Reposado vs añejo tequila – which is best?

Reposado and añejo tequilas are aged in oak barrels for a smoother, richer taste. Reposado, meaning “rested”, tequilas are aged for just a few months, from two to 12 months. Añejos are aged between one and three years. Extra Añejos are aged for more than three years. Aging impacts the appearance, the taste and the suitability for shots, sipping, margaritas and other cocktails.

Both expressions are made from the same blue agave using the same process up until aging.

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

Reposado vs añejo tequila comparison table

FeatureReposado TequilaAñejo Tequila
AgingAged 2 months to less than 1 yearAged 1 to 3 years
BarrelsOak barrelsOak barrels (often smaller and/or charred)
ColorLight amber or goldDarker amber or gold
Agave flavorMellow, roundedRich, more subtle
AromaSweeter, more agave basedRicher, more oak
Tasting notesVanilla, caramel, oak, spicesDried fruits, chocolate, toffee, oak, spices
Alcohol presenceSmoother due to agingEven smoother due to longer aging
Alcohol strengthDepends on the brand but almost always the same as añejo, 40% ABV is most commonDepends on the brand but almost always the same as reposado, 40% ABV is most common
Ideal forSipping neat, on the rocks, or refined cocktails (e.g., Old Fashioned, Manhattan)Sipping neat, on the rocks, or luxurious cocktails (e.g., añejo margarita, añejo Manhattan)
Ok for sipping?Generally ok for sippingMade for sipping
Price rangeSlightly more expensive than blancos due to aging, but cheaper than añejosCan be slightly to significantly more expensive due to longer aging and product positioning
Reposado vs añejo comparison table

Reposado vs añejo production process

The production process for all types of tequila is the same up until the finish of distillation. Blancos or silver tequilas are unaged, or aged for less than two months. Reposados and añejos differ only in the period of time they are aged.

Reposado tequilas are aged for at least two months and up to a year in oak casks. Añejo tequilas are aged for between one year and three years in oak casks before bottling.

The rules for tequila categories and what you call them are controlled by Mexico’s Tequila Regulatory Council (Consejo Regulador del Tequila, or CRT). The official rules are known as the NOM or Norma Oficial Mexicana.

The official classes of tequila are:

  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

Tequila was originally all blanco, with reposado only being introduced in 1974 by Herradura. Find out more about blanco vs reposado tequila.

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 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 blue agave 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.

Read more about the tequila production process.

Reposado vs añejo taste and appearance

Taste

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.

Añejo tequila: Añejo tequilas undergo a longer aging process, which results in a richer, sometimes more complex flavor profile. The extended time spent in oak barrels softens the agave taste and imparts deeper notes of dried fruits, chocolate, toffee, and an enhanced oak presence. Additional spices and a hint of smokiness may also be detected.

Añejo tequilas are characterized by their smooth, velvety texture and full-bodied taste, making them perfect for sipping neat or on the rocks. These aged tequilas can also be used in luxurious cocktails where their nuanced flavors can be showcased and appreciated.

Appearance

The depth of color in aged tequila 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.

Reposado tequila: Reposado tequila has a light amber or golden hue, which it acquires during its aging process in oak barrels. This coloration is a result of the interaction between the tequila and the wood, as well as the gradual oxidation that occurs as the spirit rests in the barrels.

The shade of amber may vary depending on the specific aging conditions, such as the type of oak, the size of the barrels, and the duration of aging. The light golden color of reposado tequila visually distinguishes it from its unaged counterpart, blanco tequila, which is clear and transparent.

Añejo tequila: Añejo tequila exhibits a darker amber or deep gold color, owing to its longer aging period in oak barrels. The extended time in contact with the wood, often in smaller or charred barrels, imparts a richer, more intense color to the spirit. This darker hue is a visual indicator of the añejo’s more mature and complex flavor profile, which results from the extraction of compounds from the oak and the continued oxidation over time.

The rich, dark amber color of añejo tequila sets it apart from both blanco and reposado tequila, reflecting its status as a more aged and sophisticated spirit. Caramel coloring is more likely to be used for añejos to provide a greater distinction from reposados.

Cristalino reposados and añejos

One exception to the coloring is cristalino tequilas. 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.

Popularity of reposado vs añejo

Almost 3x more reposado is produced than añejo but blanco is by far the largest class of tequila. Añejo production accounts for about 8% of all tequila produced, reposado 20% and blanco accounts for 58%. Joven makes up the rest.

Joven tequila, also called gold, is made from a blend of blanco and aged tequilas. The most popular example might be party starter Jose Cuervo Especial Gold.

Chart showing tequila production percentage between añejo, reposado, blanco and joven for 2022.

Chart showing tequila production percentage between añejo, reposado, blanco and joven for 2022. Extra añejo is included in añejo (0.5%). Source: CRT

How do you pronounce añejo?

The accent over the “n” is the clue that añejo can be a little difficult to pronounce. Here’s a phonetic breakdown to help you pronounce this Spanish word correctly:

Añejo: [ah-nyeh-ho]

  1. The first syllable, “ah,” is pronounced like the ‘a’ in “father.”
  2. The second syllable, “nyeh,” has a ‘ñ’ sound, which is similar to the ‘ny’ in the English word “canyon.” Make sure to enunciate the ‘e’ sound as in “yes.”
  3. The final syllable, “ho,” is pronounced with a silent ‘h’ and a short ‘o’ sound, as in the word “hot.”

