Here’s a hopefully handy reference to tequila terminology.
Mixto: You won’t find this word on the bottle label, but if you don’t see “100% De Agave” then you’ve got a mixto. This type of tequila is distilled from a mix of at least 51% sugars deriving from the blue agave plant along with other sugars such as cane sugar. Mixto tequilas are inexpensive and include some of the most popular-selling tequilas, like Jose Cuervo Gold and Sauza.
100% De Agave or 100% Puro De Agave: These tequilas are distilled completely from fermented, distilled blue agave. They are more expensive but considered superior to mixtos in quality and flavor. 100% agave tequila brands include Patron, Herradura, Don Julio, and Cazadores.
Either mixto or 100% agave tequila may fall into one of the following aging categories:
Blanco, White, Plata, Platinum, or Silver: Usually unaged, but sometimes aged for less than two months in barrels. They are clear in color.
Gold, Oro, or Joven: Most gold tequilas are mixto tequilas (Cuervo Gold, for example), adulterated with colorants or flavorings. However there are just a couple of joven tequilas that are 100% agave tequilas (for example, Casa Dragones), in which a blanco tequila is mixed with older tequila to add color or flavor.
Reposado: Tequila aged from between two months to one year in oak containers. These can be large vats or small barrels.
Anejo: Tequila aged for a minimum of one year in oak containers not larger than 600 liters.
Extra-Anejo: Tequila aged for a minimum of three years in oak containers not larger than 600 liters.
While you may read that blanco tequilas are for mixing and reposado, anejo, and extra-anejo tequilas are for sipping, that’s simply not true. Blanco tequilas do make great margaritas and mix well in fruit-forward cocktails. Longer-aged tequilas take on caramel woody notes, and can be substituted for other aged spirits like bourbon. (Try an Anejo Tequila Manhattan sometime.) And many 100% agave tequilas are great for sipping at any age.