Tequila vs. Whisky: A Comparative Guide


It might surprise you that tequila has surpassed whisky to reach the number two spot in market value.

When comparing tequila vs. whisky, those who are fans have a strong allegiance to each and their unique features.

So, how are tequila and whisky different, and why is one more beloved by spirit drinkers than the other? Read on to learn more about tequila vs. whisky.

Origins of Tequila vs. Whisky

Both tequila and whisky have a long and varied history. Each distinct flavor profile has a connection to its core ingredients.

Tequila can trace its roots all the way back to the Aztecs. In the 16th century, they used fermented agave to make pulque, the earliest form of tequila.

Now, tequila is mainly distilled in Mexico from blue agave. The spirit goes through a double distillation process to get the fermented liquor at the end.

Whisky’s history goes back even further to the 15th century. The grain-based spirit was first distilled in Ireland and Scotland. Once distilled, oak barrels finish the distilling process.

Tequila continues to be primarily distilled in Mexico. Whisky, however, has traveled beyond its origins and is distilled around the globe.

How Tequila and Whisky Are Different

Both spirits go through a distillation and fermentation process to make tequila and whisky. Both have high alcohol content.

After that, they are pretty different. Tequila gets made from the agave plant. The plant is then ground into a powder and mixed with water and other substances to make the tequila.

Tequila is a clear liquid spirit often considered smooth and sometimes has hints of sweetness. The liquor can also have traces of citrus and spice.

Whisky gets distilled from malted barley, rye, grain, or a combination of it. Once distilled, the whisky-making process finishes as the liquor ages, usually in oak barrels.

The amber-colored spirit often presents with a smoky, woody taste. Secondary flavors are also common, depending on the distiller.

Types of Tequila

If you’re a fan of tequila drinks, you already know there’s a variety of types of tequila.

A Blanco tequila isn’t aged and is sometimes called a silver tequila. It’s a good choice for margaritas and other tequila-mixed drinks.

Another rare variety of tequila is the Extra Añejo. This tequila is aged for more than three years. Because of its age, It is a deep amber color and is most commonly consumed straight.

A Reposado tequila is considered rested. It gets its rest in oak barrels, like whisky. It might rest in the barrels from a few months to a year to infuse the oaky flavors.

Types of Whisky

Those who like drinking whisky also know there are many types. For example, one whisky drinker might favor bourbon, while another loves scotch.

Some of the most favored types of whisky include:

  • Bourbon
  • Scotch
  • Rye
  • Irish whisky
  • Canadian whisky
  • Single-malt whisky

How the whisky gets distilled and aged impacts its type. You can read more about Scotch whisky here.

Tequila or Whisky, What’s Your Preference?

The exciting thing about both tequila and whisky is that there are so many different varieties, each with unique flavor profiles and ways to drink them. You might be surprised at the differences when comparing tequila vs. whisky based on how it’s made and aged.

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