Blanco vs reposado tequila – what’s best for what?

By: Michael Prentice

Blanco and reposado tequilas are the most popular types of tequila. The difference in time spent aging accounts for the classification difference. Aging impacts the appearance, the taste and the suitability for shots, sipping, margaritas and other cocktails.

All tequila is made from the blue agave plant, technically Agave tequilana Weber variety.

Here I cover all you need to know about the difference between blanco and reposado tequila. I also look into some differences between blancos and reposados for popular brands such as Casamigos, Teremana, Patron and Don Julio.

Blanco vs reposado tequila comparison table

FeatureBlanco TequilaReposado Tequila
AgingUnaged or aged for less than 2 monthsAged 2 months to less than 1 year
BarrelsStainless steel or neutral oak barrelsOak barrels
ColorClearLight amber or gold
Agave flavorBold, assertiveMellow, rounded
Tasting notesCitrus, pepper, herbs, sometimes floral or grassyVanilla, caramel, oak, spices
Alcohol presenceMore pronouncedSmoother due to aging
Alcohol strengthDepends on the brand but almost always the same as reposado, 40% ABV is most commonDepends on the brand but almost always the same as blanco, 40% ABV is most common
Ideal forShots, Cocktails with strong flavors (e.g., margaritas, palomas)Sipping neat, on the rocks, or refined cocktails (e.g., Old Fashioned, Manhattan)
Ok for sipping?Avoid cheaper blancos for sipping. Some are excellentGenerally ok for sipping
Price rangeGenerally lower-pricedSlightly more expensive due to aging
Blanco vs reposado comparison table
Two bottles of Mi Campo Tequila, blanco and reposado

Blanco vs reposado production process

The production process for all tequila types is the same up until the finish of distillation. Blancos and reposados differ only in the period of time they are aged.

Blanco tequilas are usually bottled directly following distillation, or can be aged for up to two months in either stainless steel tanks or oak casks. Reposado tequilas are aged for between two months and one year in oak casks before bottling.

Note – in both cases distilled water is usually added prior to bottling to reduce the alcohol volume to its intended level, usually 40% ABV / 80 proof.

Tequila was originally all blanco, with reposado only being introduced in 1974 by Herradura.

Official tequila classes

  1. Blanco (AKA “plato” or “silver”)
    • Unaged tequila or aged for up to 2 months in oak barrels
  2. Oro (AKA “gold” or “joven”)
    • A blend of blanco and other aged tequila
  3. Reposado (AKA “aged”)
    • Tequila aged between 2-12 months in oak barrels
  4. Añejo (AKA “extra aged”)
    • Tequila aged 1-3 years in oak barrels
  5. Extra añejo (AKA “ultra aged”)
    • Tequila aged more than 3 years in oak barrels

Learn more about reposado vs añejo tequila and how these two classes differ.

Production proportion of different tequila classes

Production proportion of anejo, reposado and blanco tequila 2022
Production proportion of different classes of tequila – añejo, reposado, blanco and joven for 2022. Data source: CRT.

Tequila production method

Tequila is made from the cooked and fermented sap of the blue Weber agave (agave tequilana). The agave plants grow on farms and take five to nine years to mature.

When they are ready, workers called jimadors harvest the plant by cutting off the spiky leaves and taking the core of the plant, known as the piña.

The piña is baked, then shredded and fermented for between three to 10 days. The fermented mix, known as mosto is then distilled, usually twice.

Blanco vs reposado taste and appearance


Blanco tequila: It exhibits a strong, pure agave flavor that can be quite bold and robust. Tasting notes often include citrus, pepper, herbs, and sometimes floral or grassy undertones. The lack of aging means that the spirit retains the bright, vegetal characteristics of the blue agave, with a more pronounced alcohol presence. Can have a complex flavor profile if produced using more artisanal methods with mature agave.

Reposado tequila: The time spent in oak barrels mellows the agave flavor and imparts additional flavors, such as vanilla, caramel, oak, and spices. Reposado tequilas are smoother and more balanced, making them ideal for sipping or using in cocktails that highlight the spirit’s flavors. Due to the relatively young aging, most reposados still retain agave flavors.

A good way to appreciate the differences between blanco and reposado tequilas is through a vertical tequila flight.


Blanco tequila: 99% of blanco tequila is clear and colorless, like gin and vodka. Some brands that have been aged in oak have a faint yellow straw color. Gran Centenario Plata is an example of a yellowish blanco tequila, which has been aged 28 days in oak.

Reposado tequila: Reposados tend to be light amber or gold. The depth of color depends on:

  • The amount of time they have been aged – longer time makes it darker.
  • The “freshness” of the barrel – first use barrels and barrels that have been re-charred pass on more color.
  • The size of the barrel – smaller barrels pass on more color than larger ones.
  • Whether any coloring has been added. Tequila producers can add caramel coloring without disclosing it, even in “100% agave” bottles.
  • Previous barrel use – tequila aged in recently used red wine or rosé barrels can become pink tequila.

If a reposado is darker than just pale gold it’s probably the additives that accounts for most of the color. A longer time in the barrel doesn’t necessarily translate into dark colors. For example, Siete Leguas Reposado is aged for eight months in oak, well above the minimum, and still has only a faint straw color.

Cristalino reposados

One exception to the coloring is cristalino reposados. These look just like blanco tequila. Cristalino tequila has been charcoal filtered to remove all color and some flavor notes. You can have cristalino reposados, añejos and extra añejos and they all come out clear and colorless. It is a relatively new practice and not yet an official tequila classification.

