Best Tequilas to Buy
Best Tequilas to Buy – No matter whether you like blanco, extra añejo, or something in between, there’s a perfect bottle for you.
Belying the fact that it has been around for over 500 years—or maybe because of it—tequila is now the second fastest-growing spirit category in the United States, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS).
And there’s a chance it overtakes its nearest competitor, vodka, within the next few years.
No longer the stuff of cheap shots and relegated to pre-mixed happy hour Margaritas, today’s ever-escalating attraction to Mexico’s agave-based distillation has morphed into a celebratory spirit and is being fueled by the many premium tequilas that have recently hit the market.
High-priced tequila bottles aren’t just for whiskey fans anymore.
Best Tequilas to Buy – What Are The Different Types of Tequila
There are four officially sanctioned styles of top shelf tequilas authorized by the government agency CRT (Consejo Regulador del Tequila), which regulates the spirit: blanco, sometimes called silver or plata, it is bottled clear and unaged; reposado, barrel aged from two to 11 months, giving it a tannish hue; añejo, deeper in color and aged from one to three years; extra añejo, rich, brownish-golden tequilas that have been aged longer than three years.
How long? That depends upon the taste profile the maestrotequilero is after, with Código 1530 14 Year Old Extra Añejo currently leading the pack.
Older than that, the barrels sometimes tend to dominate the spirit, often making it woody and overpowering.
But no matter what amount of time it has spent in oak, to produce a superior aged tequila, you must start with a superior unaged blanco.
Best Tequilas to Buy – Loco Puro Corazón
This is one of the most meticulously crafted ultra-premium tequilas to recently make its debut.
Its name tells the story, for “puro corazón” means “pure heart” in Spanish and refers to the fact that when a distilled liquid comes off the copper pot stills, it trickles out in three distinct evolutions.
First is the “heads” a rough tasting liquid that gradually evolves into the “heart,” the “corazón” or middle and purest part of the distillate.
Then comes the last part, the “tails,” which lacks the flavorful purity of the “heart.”
While distillers naturally keep the “heart,” most usually redistill the heads and tails to try and separate whatever small amount of the heart may have been missed. Not so with Loco.
They use only the heart, without redistilling the heads or tails. Even its blanco and reposado tequilas “…remove between eight and 10 times more of the ‘rougher’ alcohols of the heads and tails than the rest of the industry,” according to Juan-Pablo Torres-Padilla, Loco’s managing partner.
But for the ultimate in an elegant sipping tequila, soft as velvet, with sweet essences of pure agave, delicate herbs, and a touch of mint and eucalyptus, Puro Corazón deserves to be slowly savored in the most elegant of crystal snifters.
Joven is the name given to a blend of blanco and an extra añejo tequila that’s been filtered to remove the color and smooth out the flavor.
And Casa Dragones is one of the most exclusive joven tequilas in the world.
The aroma is fresh and floral with notes of citrus and sweet roasted agave.
It’s silky and delicate on the palate, offering hints of vanilla and spiced undertones, balanced with faint notes of pear.
Best Tequilas to Buy – Patron El Alto
One of the newest offerings from this celebrated brand and their first entry into what they have christened their “prestige” category—reflecting their tequila’s style and pricing—this tantalizing reposado is primarily crafted with extra añejo and then blended with añejo and reposado tequilas.
But even though reposado comprises the smallest percentage of this blend—with the primary expression being extra añejo—reposado is the youngest tequila used and therefore is El Alto’s legal classification.
Its slightly tannish hue belies its complexity, which is the result of more than 300 different tastings over a period of four years by master distiller David Rodriguez and his team and represents tequilas that have been aged in 11 different types of barrels, which were mostly hybrids made of American oak, with French oak heads.
The result is a crisp, wet grassy aroma that gives way to a deep, spicy symphony of figs, honey, caramel, dried fruit, and vanilla.
Herradura celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2020 by debuting Legend, which takes advantage of the brand’s affiliation with spirits behemoth Brown-Forman.
Being under the same umbrella as Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Old Forester bourbon—and having access to Brown-Forman’s in-house cooperage—means Herradura can do some interesting things with barrel aging that other tequila brands can’t.
For Legend, they’ve used specially made new American oak barrels that are heavily charred and then deeply grooved—similar to those used in Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select expression.
The liquid not only comes into contact with more of the wood, but the grooving lets it absorb flavors from both charred and uncharred oak.
The result, after 14 months of aging, is a tequila for whiskey lovers, with lots of vanilla, caramel and black pepper on the palate, in addition to roasted agave and cinnamon.
