Tequila is experiencing something of a golden age right now. Aside from the litany of celebrities making their own branded tequilas in recent years, the international market for Mexico’s national spirit is booming. Perhaps it’s the celebrity caché, the increased popularity of margaritas, or plain old coincidence, but whatever the case, there are more tequila brands offerings than ever before, which is why we thought now was the perfect time to round up the best tequilas to drink.
Not all tequilas are created equal, however, and there remain loads of terrible bottles out there that will make you feel like a steamroller fell on you after a night out. Namely, you want to only consume tequilas made with 100% blue agave and avoid any “mixtos” that don’t boast this designation — otherwise, you’re gonna have a bad time. Due to the spirit’s ubiquitousness, it can be overwhelming looking for a great tequila, which is why we selflessly researched and tried many tequilas to create a comprehensive list of the best bottles on the market. These tequilas are all premium-tasting and made with high levels of craftsmanship, all while covering the entire price point spectrum. So sit back, relax, and pour yourself a glass, shot, or cocktail as we dive into the best tequilas you can drink right now.
What Is Tequila?
A Distilled Summary
Tequila is the national drink of Mexico and can only be called such if it comes from the Tequila region of Mexico, similar to how Champagne must be made in the Champagne region of France. It’s made by toasting and distilling blue agave and then aging the distilled liquid anywhere from seven days to five years. After the tequila ages, it can be classified into five distinct categories: Blanco (the least aged), Joven, Reposado, Añejo, and Extra Añejo (the most aged). Typically, Blancos exist on the cheaper end of the price spectrum while Extra Añejos are on the more expensive end, however, there are premium standouts in all categories that deserve to be enjoyed by all.
Espolón Blanco is distilled in the heart of Jalisco and is one of the best-valued tequilas you’ll find on the market. As the story goes, Master Distiller Cirilo Oropeza blasts rock music to inspire the tequila every time he’s distilling a new batch. Whether or not that is the reason for this spirit’s success, the result is undeniably delicious. On the nose, Espolón offers a delicate mix of agave, fruity, and floral notes that transition into a similarly bright, peppery, spicy, and fruity palate. Everything comes to a head with its crisp, spicy finish.
Painted Donkey Reposado
If there were ever a Reposado for the people, it would be Painted Donkey. This Reposado is one of the most accessible and versatile offerings you can find in its category. For the purist readers, Painted Donkey is resplendent on its own, and for those who prefer to mix things up, it is also an amazing base for a margarita. Its nose welcomes the drinker with a sweet, caramelly aroma with hints of oak and agave. On the palate, it delivers a mix of oak, vanilla, caramel, and a hint of fruity flavors. This symphony of deliciousness culminates with a satisfying, peppery finish.
Another deliciously versatile offering, Milagro Añejo is something like the Swiss Army Knife of Añejo tequila. This delicious elixir is easily recognized thanks to its stylish, gradient-patterned bottle, while its 12 to 14-month gestation in American oak casks makes its smooth flavor adored throughout the world. For an Añejo, Milagro has a pleasantly surprising amount of agave in its flavor, which is preceded by aromas of caramel, coconut, and toasted oak. Its balanced palate mixes subtle yet noticeable hints of agave with stronger notes of chocolate, tropical fruit, and tobacco. These wonderful flavors build to a sweet, spicy finish that will leave you wanting more.
Originally co-founded by George Clooney, Casamigos proves that not all celebrity tequila ventures are a gimmick. In fact, the brand is a shining example of excellent craftsmanship in the tequila space. While all of its tequilas are fantastic, Casamigos’ Reposado tequila is particularly exquisite. Its Reposado is aged for seven months in American white oak casks, picking up the essence and flavor of the premium whiskey the casks formerly held. What results is an amazing tequila with an aromatic mix of spices, nutty aromas, and vanilla. From there, the palate is fantastic, featuring notes of caramel, cocoa, and hints of spices and tobacco. It all crescendos to a sweet, peppery, and satisfying finish.
Don Julio Blanco
A perennial favorite amongst Blanco tequila lovers, Don Julio Blanco is seen by many as the standard-bearer of Blanco tequilas, as it can easily be enjoyed on its own. Distilled in the iconic La Primavera Distillery in Jalisco, Don Julio Blanco serves as the delectable template for all of the Don’s tequila offerings. Its nose is crisp and citrusy, with notes of agave, lemon, lime, and grapefruit. These aromas translate to a similarly bright palate, featuring an agave-forward taste that is balanced with spice and citrus. Expect a long-lasting, peppery finish to cap off the experience.
Fortaleza Blanco Tequila
One would be hard-pressed to find a more well-respected tequila distillery than the Destileria La Fortaleza. With its roots spanning back to the 1800s, Fortaleza shut its doors in 1968 before reopening with a vengeance in 1999. Since then, it has been making some of the most premium-quality tequila in the world. Its Blanco tequila is a top-notch offering, with an agave-forward nose that features earthy notes of pepper, citrus, and vegetal hints. The palate is mouthwatering and mirrors the nose with a similarly agave-forward taste that blends with earthy spices like cinnamon and pepper. Expect a satisfyingly hot finish to this standout Blanco.