Is añejo better than reposado?

Añejos are not necessarily better than blancos just because of extra aging and a higher price. The flavors of 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 whiskies, it’s mostly the case that more years aging results in a better product.

For the same brand, añejos are likely to be smoother and richer than reposados. Plus they are more expensive. On the other hand reposados will retain more agave character and the complexity that goes with it. Some extra añejos are not so distinguishable from cognac or even aged rums. If you like that, great, but I like to appreciate the agave.

Certain brands introduce more additives with aged expressions, which may taste more artificial, sweet, and have unnatural vanilla flavors. To replicate the aging process, añejos are likely to have more additives than reposados.

My personal thoughts

While I personally prefer a good blanco over aged tequila I can still appreciate reposados and some añejos. I just see añejos in a different category altogether. For me añejos are more of a digestif or dessert drink – rich, aromatic, indulgent. Just one at a time. For the price, I’d definitely prefer an upgraded reposado than an añejo. 

Patron reposado and anejo boxes

Best for drinking: Blanco vs Reposado

Best for shots: Reposado

No one’s stopping you from shooting añejo. For that matter, no one’s stopping you from mixing it with coke. But the more pragmatic choice for shots is a reposado. 

Best for margaritas: Reposado

While blancos are a more popular choice for margaritas, there’s nothing wrong at all with a reposado margarita. However there is something a bit wrong with an añejo margarita. Something about the lime and añejo don’t play that well together.

Best for fresher / fruitier cocktails: Reposado

If your choice is between the two, go reposado. Otherwise stick to blanco for fruit-forward and fresh cocktails. Anything with citrus or seltzer.

Best for stronger deeper tasting cocktails: Añejo

Spirit-forward cocktails like a Tequila Manhattan or Tequila Old Fashioned are extra indulgent with añejo.

Best for sipping: Añejo

Añejos are made for sipping. Either neat or with a large ice cube. Take your time and enjoy the ride.

Take a look at these comparisons between blancos and reposados for popular brands. Añejos are typically 10% to 20% more expensive than reposados of the same brand.

Casamigos Reposado vs Añejo

Casamigos was famously founded by George Clooney and perhaps more famously sold for $1 billion dollars to Diageo in 2017. It’s easy drinking tequilas have introduced many to the agave spirit. The Casamigos añejo is aged for six months longer than the reposado.

ReposadoAñejo
Aging8 months in oak14 months in oak
Flavor notesVanilla, baked spices, marshmallowCaramel, vanilla, oak
Price$55$59
Alcohol proof / ABV80 proof / 40%80 proof / 40%
DistillerProductos Finos De AgaveProductos Finos De Agave
NOM14161416
OwnerDiageoDiageo

Teremana Reposado vs Añejo

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. Teremana doesn’t specify exactly how long it ages its tequilas but I expect it will be towards the lower end of the minimum requirements given its price positioning.

ReposadoAñejo
AgingNot specified. At least 2 months in American oakNot specified. At least 12 months in American oak
Flavor notesBaked agave, vanilla, sweetVanilla, caramel, oak
Price$33$39
Alcohol proof / ABV80 proof / 40%80 proof / 40%
DistillerDestileria TeremanaDestileria Teremana
NOM16131613
OwnerDwyane Johnson & partnersDwyane Johnson & partners

Patrón Reposado vs Añejo

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 tequila is one of the very few major brands to be additive free.

Patron reposado and anejo boxes
ReposadoAñejo
Aging3-5 months, variety of barrels“Over 12 months”, variety of barrels
Flavor notesBaked agave, vanilla, alcoholOak, baked agave, vanilla
Price$55$65
Alcohol proof / ABV80 proof / 40%80 proof / 40%
DistillerHacienda PatrónHacienda Patrón
NOM14921492
OwnerBacardiBacardi

Don Julio Reposado vs Añejo

Don Julio is one of the widest distributed tequilas. Both Don Julio Reposado and Añejo are aged for well above the minimums. The reposado is aged for 8 months and the añejo is aged for 18 months, both six months more than the respective category minimums.

ReposadoAñejo
Aging8 months in American white oak18 months in American white oak
Flavor notesVanilla, caramel, oakVanilla, caramel, oak
Price$54$65
Alcohol proof / ABV80 proof / 40%80 proof / 40%
DistillerDiageo MexicoDiageo Mexico
NOM14491449
OwnerDiageoDiageo

FAQs

What does añejo mean?

Añejo is Spanish and means “aged” in English.

Which does repososado?

Reposado is Spanish and means “rested” in English.

Which is stronger reposado or añejo?

Reposado tequila typically has a slightly stronger taste but reposados and añejos are typically bottled at the same alcoholic strength.

Can you substitute reposado and añejo in cocktails?

Yes, you can substitute reposado and añejo tequila in cocktails. Swapping reposado for añejo, or vice versa, can bring out different flavors and nuances in a cocktail, making it an interesting way to experiment with various recipes.

When substituting reposado for añejo in a cocktail, expect the drink to have a slightly lighter taste with more prominent agave flavors. Conversely, when replacing reposado with añejo, the cocktail will likely take on a richer, more sophisticated character, with deeper, more complex flavors from the longer aging process.

As another daring option, combine blanco tequila and añejo to get closer to a reposado, or essentially a DIY joven tequila.

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