Tequila vs Vodka: Key Differences

Tequila vs Vodka: Key Differences

Tequila and Vodka: Differences and Similarities

The world of distilled spirits is vast and diverse. Tequila and vodka are two of the standout options, each with a rich history and deep connection to their respective cultures, as well as unique flavor profiles and distinct production processes. In this article, we will explore the key differences and similarities between tequila and vodka. Join us!

Main Differences in Production Processes

Tequila and mezcal are both made from agave plants, but they’re often confused with each other. What’s the difference?

The production processes for tequila and vodka differ significantly. Tequila is made from the blue agave plant, primarily in the Jalisco region of Mexico. The agave is cooked, fermented, and distilled. Additionally, tequila can be aged in oak barrels to develop different flavor profiles, which distinguish between blanco, reposado, and añejo versions.

On the other hand, vodka can be produced from various fermentable ingredients such as grains, potatoes, and even beets. Vodka distillation generally involves multiple passes through a still to achieve a high degree of purity, resulting in a more neutral flavor compared to tequila.

Tequila Production Process

  • Agave Cultivation: Blue agave is cultivated for several years (6 to 10 years) before being harvested. The piñas (the heart of the agave) are cut and taken to the distillery.
  • Cooking: The agave piñas are cooked in traditional brick ovens or autoclaves. This process converts starches into fermentable sugars.
  • Extraction: Once cooked, the piñas are crushed to extract the sweet juices.
  • Fermentation: The result is fermented with yeast in large tanks, converting the sugars into alcohol.
  • Distillation: Tequila is generally distilled twice in copper stills. Some variants may be distilled more times.
  • Aging: As previously mentioned, the aging time determines its classification (blanco, reposado, añejo, etc.).

Vodka Production Process

  • Ingredient Selection: Base ingredients such as potatoes, grains, or fruits are chosen.
  • Maceration: The ingredients are mashed to release the sugars.
  • Fermentation: The sugars are fermented with yeast, producing a liquid with low alcohol content.
  • Distillation: The liquid is distilled multiple times to purify the alcohol. Continuous distillation in columns is common for vodka, allowing for a higher degree of purity.
  • Filtration: Vodka is filtered to remove impurities. This process can involve charcoal filters or other materials, depending on the producer.
  • Dilution and Bottling: The distilled vodka is diluted with pure water to reach the desired alcohol concentration and then bottled.

Origin of Tequila vs. Origin of Vodka

Tequila has a deep cultural significance in Mexico. Originating from the state of Jalisco, tequila is not just a drink but a symbol of national identity. The Denomination of Origin protects the authenticity of tequila, ensuring that only beverages produced in specific regions of Mexico can bear this name:

  • Jalisco
  • Part of Nayarit
  • A sector of Michoacán
  • An area of Guanajuato
  • A specific territory in Tamaulipas

The Role of Vodka in Eastern European Traditions

Vodka, commonly associated with Russia, is also popular in Poland and other Eastern European countries. It does not have a strict denomination of origin like tequila and is produced in various parts of the world.

In Russia, vodka is considered almost a national drink. Historically, it has been part of daily life and celebrations, from royal banquets to simple family gatherings. It is worth noting that traditional Russian vodka was typically made from wheat or rye, and its purity is a point of national pride.

In many countries, vodka is consumed neat and cold, reflecting its reputation as a pure, unadulterated beverage.

Flavor Profile of Tequila and Vodka

Tequila is known for its distinctive flavor, which can vary considerably depending on the type and aging process. Here we break down its main flavor characteristics:

The primary flavor of tequila comes from blue agave, giving it herbal and earthy notes. In blanco tequila, these agave notes are more prominent and fresh, providing a clear and vibrant flavor profile. You can often detect flavors of pepper, citrus, and even a slight sweetness.

Vodka, on the other hand, is known for its neutral flavor, but there are subtle variations depending on the base ingredients and distillation process. It is traditionally distilled to achieve a high degree of purity, resulting in a clean and neutral flavor profile. This neutrality makes it a perfect base for cocktails, as it does not interfere with the flavors of other ingredients.


Popular Cocktails


Tequila is a versatile ingredient that is used in a wide variety of cocktails, but if we had to highlight some of them, they would be:

Margarita: The most iconic tequila cocktail, made with tequila, lime juice and orange liqueur, often served with salt on the rim of the glass.

Paloma: A refreshing mix of tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice and grapefruit soda, served over ice and adding that signature salt rim to the two most iconic drinks (the previous one and this one).

Tequila Sunrise: A visually appealing drink. It is made with tequila, orange juice and grenadine, which creates a gradient effect of reddish and yellowish colors.

Tequila Old Fashioned: A variation on the classic Old Fashioned, using tequila instead of bourbon or whiskey and mixed with sugar, Angostura bitters and an orange peel.


Vodka is a popular base for many cocktails because of its neutral flavor, which allows the rest of the ingredients to shine on their own:

Bloody Mary: A robust, savory cocktail made with vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper, and garnished with celery, olives, or even shrimp!

Martini: Classic and elegant, the Martini is made with vodka and dry vermouth and served with an olive or lemon twist.

Cosmopolitan: A chic and fruity cocktail made with vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice and lime juice.

Moscow Mule: A refreshing drink served in a copper mug, made with vodka, ginger beer and lime juice. It is usually served garnished with a slice of lime or ginger.

Altos Tequila as a Seal of Quality

Altos Tequila is a brand that represents the authentic essence of Mexican tequila, combining tradition and quality in every bottle. Produced in the Altos de Jalisco, a region famous for its altitude and volcanic soil, Altos Tequila is made from 100% premium Weber blue agave, grown and harvested by hand by local farmers. This commitment to quality starts from the cultivation of the agave to the final distillation process.

Enjoy tequila, enjoy Altos.