Tequila vs Whiskey – Differences and Comparison

Abbey Miller
Last Updated on
by Abbey Miller

The main ingredient for tequila is juice from the blue agave plant. Once fermented, the beverage can be immediately bottled and distributed to liquor stores. Hence, it takes a shorter time to prepare tequila than whiskey.

Whiskey is made with wheat mort combined with other ingredients to start distillation. The beverage needs at least three years sitting inside charred oak vats before it can be bottled and distributed. However, some whiskey may sit in the vats for up to a decade for a richer flavor.

Because tequila and whiskey have a similar distillation method as well as fermentation process, this may be why they both have an average of 97 calories per shot. However, there are some differences such as alcohol by volume, overall taste, and the health benefits it serves consumers.

Comparison Chart

Alcohol by VolumeUsually 40%60% to 75% for Scotch whiskey   90% of it is American whiskey
Health BenefitsLosing weight and reducing digestive problemsSleep issues and stress
Years to Produce8 to 2010 to 15
Main IngredientBlue agave plantFermented grains (a combination of rye, wheat, and barley, depending on the brand)
Fermentation ProcessThe juices from the blue agave plant go into wooden vats for fermentation.Distiller’s yeast (or brewer’s yeast) is combined with malt (malted barley and water) to begin fermentation.
How Long to FermentThree to four daysTwo to four days
Can you drink it straight?YesYes
TasteIt tastes like spicy fruit with a smooth feelSmoky taste with elements of vanilla and oak
Caloric Content97 calories for a 42 g shot97 calories for a 42 g shot

What Are the Different Types of Whiskey?

  • American Whiskey
  • Irish Whiskey
  • Japanese Wiskey

Here are the main types of whiskey. Some have similar lengths in the distilling process, but the flavors and notes of each one differ because of the tools used in manufacturing.


American whiskey includes straight bourbon, blended bourbon, or standard bourbon. The straight bourbon is in its purest form with no other colors or flavors with at least a two-year aging period.

Standard bourbon has to have at least 51% corn. Blended bourbon needs to have a minimum of 51% straight bourbon when it’s mixed with additional spirits. 

Tennessee whiskey is almost the same as standard bourbon. However, there is an extra step called charcoal filtering that takes place after distillation. Rye whiskey is at least 51% rye with the Canadian version having a lower percentage of the ingredient.


The Irish Whiskey Act of 1980 outlines the general requirements that Irish whiskey must meet to be bottled and distributed to consumers. It started with a mash of malted barley. However, if desired, the manufacturer can add other cereal grains to enhance flavor.

Fermentation and distillation must not cause the spirit to go over 94.8% alcohol by volume (ABV). The only additives allowed are caramel coloring for presentation and water to balance out alcohol content.

Similar to Scotch whiskey, the Irish-style spirit must remain distilling for at least three years before bottling and distribution. Once bottled, the final ABV reading must be 40% or less.


Japanese whiskey commonly has barley as the base ingredient. They have a smokier, more pungent flavor compared to American-style bourbon beverages. Many brands are fermented and distilled in vats made with Japanese Mizunara oak.

What Are The Different Types of Tequila?

  • Anejo
  • Blanco
  • Cristalino
  • Joven
  • Reposado

Now let’s talk about the many types of tequila and their differing flavor notes and distilling processes.


Anejo takes as little as one year to age in oak barrels. Some versions are aged for up to three years. This type has flavor profiles of raisins, vanilla, and honey which match its delightful honey-yellow color after distillation.


Blanco tequila has a short distilling process inside oak barrels for at least two months. Many types are a crystal-like color, hence their name, but others may come out slightly green when sitting in the barrels.

This tequila type features peppery, citrusy notes with an underlying spice element. Hence, it makes a great addition to citrus-based cocktails.


Cristalino is a type of Anejo tequila. Some of these types are also extra anejo tequila. It undergoes a charcoal filtering process before bottling and distribution. Its sweet, almost vanilla-like taste makes it unique compared to other spicier, citrus-like tequilas.


Joven tequila combines blanco and a more aged spirit such as anejo or reposado. Mixing the less-aged blanco with the more-aged tequila enhances flavor notes otherwise not experienced when drinking the tequila types separately.

The Joven type is also known as gold tequila. The oak extract is usually added to achieve a smokier flavor.


Reposado tequila distills in a barrel for a minimum of two months for up to a year. The taste is a bit more subtle than the strong taste of Blanco tequila.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you know details about tequila and whiskey, let’s answer your questions about these hard liquors so you can learn more.

Which alcoholic beverage is better to drink between whiskey and tequila?

Out of the two, tequila is usually the healthier option compared to whiskey. Tequila has agavins in them which turn into dietary fiber for the body. While whiskey does contain healthy grains, there are more impurities in this beverage compared to tequila.

Are all whiskey considered bourbon?

No, not all types of whiskey are bourbon. However, if you are drinking bourbon, then you are drinking a type of whiskey.

Does tequila or whiskey have a higher proof?

Alcohol proof shows how much ethanol is in an alcoholic beverage. Whiskey is usually 80 proof while tequila is between 76 to 110, depending on the brand’s ABV.

What’s Your Choice? Tequila or Whiskey?

If you have never drunk either tequila or whiskey before, try both and see how you like both! Tequila is best for more health-conscious people, while whiskey is for those who love hard liquor with a higher ABV.

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Abbey Miller
Abbey Miller
Abbey grew up in a family with an appreciation for great beers, fine wines, and nuanced Scotch whiskeys. It's no surprise that she studied Hospitality Management and is now a professional working on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip.
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