Mijenta Tequila Blanco
Mijenta is another standout tequila brand that has been making waves in the space with its premium-tasting spirits. While its Joven tequila is incredibly well-known, it could be argued that Mijenta’s Blanco tequila is the best of its stout lineup. Its shimmering body gives off aromas of cooked agave, vanilla, caramel, and floral hints of cantaloupe and peaches. On the palate, Mijenta Blanco is agave-forward while also giving way to notes of vanilla, fresh fruit, and cinnamon. These wonderful flavors work in harmony to a bright and spicy finish.
Without question, Patron’s ever-popular offering is one of the most iconic tequilas on this list for its design and flavor profile. Dubbed the first “ultra-premium” Blanco tequila, Patron Silver was the first of its kind to sell over one million cases thanks to its innovative distillation technique. It epitomizes all the positive hallmarks of a Blanco tequila, with a vibrant nose of agave, spice, vanilla, and citrus fruits. Expect a palate that melds a sweet mixture of citrusy notes with herbal and floral notes that ends with a brilliantly peppery finish.
1800 Cristalino Añejo
Probably the most innovative tequila on our list, 1800 Cristalino Añejo is a truly unique take on the Añejo style. After being aged in American and French oak for 16 months and then being finished in Port casks for 6 months, the tequila goes through a unique filtration process that strips it of its color. The result is a crystal-clear Añejo with a nose that offers notes of cooked agave, oak, vanilla, and black pepper. Its smooth palate is similarly enticing, featuring a similar blend of cooked agave, vanilla, oak, and black pepper with noticeable hints of caramel added to the mix. Expect a balanced finish of pepper and agave.
Don Julio Añejo 1942
One of the most popular Añejos on the market, Don Julio Añejo 1942 is achingly delicious. The pride of the aforementioned La Primavera Distillery, it takes eight pounds of agave and a two-and-a-half-year aging process to make one bottle of this Mexican ambrosia. On the nose, expect a synergistic mix of caramel, chocolate, and vanilla, complemented by hints of oak and roasted agave. The complex palate leverages the richness of the vanilla while also giving way to notes of oak, caramel, butterscotch, and pepper. Drinkers will be left with a lingering, sweet finish of vanilla.
Clase Azul Reposado
As far as tequila goes, Clase Azul is as iconic as they come. From the taste to its decanter, everything about this tequila is magnificent, which is why it’s consistently a crowd favorite. Its golden body has a heavenly aromatic mix of vanilla, honey, oak, and orange, which translates to a delectable palate that features more vanilla, hazelnut, ground spices, and sweet agave. Clase Azul’s finish is as sweet, smooth, and satiating as its beginning. You’ll never go wrong with this Reposado.
Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia
Out of Jose Cuervo’s legendary line of tequilas, its Reserva de la Familia Extra Añejo reigns supreme. Not only is it heralded as the world’s first Extra Añejo tequila, but it also received a near-perfect score from the Beverage Tasting Institute. The body is a gorgeous dark amber with sweet aromas of oak, apples, cinnamon, and a hint of olives. Its palate is a wonderful blend of oak, vanilla, cinnamon, and toasted almonds, which builds to a long-lasting, silky smooth finish.
Casa Dragones Joven
Not only is it the best Joven tequila in the world, but also it’s one of the best overall tequilas, period. While true Joven tequilas are rare to find alone, Casa Dragones Joven redefines what a Joven should be. It’s a perfect blend of Blanco and Añejo that is unfathomably delicious. Its nose has subtle notes of citrus and sweet agave with floral undertones. On the palate, Casa Dragones sports the spice of an elite Blanco with the smoothness and softness of an Añejo due to its spiced vanilla undertones. For its finish, imbibers can look forward to warm notes of hazelnuts.
Tears of Llorona Extra Ańejo
For its taste and its beauty, Tears of Llorona Extra Ańejo is widely recognized as one of the best Extra Añejos on the market. Over the course of its five-year aging process, it matures in former scotch, sherry, and cognac casks to develop a one-of-a-kind flavor profile. Its nose has a subtle blend of oak, cooked agave, vanilla, and caramel, while its palate has a similar alchemy of flavors and surprising undertones of smoke for a unique mouthfeel. The finish is as complex as the palate, sporting notes of earthy spices along with raisins, oak, and caramel.
Herradura Seleccion Suprema Extra Añejo Tequila
When “Supreme” is in your name, you better have the goods, and boy does Herradura Seleccion Suprema Extra Añejo Tequila prove it is more than worthy of such a moniker. It is matured in American white oak casks for more than four years, a process that allows the spirit to develop a deep, rich body. For its nose, this tequila boasts a citrus-forward mix of caramelized vanilla, rose petals, and cinnamon. The citrus theme extends to the complex palate, which is fruit-forward and offers notes of the aforementioned zesty fruit alongside apples, vanilla, and caramel. For the finish, the citrus subsides to give way to a smooth mouthfeel with notes of spices that will leave you wanting more.
The Complete Guide to Tequila Styles
Now that you’ve seen some of the best tequilas the market has to offer, check out our complete guide to tequila styles to learn the nuts and bolts of how the spirit of Mexico is made.