Blanco tequilas that are actually aged in oak

Gran Centenario Plata

  • Aged 28 days in French limousin oak
  • Has a faint yellow coloring
  • Owned by the largest tequila company, Becle, who also produces the largest tequila brand, Jose Cuervo

Herradura Silver

  • Aged 45 days in oak
  • No coloring clearly visible
  • Owned by Brown-Forman, one of the largest tequila companies

Is reposado better than blanco?

Reposados are not necessarily better than blancos just because of extra aging and a higher price. The flavors of the agave are complex and interesting enough to drink it unaged. Contrast this to other spirits like whiskey where most of the desirable flavors come from the wood itself.

For the same brand, reposados are likely to be smoother and more balanced than blancos. Plus a little more expensive. On the other hand blancos will have more vibrancy and freshness than reposados, with more agave character.

Certain brands introduce more additives with aged expressions, which may taste more artificial, sweet, and have unnatural vanilla flavors.

My personal thoughts

For me it depends on the brand. For mass produced brands, whether cheap like El Jimador and Hornitos, or more mid-range like Don Julio I prefer their reposados over their blancos if drinking straight. Their blancos tend to be a bit bland for my tastes, better for mixing.

For more craft-focused brands like Ocho or El Tesoro I prefer their blancos as I really enjoy the agave flavors.

For celebrity-style brands that tend to be overly-sweetened for my tastes I stick to blancos.

Best for drinking: Blanco vs Reposado

Best for shots: Reposado

Tequila shots don’t have to leave you gagging – opt for the smoother reposado instead.

Best for margaritas: Blanco

Let the agave character shine through. A perfect match for the lime.

Best for fresher / fruitier cocktails: Blanco

Stick to blanco for fruit-forward and fresh cocktails. Anything with citrus or seltzer.

Best for stronger deeper tasting cocktails: Reposado

Spirit-forward cocktails like a Tequila Manhattan or Tequila Old Fashioned.

Best for sipping: Reposado

Reposados are the safest bet for sipping tequila. While there are plenty of good blancos to sip, they are just a little harder to find.

Two tall tequila shots with two glasses of sangrita

Silver vs blanco vs plata

There is no actual difference between tequilas that are called “blanco”, “silver”, or “plata”. They are all names for the same kind of tequila – tequila that is unaged, or aged for less than two months. 

Take a look at these comparisons between blancos and reposados for popular brands. Reposados are typically 10% to 25% more expensive than blancos of the same brand.

Casamigos Blanco vs Reposado

Casamigos logo

Casamigos was famously founded by George Clooney and perhaps more famously sold for $1 billion dollars to Diageo in 2017. It’s easy drinking blancos and reposados have introduced many to tequila.

Aging2 months in stainless steel8 months in oak
Flavor notesVanilla, baked agaveVanilla, baked spices, marshmallow
Alcohol proof / ABV80 proof / 40%80 proof / 40%
DistillerProductos Finos De AgaveProductos Finos De Agave

Teremana Blanco vs Reposado

Teremana is owned by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and has been on a huge growth spurt since its launch in March 2020. Unlike other celebrity tequilas Teremana is positioned as more affordable.

AgingUnagedNot specified. At least 2 months in American oak
Flavor notesBaked agave, black pepper, citrusBaked agave, vanilla, sweet
Alcohol proof / ABV80 proof / 40%80 proof / 40%
DistillerDestileria TeremanaDestileria Teremana
OwnerDwyane Johnson & partnersDwyane Johnson & partners

Patrón Silver vs Reposado

Patron Logo

Patrón prides itself on its traditional approach to tequila making, using a small batch mentality. It is one of the top selling tequila brands worldwide. Patrón is owned by Bacardi.

Silver (Blanco)Reposado
AgingUnaged3-5 months, variety of barrels
Flavor notesBaked agave, black pepper, citrusBaked agave, vanilla, alcohol
Alcohol proof / ABV80 proof / 40%80 proof / 40%
DistillerHacienda PatrónHacienda Patrón

Don Julio Blanco vs Reposado

Don Julio Logo

Don Julio is one of the widest distributed tequilas. Like Casamigos their reposado is also aged 8 months which is towards the higher end.

AgingUnaged8 months in American white oak
Flavor notesBaked agave, black pepper, vegetalVanilla, caramel, oak
Alcohol proof / ABV80 proof / 40%80 proof / 40%
DistillerDiageo MexicoDiageo Mexico

Further questions

What does reposado mean?

Reposado is Spanish and means “rested” in English. Sometimes “aged” is used to refer to tequila of the same class.

What does blanco mean?

Blanco is Spanish and means “white” in English. Tequila from this class is unaged, or aged for less than two months in stainless steel or oak. Other names for tequila in this class are “plata” or “silver”.

Which is stronger, blanco or reposado?

Blanco tequila typically has a stronger taste. However blancos and reposados are typically bottled at the same alcoholic strength, most commonly 80 proof / 40% ABV.

Can you substitute blanco and reposado in cocktails?

Yes, you can substitute blanco and reposado tequila in cocktails. Each type of tequila brings unique qualities to a cocktail, and swapping one for the other will highlight different flavors and nuances.

When substituting blanco for reposado in a cocktail, expect the drink to have a more pronounced agave taste and a slightly stronger alcohol presence. Conversely, when replacing blanco with reposado, the cocktail will likely take on a smoother, more balanced character, with the additional flavors imparted by the oak aging process.

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