All get broken down further by how long they have aged.
What is Silver Tequila?
Also known as white, blanco, or platinum tequila, silver tequila is made from distilled agave juice. Often, silver tequila is bottled directly after distillation, though some producers will let it age for a couple of weeks (no longer than 60 days) in a stainless steel container. It keeps that fresh agave flavor.
Since silver tequila is rather simple to manufacture, it often is a budget friendly spirit. Silver tequila is often used for mixed drinks, like the famous Tequila Sunrise. Unlike aged tequila, the crisp and tangy flavor of agave does not mask other spirits in drinks.
“Joven” means “young” in Spanish. The most basic definition of joven tequila is a blanco (silver) tequila that is blended with a small amount of gold tequila, giving it a light yellow color. Another definition of joven tequila is a mixto that contains some colorings or flavorings.
Some examples of joven tequila include Jose Cuervo Gold and Sauza Gold. Keep in mind that these are not sipping tequilas, even when it contains 100% agave and has a slightly aged profile.
What is Gold Tequila?
Surprisingly, gold tequila is often not as aged as you think it would be. You may also be wondering, “Is gold tequila considered dark liquor?” That depends on how long it has been allowed to rest. You see, there are many gold tequilas on the market that have had artificial colors, like caramel, added to make the spirit look aged and refined. However, aged tequilas will actually have a more brownish or amber hue and will cost much more than a gold tequila.
If the bottle doesn’t say that the tequila is made from 100% agave, look at the ingredients. Chances are it will contain additional sugars and caramel.
Don’t let that dissuade you from gold tequila, though. There are 100% agave options that taste like heaven, but they don’t have that metallic gold look of mixto versions. You just have to know which kind of gold tequila is worth purchasing—especially if you want to enjoy a good sip of tequila.
There are two ways a tequila manufacturer might sell their tequila: unaged and fresh from distillation (blanco tequila) or after it has rested in some barrels. Reposado, meaning “rested” in Spanish, is a kind of tequila that has been aged between 60 to 365 days in an oak barrel.
Reposado tequila is less gold and more of a light amber. Though it is closer to silver tequila in age, it is far less harsh than young tequila while maintaining a fair amount of agave bite.
More brown than gold, añejo (aged) tequila spends 1-3 years in barrels that come from whiskey or bourbon distilleries. Añejo is said to be the best tequila for sipping, because it tastes of vanilla and caramel and is extremely smooth.
Extra Añejo Tequila
Aged longer than 3 years, extra añejo is the top tier of tequila. Only small batches of extra añejo are made at a time, so you can expect to pay a premium. The flavor of the tequila is an exquisite blend of spices and liquid warmth that only improves with age.
Is White or Gold Tequila Better?
It’s truly your preference and how you like to drink your tequila (or what you intend on mixing with the tequila). In the gold vs silver tequila argument, clear tequila comes out on top for margaritas. That extra bite alongside the orange liqueur and lime juice really makes a margarita pop—especially when you’re whipping up a frozen one. That said, some people truly prefer the flavors of gold tequila.
Gold or silver tequila for shots is a coin flip. Clear tequila can be horribly cheap and painful to drink, but if you want to get buzzed on a budget, it could work. Gold, depending on the quality, goes down much easier, but you might have to put out some extra money.
If you want to sip your tequila without any mixers, opt for reposado or añejo tequila. Again, that tang of clear tequila can make sipping difficult, whereas aged tequilas go down like a fine wine.
Which is the Smoothest Tequila?
The smoothest tequila is going to be the one that is most aged—extra añejo tequila. The dark mahogany of extra añejo feels like cool liquid caramel on the tongue and tastes extraordinary. Nice, right?
Now, here’s something to think about: what is the smoothest tequila for shots?
Well, that’s really up to you. Keep in mind that one of the main differences between gold and silver tequila is the taste. Since white tequila is sharper and more acidic, it is going to burn when you take a shot of it. Meanwhile, gold tequila is gentle, almost soothing, in its flavors. So, if you want to take pleasant shots and not go scrambling for the nearest chaser, choose a gold tequila.
Wrapping Up: Silver vs Gold Tequila
So, what’s the difference between silver and gold tequila? A lot of things! The aging of the tequila colors and the flavors are worlds apart. Clear tequila vs gold tequila is all about the flavor, price range, versatility, and smoothness. Because of that, gold tequila is considered best for sipping while clear or silver tequila is ideal for cocktails.