Best Tequilas to Buy – Don Julio Ultima Reserva
The late Don Julio González began his tequila-making career in 1942 and developed an extraordinary sense for taste and aroma.
The result is some of the finest tequilas in Mexico. In celebration of the brand’s 80th anniversary in 2022, Tequila Don Julio Ultima Reserva was released, representing the final agave harvest planted by González and his family in 2006 and set aside for this special distillation.
This 36-month-old extra añejo has been matured in ex-bourbon barrels and was then finished in seasoned Madeira wine casks.
The resulting liquid is golden in color, with a bouquet of toasted oak and caramel, followed by flavors of apricot and citrus, and with a smooth, honeyed agave finish.
As a fitting tribute to Don Julio, it should be enjoyed neat.
Código 1530 14 Y.O. Extra Añejo
In 2022, this award-winning brand released one of the oldest and rarest tequilas available, a 14-year-old elixir that, as expected, is extremely limited, with only 400 gold-etched crystal bottles available, each housed in an individually numbered wooden case with two Riedel tequila tasting glasses.
Using mature Blue Weber agaves, naturally rock-filtered water, and absolutely no additives, this extra añejo is double-barrel aged—first for 14 years in French white oak Napa Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrels, and then finished for an additional six months in a French oak Cognac cask.
Pouring with a deep reddish amber hue, the flavor is a complex balance of sweet maple, dark chocolate, toasted oak, exotic spices and a peaty minerality.
Best Tequilas to Buy – Diablito Rojo Organic Extra Añejo
This ruby golden-hued 123 Organic Extra Añejo was originally created as a private bottling for master tequilero David Ravandi’s personal collection.
It is now offered to the pubic as an extremely limited release.
Handcrafted from sustainably cultivated single estate-grown 100 percent organic Blue Weber agaves grown in high altitude mineral-rich red volcanic soils.
Then, aged in French white oak Limousine barrels for no less than seven years, it is then finished an additional six months in French Limousine oak barrels that previously held one of Napa Valley’s premiere Cabernet Sauvignons.
This unique aging regime heightens the rich spicy flavors of “Diablito Rojo” with the secondary and tertiary notes of ultra-premium Napa Cab, producing a uniquely complex tequila with barrel-aged flavors of caramelized roasted agave, complex brown spices, and a rich silky texture.
Only 2,500 bottles are available.
El Tesoro 85th Anniversary Extra Añejo
In 2022, to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the La Alteña Distillery— which is known for its outstanding highland agave fields in Jalisco—El Tesoro released this limited-edition tequila.
It also symbolized a long-standing family distilling tradition between third-generation master distiller Carlos Camarena and seventh-generation James Beam Distilling Co. master distiller Fred Noe.
Consequently, this exceptional tequila was aged for 36 months in barrels that previously held Booker’s 30th Anniversary Bourbon—a collectable in its own right.
The result is a rich, creamy, full-bodied tequila, brimming with overtones of vanilla, blackberries, caramel, and tobacco that’s perfect for swapping out your whiskey to make a tequila Old Fashioned.
Best Tequilas to Buy – Best Tequilas to Buy
Best Tequilas to Buy – How Does Tequila Differ From Mezcal? – Indeed, celebrity endorsements, new innovations like cristalinos, and experimentations with wood aging have further fueled tequila’s ongoing allure.
What is also so exciting about the tequila boom is the rich diversity of offerings that go beyond blanco, reposado, and añejo—there are creative cask-finished spirits, ultra-aged offerings, single estate tequilas, and more.
Best Tequilas to Buy – How Does Tequila Differ From Mezcal?
Best Tequilas to Buy – How Does Tequila Differ From Mezcal?
Both, by law, must be made in Mexico and distilled from roasted agaves, but tequila can only use the Blue Weber variety and must be distilled in the town of Tequila in Jalisco and four other specifically designated Mexican states: Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas.
Also, the agaves are primarily steam-roasted in ovens.
On the other hand, mezcal can be made in any of nine specified Mexican states, primarily in Oaxaca, but also in Durango, Michoacán, Tamaulipas, Guanajuato, Guerrero, San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas and Puebla.
In addition, mezcal is typically made from agaves that have been cooked by fire, smoke, and heat in rock-lined pits, although Patrón’s new Ahumado boasts a smoky flavor due to roasting their agave piñas in underground stone pits with mesquite charcoal for seven days, but they still use Blue Weber agaves, so it is a tequila, not a mezcal.